Crop circles

Posted on May 22, 2008. Filed under: History, Science and Technology |


Crop circles
is a term used to describe patterns created by the flattening of crops such as wheat, barley, rapeseed , rye, corn, linseed and soy.

Overview

The term was first used by researcher Colin Andrews to describe simple circles he was researching. Since 1990 the circles evolved into complex geometries, but by then the term had stuck. Examples can be found worldwide. Various hypotheses have been offered to explain their formation, ranging from the naturalistic to the paranormal. Naturalistic explanations include man-made hoaxes or geological anomalies, while paranormal explanations include formation by UFOs. Many circles are known to be man-made, such as those created by Doug Bower, Dave Chorley, and John Lundberg, and a 2000 study into circle hoaxing concluded that 80 percent of UK circles were definitely man-made.

In 1966 one of the most famous accounts of UFO traces happened in the small town of Tully, Queensland, Australia . A sugar cane farmer said he witnessed a saucer-shaped craft rise 30 or 40 feet up from a swamp and then fly away, and when he went to investigate the location where he thought the saucer had landed, he found the reeds intricately weaved in a clockwise fashion on top of the water. The woven reeds could hold the weight of 10 men.

There are also many other anecdotal accounts of crop circles in Ufology literature that predate the modern crop circle phenomena, though some cases involve crops which were cut or burnt, rather than flattened.

Crop Circle Designs

Early examples of crop circles were usually simple circular patterns of various sizes. After some years, more complex geometric patterns emerged. In general, the early formations (1970–2000) seemed to be based on the principles of sacred geometry. Later formations, those occurring after 2000, appear to be based on other principles, natural sciences and mathematics designs, including fractals. Many crop circles now have fine intricate detail, regular symmetry and careful composition. Elements of three-dimensionality became more frequent, culminating in spectacular images of cube-shaped structures.[more…]

Creators of Crop Circles

In 1991, two men from Southampton, England announced that they had conceived the idea as a prank at a pub near Winchester, Hampshire during an evening in 1976. Inspired by the 1966 Tully Saucer Nests, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley made their crop circles using planks, rope, hats and wire as their only tools: using a four-foot-long plank attached to a rope, they easily created circles eight feet in diameter. The two men were able to make a 40-foot (12 m) circle in 15 minutes.

The pair became frustrated when their work did not receive significant publicity, so in 1981 they created a circle in Matterley Bowl, a natural amphitheatre just outside Winchester, Hampshire – an area surrounded by roads from which a clear view of the field is available to drivers passing by. Their designs were at first simple circles. When newspapers claimed that the circles could easily be explained by natural phenomena, Bower and Chorley made more complex patterns. A simple wire with a loop, hanging down from a cap – the loop positioned over one eye – could be used to focus on a landmark to aid in the creation of straight lines. Later designs of crop circles became increasingly complicated.

Bower’s wife had become suspicious of him, noticing high levels of mileage in their car. Eventually, fearing that his wife suspected him of adultery, Bower confessed to her and subsequently he and Chorley informed a British national newspaper. Chorley died in 1996, and Doug Bower has made crop circles as recently as 2004. Bower has said that, had it not been for his wife’s suspicions, he would have taken the secret to his deathbed, never revealing that it was a hoax.[more…]

Paranormal Beliefs

Since appearing in the media in the 1970s, crop circles have become the subject of various paranormal and fringe beliefs, ranging from the hypothesis that they are created by freak meteorological phenomena to the belief that they represent messages from extra terrestrials.

According to material published by the BLT institute, anomalies found at some circle sites in England and the US are consistent with them having been created when localized columns of ionized air (dubbed plasma vortices/vortexes) form over standing crops. Other hypotheses attribute them to atmospheric phenomena such as freak tornadoes or ball lightning.

The location of many crop circles near ancient sites such as Stonehenge, barrows, and chalk horses has led to many New Age belief-systems incorporating crop circles; Including the beliefs that they are formed in relation to ley lines and that they give off energy that can be detected through dowsing. New Age followers sometimes gather at crop circle sites in order to meditate, or because they believe that they can use the circle in order to contact spirits.

UFOs and other lights in the sky have been reported in connection with many crop circle sites, leading to them becoming associated with UFOs and aliens. Some people claim to have seen images of UFOs forming crop circles or overflying them, though photographs have been dismissed by skeptics as being indistinct or clear hoaxes.

Scientific Analysis

In 2002, Discovery Channel commissioned 5 aeronautics and astronautics students from MIT to create crop circles of their own. Discovery’s production team consulted with crop circle researcher Nancy Talbott, who provided them with three attributes which she believed set “real” crop circles apart from known man-made circles such as those created by Doug and Dave. These criteria were:

  1. Elongated apical plant stem nodes
  2. Expulsion cavities in the plant stems
  3. The presence of 10-50 micrometer diameter magnetized iron spheres in the soils, distributed linearly

Over the course of a single night the team were able to create a stereotypical “man-made” circle which they then attempted to enhance using the three criteria. The team used lengths of rope to plot their design and trampled the wheat down in a spiral pattern using lengths of wooden board attached to loops of rope. To meet criterion 2, they constructed a portable microwave emitter; using it to superheat the moisture inside the corn stalks until it burst out as steam. To meet criterion 3 they built a device – dubbed the “Flammschmeisser” – which sprayed iron particles through a heated ring. However, the device proved to be too time consuming to use and they were forced to finish the task using a pyrotechnic charge to distribute the iron around the circle. The circle was later analyzed by graduate students from MIT, who declared it to be “on a par with any of the documented cases”. Their conclusion was later questioned by Talbott, noting that the team had only been able to recreate 2 of the 3 criteria. Talbott also expressed concerns that the iron particles were not distributed laterally. Furthermore, she felt that the team’s use of night vision headsets and other technologically advanced items would be out of reach for the average hoaxer.

The creation of the circle was recorded and used in the Discovery channel documentary “Crop Circles: Mysteries in the Fields”.

Slideshow:

Click on the slideshow and open in a new window to see original size HQ pics.

source:wikipedia

Crop circle research
Google book on Crop Circle Complexity
Crop Circle Makers
Google earth link— view the crop circles around the world

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