A video of a ladder moving on its own, purportedly from Jharkhand, is viral on social media. X (formerly Twitter) users shared it with the caption, “झारखंड हाई कोर्ट में सीढ़ी अपने आप चल रहा है , किसी बड़ी अनहोनी के अंदेशा से सहमे लोग” (Translation: The ladder is moving automatically in the Jharkhand High Court, people are afraid of some big untoward incident). (Archive)

Below are other instances of users sharing the same video with the same caption. (Archives- 1, 2, 3)

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The video is also viral on Facebook. However, the majority of users have not provided an explanation for such a phenomenon.

Alt News also received several requests on its WhatsApp helpline for verifying the video.

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Fact Check

Upon a keyword search, we found a Jharkhand News9 report wherein lawyer Dheeraj Kumar from the Jharkhand high court refuted the viral claims. “These rumours spread very fast- an example of this is the viral video purportedly from Jharkhand High Court. This video was recently in the news with claims of being shot in a hospital in Uttarakhand. Now it is being falsely linked to Jharkhand High Court. This is a lie. Strict measures should be taken against such false rumours”.

We found that the video was also shared with the claim that it was from Base Hospital in Almora, Uttarakhand. Medical superintendent Dr Amit Kumar Singh, in-charge of Base Hospital, said, in a statement to News 18 Hindi, that the video of the ladder was not from Base Hospital in Almora. He added that the signboards installed in the hospital were blue in colour and the one seen in the viral video was red.

Coming to the science behind the viral chain of events, this is a quite common sight and has been caught on camera several times before. According to a Daily Mail report published in November 2018, a similar incident from Kerala was caught on camera. The ladder, bizarrely seen walking, was being worshipped by locals. The report clarified the theory behind such an unusual sight. “The ladder is on a floor that has an incline. Someone nudges the ladder so that it starts rocking. The force of gravity working through the incline is just enough so the ladder keeps rocking but not so much that the rocking gets larger and the ladder falls over. The structure and ‘spring’ of the ladder balanced with the forces pulling it downwards”, reads the report. This phenomenon is called Passive Dynamic Walking.

A similar experiment was performed at the Cornell University Human Power Lab using multiple passive dynamic walkers. Each walker is seen walking down a slight incline, powered by gravity. This is the exact science behind the viral video of the walking ladder.

We also spoke to a teacher of physics. Aditi Sen, who teaches at Kolkata’s Indus Valley World School, said, “This is a case of gravitational force acting on an inclined plane. It is often used in the field of robotics. There is nothing paranormal about it.”

Hence, a viral video of a ladder moving by itself is viral as an example of paranormal activity. However, similar incidents have been caught on camera several times before and the scientific phenomenon behind this chain of events is called Passive Dynamic Walking. A lawyer from Jharkhand High Court denied the claims of such an occurrence ever happening there. Alt News, however, could not independently verify the source of the video.

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.