omething very strange
is going on. It's been happening in the open, on a large scale, year after year.
It occurs all over the world, but is most frequent and elaborate in southern
England. In addition to the phenomenon being inexplicable, the human reaction to
it is equally strange.
Forget for a moment whatever you've seen in
movies, print or on TV exploiting controversy. The facts present a far more
interesting picture. Much is readily verifiable. Add to this all the claims,
speculation and beliefs and the whole thing becomes even more fascinating. What
follows is an overview. If you wish to learn more there are web links to a
wealth of further information at the end.
Despite their conspicuous public nature,
frequency, inexplicability and profound implications, most people simply ignore
crop circles. Of those who are willing to go so far as to give them a bit of
consideration the majority dismiss them as hoaxes. Among the skeptics are a
curious minority who are adamant in their dismissal and become angry and even
aggressive if anyone doesn't agree. It's as if denial is really important, and
serious consideration of the circles is not only mistaken but dangerous or
willfully evil. Only a small minority consider the phenomena with an open mind
and think that crop circles are worthy of serious attention.
The patterns range from simple circles of
flattened crop a few meters across, to elaborate geometric designs hundreds of
meters wide comprised of several hundred elements of lines and curves. Many of
the designs incorporate very sophisticated geometry. Frequently they involve
multiple levels of form and relationship. This may include superimposed figures,
the combining of 2D and 3D elements, hidden elements defined by visible ones,
perceptual ambiguity and complex mathematical positioning and proportioning.
Without getting sidetracked into a more detailed discussion here suffice it to
say the level of geometric complexity is often far greater than is apparent
without careful measurement and analysis. Whoever is responsible is capable of
and interested in more than just casual visual appearance. For the
mathematically inclined or those interested in more detailed information on crop
circle geometry an excellent little book, Crop Circles, The Hidden Form by Nick Kollerstrom is recommended.
sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_0_1/202-9165483-3299044 ) .
For a detailed online presen-tation of crop circle geometry see:
http://home.wanadoo.nl/zefdamen/en/Crop circles_en.htm )
Effects on downed crops in the formations cannot
be accounted for either by human or any known natural causation. Stalks that are
beautifully laid side by side can have contrasting patterns that go five layers
deep. Small plaited and woven tents and nests are features that frequently
appear. Unbroken stems of downed crop appear to have been heated and bent rather
than simply flattened by a physical force that would leave most stems broken. To
further the mystery, the stem nodes often are elongated or exploded. Strange
growth and germination effects in seeds from downed crop are also well
documented. Unexplainable magnetic and other soil anomalies have repeatedly been
found. This evidence is compelling. It is based on well conducted research,
carried out by qualified and reputable scientists and published in respected
peer reviewed journals. It clearly indicates unexplained forces are involved in
forming crop circles.
Another notable aspect of the circles is the
diversity of design. Although recognizable themes are often followed, each
figure is unique. Taken as a whole the formations constitute an impressive body
of very sophisticated art.
Impressive Examples from England
In 1996, a 915' long spiral design made of 151
circles appeared opposite Stonehenge (see sidebar). It arrived within a 45 minute period in
the afternoon (most circles form overnight). Several witnesses reported it was
not there before 5.30 p.m., but just after 6.00 p.m. the huge figure was spotted
and subsequently seen by thousands of persons. A "Julia set," It was the first
of many fractal patterns.
Three weeks after that, the so called Triple
Julia appeared (see sidebar). It was a design made up of 194 circles looking like three of the
single Julia fractals, radiating out from a center. It actually was three spiral
arms constructed so that the first three circles from the center, and all
succeeding trios, when viewed from above, formed equilateral triangles. Another
thing about this extraordinary formation was that its circles alternated between
clockwise and counter-clockwise swirls. Also, each had a unique standing-crop
August, 2001, saw the largest formation ever (see
title image). It
was at Milk Hill on the Wansdyke, the highest point in Wiltshire. Despite
arriving during a pouring rainstorm no muddy footprints were detected in it. It
was the size of two football fields and was constructed of 409 circles in an
eight armed "Catherine Wheel," named for the fourth century's Catherine of
Later in August, 2001, two images appeared a week
apart in a field next to the radio telescope at Chilbolton, Hampshire (see
sidebar). One was a
dot matrix humanoid face; the other was remarkably similar to the binary coded
image sent from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rice to commemorate a
major power increase in the world's most powerful such instrument. The crop
circle appears to give info about "them" that corresponds to the info about "us"
contained in the Arecibo message.
Then, in August, 2002, at Crabwood, near
Chilbolton, Hampshire, an alien face holding a data disk appeared (see
sidebar). The disk contained a dot/dash spiral of flattened crop encoded in
ASCII, which read,
"Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN
PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time. BELIEvE. There is GOOD out there. We OPpose
DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING. Acknowledge." (See sidebar)
Crop circles have been reported in 63 countries,
on every continent but Antarctica. In terms of frequency and sophistication of
design, southern England, which gets between 75 and 300 formations a year, is by
far the leading area.
Anecdotal accounts of circles go back to the last
half of the 1800s, from stories people remember grandparents telling them when
they were young about playing in circles as children. A seventeenth century
woodcut depicts the Devil creating what looks very much like a crop circle. The
current wave of interest began in the early 1980s in England and intensified
from 1989 onward. It has been suggested that the complexity and frequency of the
circles have increased as heightened interest has been shown them. It is
difficult however, to clearly distinguish cause from effect in this regard.
In England, circles appear as early as April and
as late as September, during the whole growing cycle of crops. Often they are
not even detected until the farmer harvests a field.
There are less than a dozen credible dozen
eye-witness accounts of circles forming. All are similar in describing an
invisible force appearing out of nowhere and flattening the crops in seconds.
Strange lights and high-pitched sounds typically have been experienced as well.
The media, most of the public, and devout
skeptics prefer the hoax hypothesis. With it, the whole phenomenon can
comfortably be dismissed.
In 1990, a watch was mounted on a likely field by
the BBC, Japanese television and the British army. The crop circle experts very
publicly declared a "hit" when a circle soon appeared, only to discover they had
been deliberately fooled -- perhaps by the army, which was off that day. The
specter of hoax was first raised, and a certain amount of indifference by the
public started to creep in.
In 1991, two regular pub customers in rural
England "confessed" to making the circles. The media jumped on the story as an
exposÚ, and Doug and Dave enjoyed public attention despite the illogic of their
stories and the ineptitude of their crude demonstrations. After this, hoax
became the accepted explanation and other hoaxers have come forth to claim "me
The inadequacies of the hoax explanation are
manifold. Hundreds of circles were reported before Doug and Dave claimed
responsibility. Neither they nor any other claimants have ever demonstrated
anything that comes close to the elegance, complexity, size, geometry and
precision of those of unknown origin. Their attempts also produce none of the
plant changes and other anomalies found in these. Even to lay out the pattern of
a complex formation would take a team of surveyors several days. To believe the
hoax explanation one must be willing to think that all over the world, night
after night, year after year, teams of highly skilled people are creeping around
in the dark constructing huge complex designs, never making a noticeable
mistake, and, even though many sites are visible from heavily traveled roads,
never being caught, disrupted or observed. Interestingly, even a strict
quarantine on travel in areas affected by the recent foot and mouth disease
epidemic seemed to have had little effect on circle formation. All this would
seem certain to try anyone's capacity to believe hoaxers alone account for the
phenomena. Amazingly it hasn't. To the contrary, the hoax explanation has been
widely accepted without so much as even questioning it
Even more remarkably, it is in fact the
professional skeptics who seem most ready, even determined, to swallow this
whole mess of human deception, duplicity and delusion and angrily defend it
against any expression of doubt. It would appear that most avowed skeptics
aren't truly skeptics at all but only another variety of believer to whom
science is not a method but a faith, in which no possibility of reality can be
attributed anything not already known to science at this time. The fact that new
scientific discoveries are made every year apparently has no relevance to the
believers in the completeness of their faith.
Despite an abundance of ongoing physical evidence
with which to work the mainstream scientific establishment has almost totally
ignored the crop circle phenomena. Most of the research that has been conducted
has been by individuals on their own without access to high level facilities
plus a few maverick academics whose work is not accorded much credibility by the
mainstream. Science is as much about credibility, verification and acceptance as
it is about discovery. Although the independent investigations strongly indicate
unusual events it is difficult to assess their validity. Some of the independent
research appears well founded. Much does not meet normal scientific standards of
techniques, controls and verification. In science unusual findings not coming
from recognized sources by way of established journals tend to be simply ignored
The BLT Research Team is one important exception.
They have mainstream credentials, facilities and backing and have been
investigating the circles for some years. They have found unusual and difficult
to explain alterations in the cell structure of the crop plants, changes to the
composition of the soil in circles, and growth abnormalities in the plants
involved. This work been conducted using up to date methods and techniques,
published in peer reviewed scientific journals and are of a nature so as to be
readily accessible to verification. Some of their findings have also been
independently confirmed by the Dutch researcher Eltjo Hasselhoff.
BLT offer a hypothesis of some involvement of
plasma vortices in the actual creation of the formations, and under laboratory
conditions small plasma vortices sometimes do execute simple geometric figures,
but their involvement in circle formation is purely conjecture and actual
measurement or detection of such vortices have not been made. Conditions of
temperature, pressure and energy gradients required for plasma vortex formation
in the laboratory are far removed from those occurring naturally in the
atmosphere. The capacity to execute a few simple geometric forms also does not
explain a vast array of unique, elegant and highly complex designs so even if
plasma vortices do exist and are involved what is directing them poses a still
One report (http://www.zetatalk.com/theword/tword02e.htm}
on short lived radio-nucleotides from a crop circle indicates that something
even more puzzling and powerful may well be involved.
In addition to the above examples a number of
individual researchers have looked into and speculated on crop circles but very
little else in the way of firm evidence has been published in the primary
scientific literature. Basic research on circles using well accepted
methodologies with results reported in mainstream journals is especially needed
in that it presents a form and presence that can not be so easily dismissed.
Such would a wedge in the door to broader consideration both by science and the
Recently (October 2002) NASA at Space Center
Houston featured a public crop circle exhibition. This provoked strong criticism
from both scientists and the media. The objections basically amounted to a hoax
being the only acceptable explanation and open minded presentation by NASA lent
credibility to consideration of other possibilities. It appears that to many the
hoax explanation has achieved the status of political correctness whereby even
considering anything else is deemed highly improper.
Even more recently (January 2003) a BBC Science
online report took a decidedly open minded look at crop circles. While not
endorsing any conclusions it presented clear evidence and argument that they
cannot be either readily explained or dismissed as hoaxes.
It appears we are edging closer to the point
where mainstream science begins to acknowledge something inexplicable and
non-trivial is taking place. Like the emperor with no clothes that recognition
would open the way to a more general public acknowledgment of circles as an
unexplained phenomena of some significance, not simply a prank. The web links at
the end of this essay provide access to more detail on research findings and
Among those inclined to a conspiracy view of the
world, suspicion of secret military activity finds some support. While there is
evidence of military interest in the phenomena (at least in England) there is no
evidence or reasonable supposition as to why, how or if they might be involved
in creating it. This explanation raises much the same doubt as does the hoax
hypothesis in respect to night after night, year after year activity, no
mistakes, very sophisticated designs, and no one being caught. The idea of
testing some kind of top secret technology by spending decades using it to
inscribe elegant art in farmers' fields hardly demands serious consideration.
Large-scale, long term secret conspiracies are an oxymoron. People talk. What
leaks may be incomplete and distorted but rumors invariably start to circulate.
In the case of circles the rumors are only raw suspicion and they lack any of
the details or specifics that inevitably accompany reality.
Disinformation is another matter. The multiple
branches of intelligence sponsored by modern governments embody a world of
secrecy, suspicion and deceit. They enjoy considerable freedom of action with
loose accountability and oversight. Within limits they are free to do what they
please. It is quite possible, even probable, something that is ongoing, public,
large scale, inexplicable and outside the control or even understanding of
government would be seen as a potential threat. Widespread public awareness of
such things might well be perceived as undesirable. With no benefit apparent and
some detriment possible from public awareness, a decision to play crop circles
down, at least until more is known, could be seen as sensible. It is not
inconceivable that encouraging or even instigating some doubt and discredit
might have been decided upon.
Aliens and Mystico-religious
Beyond what might be called the "normal"
explanations are a miscellany of ideas and beliefs that are outside consensus
reality. These include involvement of spirits or extra-terrestrial or
other-dimensional beings. The appearance of strange lights, UFO sightings,
equipment failures, electromagnetic disturbances, remarkable coincidences and
various psycho-physiological effects are offered as anecdotal support. There is
no evidence, theory, or argument to evaluate. Here, we are outside the realm of
science and rational understanding.
Hollywood has made its contribution in this area
with the big budget film, "Signs," released in August, 2002. It depicts the
circles as involved with sinister activity by extra-terrestrials that produces
justifiable, even admirable, violent human response. The benign reality of the
real phenomena is ignored as is the likely real world outcome of attacking
aliens who are vastly more technologically advanced than we are.
In terms of human-made explanations, a hoax or
prank is one thing. Decades of effort for no conceivable return is quite
another. The secret military activity hypothesis fails to suggest any answer.
They have large areas reserved for their exclusive use. On farms they would run
a good risk of being observed and of damage claims and conflicts with civilian
In terms of aliens from elsewhere in the
universe, scoffers ask, "Why would they come trillions of miles to make graffiti
in farmers' fields?" This rhetorical question has been used by skeptics to point
out the ridiculousness of the idea of non-human involvement in circle creation.
In fact, it much more clearly demonstrates the naivety of the questioner. There
is clear evidence for some kind of sentient involvement. There is no credible
explanation for human origination. There is no need to presume that aliens must
come from far away, that they would come only for this purpose, or that to
produce the circles they must in fact be here. They could have been here all
along, live just next door in another dimension, or be doing it remotely.
Although the origin, methodology and purpose of
crop circles remain unknown, the evidence is sufficient to make some reasonable
assumptions: They are intended for us. An unknown force is involved in their
formation. Their design reflects a high level of intelligence. They are not so
much intended to instruct with specific information as to provoke thought and
awareness. Their intent is benign and care is being taken not to harm anyone.
Their frequency and their content have a relationship to the response they
receive. There is no reason to suspect human origination other than the lack of
any other explanation. There is no reason to not suspect involvement of
non-human intelligence other than a refusal to consider such a possibility.
We are confronted with the true unknown and
anything is conceivable. However, it is still possible to proceed a bit further
without abandoning either reason or what we understand to be reality. What
follows isn't a belief or even a theory but rather some observations and
possibilities that may be worth further consideration.
Evidence is beginning to accumulate that planets are a
common, perhaps ubiquitous accompaniment of star formation. In every galaxy
there are likely millions, perhaps billions of planets of a size and orbit
suitable for life. The elements and compounds necessary for life are widespread.
The probability of life being restricted to Earth alone is remote. The
probability of it being widespread seems overwhelming. Natural selection assures
that over time life will evolve forms with better and better mobility, sensory
and nervous systems, cooperation, communication and the ability to manipulate
It is not unthinkable to imagine an advanced
society that has abandoned hardware in favor of an advanced capacity for more
direct manipulation of the world. Via quantum entanglement it might even be able
to effect real time awareness and a form of presence wherever it chooses. A
technology vastly more advanced than our own might well be unrecognizable to us.
Assuming it should have to resemble a sophisticated version of our own is at
best naive and most probably simply wrong.
There are many stars much older than our sun.
Life forms far more evolved than we are must be common. So where are they? Why
isn't SETI picking up a cacophony of signals from advanced civilizations? Why
aren't extraterrestrial spacecraft zooming around everywhere? Why haven't they
announced themselves or taken over and rounded us up for some nefarious purpose?
The answer could be they don't exist but it seems more likely it's because they
don't behave like we do and possess capabilities we can't recognize or even
More and more powerful technology also provides
more and more power to destroy. Security becomes ever more difficult and
breaches more devastating. A truly advanced civilization cannot survive without
an accompanying advance in its psycho-social structure. This would seemingly
have to involve high levels of cooperation, mutual concern and tolerance,
abandonment of violence as a tool of government, and the abolition of
destructive technology, i.e. weaponry.
Advanced technology would likely afford long life
and low mortality. A society which kept on growing would soon run out of space
and resources. Any advanced civilization will have had to come to grips with the
finiteness of its world and its limits. If the current rate of global population
growth of the past 50 years were to continue we would need to send 15,000 people
an hour to another planet just to keep growth in check. In another 50 years we
would have to start occupying two more planets and in a thousand years we would
have filled up a million Earths. Only 500 years after that we would have overrun
Fortunately global growth appears to be rapidly
decreasing. Most developed countries already have a rate of increase that is
below replacement level and the latest UN population report shows dramatic falls
in birth rates in various developing nations. Once one comes to terms with the
necessity of zero population growth it's a whole different game. Then the only
real question becomes what is optimal size? Without going into detail here,
suffice it to say that taking into account a broad range of factors including
resource availability, environmental impacts, productivity, sustainability, and
psycho-social effects it appears the optimum is somewhat less than the current
It does not seem improbable that advanced
consciousnesses would have an awareness of self broader than our current one and
would recognize a commonality in all consciousness. It is also not unreasonable
that they might take care to avoid detrimental effects on more primitive
We likely would have nothing they want. And they
likely would have access to anything they wished to know about us without our
being aware of it. Announcing themselves without our being prepared might do
more harm than any benefit to us. Providing us with knowledge of far more
advanced technology would surely be disastrous -- at this stage of our
development it would be like giving high explosives to teen age boys.
Seen from the perspective of a culture further
advanced than our own, we would be nearing a critical stage of our evolution,
when we either will start thinking sensibly about what we are doing or possibly
even destroy ourselves. Crop circles could be a gently nudge to wake us up and
to provoke fresh new thinking.
Serious investigation of the crop circles phenomenon is
warranted. It promises to be important and could well be profound. Any
human-made explanation would have to be fascinating; a conclusion that non-human
intelligence is involved would truly be profound.
Are we ready for such a possibility?
We face great and growing dangers of our own
making. If advice is being offered, we would be foolish indeed to ignore it. If
we are on our own and it's totally up to us to figure out for ourselves what to
do, we are going to have to be a lot more determined to pursue reason, accept
truth and be open to possibilities than we ever have been before. Either way,
the same mindset is required, and attention to the circles is a good place to
The author is indebted to the following persons
for valuable information and suggestions on crop circles: Suzanne Taylor of
mightycompanions.org, Lucy Pringle (photographer and independent researcher),
Marshall Dudley ( physicist ) and Jim Lyons (aeronautical engineer).
The Remarkable Geometry
of Crop Circles
The design of crop circles
encompasses the full spectrum of figures and ratios of geometry. These are
not just freehand doodles. They incorporate such things as the golden
mean, harmonic internals, the union of square and circle, fractals, prime
numbers, and other sophisticated relationships.
The ratio of increasing sizes of circles (above)
is such that the the logarithm of the logarithm of sizes is a straight line. The
12 circles stand on a visible circle and touch an outer invisible circle. Then
the outer design is reduced and converted into a mirror image that nicely
balances the inside. Designing this was a decidedly non-trivial maths
The more you look the more you
after Kollerstrom 2002
diagram by Lucy Pringle
This triple spiral expands with the square
of the golden ratio Φ per 90░ of rotation. Φ is unique
in that its square is one more than itself and its reciprocal is one less. Its
higher powers can likewise be expressed in terms of itself. The Fibonacci
series (1, 1, 2, 3, 5 , 8 etc.) in which each succeeding number is the sum of
the previous two is expressed in many natural phenomena. In it the ratio
of each succeeding pair converges upon Φ. It is especially prominent in
For more on this one see:
Looks fairly simple doesn't it? Like many
crop circles the geometry is actually very complex. Constructing this one
involves laying out an array of 60 circles and 3 hexagrams, then keeping track
of what parts of the confusing mass of overlapping circles actually
constitutes the design. For a full step by step explanation see:
Reconstruction of the West Overton 23-06-2002 formation
This 915 foot long figure appeared on a Sunday
afternoon near Stonehenge within plain view of a busy highway. At
5:30 p.m. witnesses report it was not there then shortly after 6:00 p.m. it was
Close up of a circle element.
A Strange Message
In August, 2002, at Crabwood, near
Chilbolton, Hampshire this appeared.
Detail of data disk portion of above.
Encoded in ASCII, it read: "Beware the bearers of
FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time. BELIEvE. There is
GOOD out there. We OPpose DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING. Acknowledge."
Crop circles have been reported worldwide but they
are most common and more sophisticated in southern England than anywhere else.
The photos in this feature are all from Wiltshire and Hampshire.