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Crop circles are patterns in serial crop fields some say created by UFOs.

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Crop circles are geometrical formations of flattened crops found in many countries but mainly in England. Crop circles have been found in wheat, barley, canola, corn and even trees.

crop circles.
A crop circle pattern.

Crop circles phenomenon itself only entered the public imagination in its current form after the notable appearances in England in the late 1970s. Various scientific and pseudo-scientific explanations were put forward to explain Crop circles phenomenon, which soon spread around the world. In 1991, two men, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, revealed that they had been making crop circles in England since 1978 using planks, rope, hats and wire as their only tools. Circlemakers.org a United Kingdom-based arts collective founded by John Lundberg have been creating crop circles since the early 1990s. Although the commonly accepted view today is that crop circles are a man-made phenomenon, paranormal explanations, often including UFOs, are still popular, and the topic remains one of strongly opposing viewpoints.

The study of the crop circle phenomena is called cerealogy. Cerealogists commonly refer to these designs as agriglyphs.

History of crop circles.

crop circle .
Supposedly, the earliest recorded crop circle is depicted in a 17th century woodcut called the Mowing-Devil.

The phenomenon of crop circles became generally known in the 1970s, after the start of the hoaxes perpetrated by Bower and Chorley. Subsequently crop circle enthusiasts have tried finding examples of the phenomenon before this. Supposedly, the earliest recorded crop circle is depicted in a 17th century woodcut called the Mowing-Devil. The image depicts a strange creature creating a circular design in a field of corn. The legend suggests that the farmer, disgusted at the wage his mower was demanding for his work, insisted that he would rather have the devil himself perform the task. Proponents of the belief that crop circles are either naturally caused, or are formed by as yet unknown entities, often support their viewpoint with this old tale. It is worth noting, however, that this is little more than a tale-the circular formation supposedly caused by the creature may be coincidental, or may have been caused by any number of natural or human processes.

An apparently more convincing historical report of crop circles was published in the journal nature in 1880 (reproduced in 2000). An amateur scientist named Brandon Meland appears to describe a field containing a number of crop circles, along with his suggestion that they might have been caused by "some cyclonic wind action".

Although the pixie circles created by Elves in Scandinavian folklore were most likely caused by fungus colonies, there was also a rarer kind, consisting of circular patches where the grass had been flattened:

On lake shores, where the forest met the lake, you could find elf circles. They were round places where the grass had been flattened like a floor. Elves had danced there. By Lake Tisaren, I have seen one of those. It could be dangerous and one could become ill if one had trodden over such a place or if one destroyed anything there (an account given in 1926, Hellström 1990:36).

Not long after WWII, the aerial surveys that were being made over large areas of Britain revealed some unexpected phenomena, undetectable from the ground. When the surveys photographed ripening crops or drought-stressed terrain they revealed what were soon termed "crop marks", the differential ripening of the crop that revealed differences in the subsoil. These patterns were found to be caused by the buried remnants of ancient buildings. Archaeological investigations were soon instigated, but, though many previously unsuspected archaeological sites were found, no crop circles were ever recorded. Skeptics argue that this would have pointed to circles as a modern phenomenon, even if the initial pranksters had not revealed themselves; believers reply different agendas may simply be at work in the modern day.

Crop Circles shot into prominence in the late 1970s as many circles began appearing throughout the English countryside. To date, thousands of circles have appeared at sites across the world, from disparate locations such as the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and Japan, as well as the U.S. and Canada.

Creators of crop circles.

Crop circle design.
To give you an insight into our early thought processes, we had designed a series of formations that used sigils, (pictorial spells), after lots of discussion we actually decided not to create any of those designs, just in case the spells actually worked! Read the full interview at Confessions.

In 1991, more than a decade after the phenomena began, two men announced that the phenomenon of crop circles was an idea thought up one evening in a pub in Southampton, England in 1978. World War II veteran Doug Bower and his friend Dave Chorley revealed that they made their crop circles using planks, rope, hats and wire as their only tools. Bower and Chorley stated to reporters that a small group of people can stomp down a sizable area of crop in a single night using simple tools.

The pair became slightly frustrated that their work had not received as much publicity as they had hoped. In 1981 they created a crop circle in Matterley Bowl, a natural ampi-theatre just outside Winchester, Hampshire - an area surrounded by roads from which a clear view of the field is available to drivers passing by.

Bower's wife had become increasingly suspicious of him due to noticing high levels of mileage in their car. Eventually, fearing that his wife suspected him of something else, Bower confessed to her and subsequently informed a British national newspaper.

Bower revealed on TV the method used, which was that of a four-foot-long plank with rope attached and circles of eight feet in diameter could be easily created. He stated that a 40-foot circle could be created by two men in a quarter of an hour. The designs were at first simple circles. When newspapers claimed that the circles could easily be explained by natural phenomena, Bower and Chorley chose 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 complex.

Dave Chorley died in 1996, and Doug Bower has made the occasional crop circle 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.

Circlemakers.org, perhaps the best-known group of contemporary crop circle makers, was founded by John Lundberg. Circlemakers have demonstrated that making what self-appointed cerealogist experts state are "unfakeable" crop circles is possible. One such cerealogist, G. Terence Meaden, was filmed claiming that a crop circle was genuine when the night before the making of that crop circle by humans was filmed. On the night of July 11-12, 1992, a crop-circle making competition, for a prize of several thousand pounds (partly funded by the Arthur Koestler Foundation), was held in Berkshire. The winning entry was produced by three helicopter engineers, using rope, PVC pipe, a trestle and a ladder. Another competitor used a small garden roller, a plank and some rope. Minimal equipment and preparation sufficed to produce even the most complex crop circle designs.

Scientific American published an article by Matt Ridley, who started making crop circles in northern England in 1991. He wrote about how easy it is to develop techniques using simple tools that can easily fool later observers. He reported on "expert" sources such as the Wall Street Journal who had been easily fooled, and mused about why people want to believe supernatural explanations for phenomena that are not yet explained.

Methods to create a hoaxed crop circle have been well-documented on the Internet.

The first people to be charged with creating a crop circle were Hungarian teenagers Gabor Takacs and Robert Dallos, both 17 and from the St. Stephen Agricultural Technicum, a high school in Hungary specializing in agriculture. On the night of June 8, 1992 they created a 36 meter diameter crop circle in a wheat field near Szekesfehervar, 43 miles southwest of Budapest.

On September 3rd they appeared on a Hungarian TV show and exposed the circle as a hoax showing photos of the field before and after the circle was made. As a result Aranykalasz Co. the owners of the land that the crop circle was created on sued the youngsters for Fts.630,000 (approx 6,000 United Kingdom pounds) in damages. The court eventually ruled that the boys were only responsible for the damage caused in the 36 meters diameter circle, amounting to about Fts.6,000 (47 United Kingdom pounds). They concluded that 99% of the damage to the crops was caused by the thousands of visitors that flocked to Szekesfehervar following the media's promotion of the circle. The fine was eventually paid for by the TV show, as were the boys' legal fees.

Paranormal enthusiasts argue that some designs have a degree of complexity that humans would not be able to easily recreate on paper, let alone in a field at night. They argue that the shapes of these formations are far too complex, and display a tremendously high level of symmetry which make it extremely difficult for a team of humans to create using just simple hand tools. Circle makers respond by noting that the only tool necessary for perfect symmetry is a measured length of rope rotated around a central pivot point, and more complex asymettrical shapes are created by using marked ropes as straight edges to position elements. Many popular arguments hinge on some part of the crop being left intact after the hoaxing. While something of this nature is difficult to ascertain, skilled crop circle creators are adept at using tractor tramlines and landscape features to avoid leaving other marks in the field. On the other hand, crop circles in Canada have been found in crop having no tramlines, as fertilization is done by aircraft.

Scientific investigation of crop circles.

Several scientists have become involved in crop circle research in search of the scientific perspective. The BLT Research Team is a prominent group which states as its objective "...the discovery, scientific documentation and evaluation of physical changes induced in plants, soils and other materials at crop circle sites by the energy (or energy system) responsible for creating them and to determine, if possible, from these data the specific nature and source of these energies". The BLT group have claimed that anomalous changes in the soil underlying crop circles have been found that could not be explained by conventional theory.

Other scientists include Dr. Jean-Noel Auburn, physicist and engineer; Dr. David Fisk, Scientific advisor to Prime Minister Thacher; Robert Hadley, professor of physics and astronomy; Dr Eltjo Haselhoff, theoretical physicist (Optics) Gerald Hawkin, internationally renowned astronomer; Dr. Simeon Hein, Ph.D. in Sociology; Masahiro Kahata, Electronic engineer; William Levengood, Biophysics; Oliver Lodge, spiritualist and scientist; Dr. Franz Lutz, Medical Doctor; Terrence Meaden, Meterorologist; David Probert, Surveyor; Archie Roy, Professor of Astronomy; Paul Vigay, New Sciences Research Journal;

Principal investigators of crop circles.

Colin Andrews is one of the senior investigators of the crop circle phenomenon and highly regarded by his peers. He has authored two books, including Crop Circles, Signs of Contact. In 1999, the Rockefeller family asked Colin Andrews to investigate crop circles. He did this in 1999 and 2000. He writes in his book his conclusion, which has now become the famous 80/20% statement. "Based in our research, I concluded that approximately 80 percent of all the crop circles we investigated in England from 1999 through the year 2000 were manmade. This was one of the most important research findings to date because it cut to the core of what is truly important: the remaining 20 percent of the crop circles showed no sign of human hands."

Freddy Silva authored a comprehensive text with his book Secrets in the Fields.(2002) He quotes Gerald Hawkin's summary "If crop circles are made by hoaxers, then they should stop doing it, because they are breaking the law and damaging the food supply. If they are made by UFO aliens, they shouldn't give us back the dates of our trips to Mars and the names of the men from the Titanic era - famous, clever, but now forgotten. If some are transcendental, the power behind it should realize that our culture is not now willing to accept transcendental happenings. But if they are indeed transcendental, then society will have to make a big adjustment in the years ahead."

Crop circle designs.

Crop Circle Barbury Castle.
1991 - Barbury Castle Crop Circle. The first major "breakthrough" formation that departed from the original patterns was Barbury Castle 1991. Some researchers believe that the Barbury formation was the "Rosetta Stone" to the understanding of the geometric nature of the dimensions in the universe.

Early examples of this phenomenon were usually simple circular patterns of various sizes, which led some people to speculate that it was a natural phenomenon. But after some years, more and more elaborate and complex geometric patterns have emerged.

There have been many recurring themes over the years. In general, the early formations (1970 - 2000) seemed to those who believe in a para-normal origin of the circles to be based on the principles of Sacred Geometry.

After the public admission of the original creators, crop circle activity skyrocketed. Each new design sought to be more complex than earlier designs. Today crop circle designs have increased in complexity to the point where they have become an art form in and of themselves.

John Lundberg, in an interview with Mark Pilkington, spoke about this change in crop circle designs, "I am rather envious of circlemakers in other countries. Expectations about the size and complexity of formations that appear in the United Kingdom are now very high, whereas the rather shabby looking Russian formation made the national news. Even Vasily Belchenko, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, was on site gushing about its origin: "There is no doubt that it was not man-made... an unknown object definitely landed there." If the same formation appeared in the United Kingdom it would undoubtedly be virtually ignored by researchers and the media alike."

The Stonehenge Julia Set was first reported on 7 July, 1996. It measured 900 by 500 feet, with 151 circles. The Treble Julia Set, widely felt to be the pinnacle of the crop circle formations in that year, was found on Windmill Hill near Yatesbury, Wiltshire in July 1996.

Later formations, those occurring after 2000, appear to be based on other principles, natural sciences and mathematics designs, including fractals. Many crop circles have fine intricate detail, regular symmetry and careful composition. Elements of three-dimensionality became more frequent, culminating in spectacular images of cube-shaped structures.

Crop illustrations which include cartoon characters have also appeared, and crop circles are also now being used in advertising.

Alternate origins theories on crop circles.

Many alternate origin theories exist among enthusiasts, who contend that some crop circles are not the products of mundane hoaxers.

Another belief is that crop circles are created by flying saucers landing in fields and flattening a neat circle in the crop. However, the increasing complexity of formations from the 1980s on make this conjecture seem unlikely.

Another hypothesis is that a man-made satellite in Earth orbit -- or other source -- is using some kind of beam (e.g., microwaves) to create the designs.

Heating stems of wheat with a short intense burst of microwave energy can produce wilting similar to that in a crop circle. Flattened stems often have the bend just below a stem-node , and also may feature blackened burn holes indicative of intense heating. Microwave heating has been shown to be capable of producing these effects.

It is postulated by believers of this theory that the U.S. Pentagon's "Star Wars" program has a satellite capable of delivering such a microwave beam. However, there is a reasonable counter-argument to this stating that there were no traces of supposed radiation detected in the crop circles , and that sub-node softening in arguably genuine bends rehardens without damage to the plants, which continue to grow in their new position. Often touted as evidence for the mystic origin of crop circles is the coincidence that many circles in the Avebury area of southern England occur near ancient sites such as Earth barrows or mounds, white horses carved in the chalk hills, and stone circles. Other ideas on their formation have been proposed include tornadoes, freak wind patterns, ball lightning, and something called "plasma vortices".

A number of witnesses claim to have observed circles being created, saying that it takes a few seconds and the corn falls flat like a fan being opened – though these accounts have never been supported by any evidence beyond the claimants' assertions.

There have been cases in which believers declared crop circles to be "the real thing", only to be confronted soon after with the people who created the circle and documented the fraud. Colin Andrews recalls a case in which he taken to a new crop circle which had been caught on tape, and on the way he was asked what it meant. He replied that it would be amazing. But when he got to the circle he could see it was hoaxed, still, the media reported what he said before he saw the circle.

Similar crop circle phenomena:

  • Lawn Cross of Eisenberg an der Raab .
  • Unusual Ground Markings .
  • In an unrelated phenomenon, fungal circles formed by a spreading mycelium are familiar. Older, larger fungal circles are not recognized when they have broken into arcs or patches. In Scandinavia and in Britain, the phenomenon of mushrooms or puffballs forming circles in a patch of meadow or pasture was referred to in folklore as älvringar, pixie circles or elf circles, and was attributed by countryfolk to mystical forces. This phenomenon is commonplace and is recognized as the natural growth of fungus colonies. .

New Age author Dan Joy in 1991 humorously suggested that crop circles are an advertising campaign displaying the logos of galaxy-wide corporations, preparing Earth for its forth coming admission to the Galactic Federation of planets.

Crop circles in popular culture.

  • In the film Chicken Little (2005), crop circles are created by aliens as they chase the main characters in a corn field. .
  • In the film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), Harold and Kumar hang glide over a field with a crop circle pattern in the shape of male genitalia. .
  • In the film Scary Movie 3 (2003), Spoof of Signs. Cindy has to investigate crop circles and prevent an alien invasion. .
  • In the film A Place To Stay (2002), crop circles of Wiltshire are the background for a supernatural love story. .
  • In the film Signs (2002), crop circles are attributed to the sinister motives of extraterrestrials. .
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book written by J. K. Rowling for the charity Comic Relief, a creature called a mooncalf occasionally performs strange dances flattening crops in fields "to the confusion of many muggles". .
  • The film Mifune (1999) apparently featured the first appearance of a crop circle in a fiction film. .
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Huntress (comics) is seen reading one of Question (comics)'s theories about Girl Scouts being responsible for the phenomenon .
  • On the cover of Led Zeppelin Remasters .

Crop circle advertising.

crop circle Shredded Wheat logo.
crop circle in the shape of the Shredded Wheat logo.

The United Kingdom based artists Circlemakers.org have been asked to create numerous crop circles since the mid 1990s for movies, TV shows, music videos, adverts and PR stunts. Clients to date have included Microsoft, Nike, Shredded Wheat, AMD, Hello Kitty, Pepsi, Weetabix, BBC, The Sun, Mitsubishi, O2, Big Brother,National Geographic , NBC-TV, Orange Mobile, History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

Circlemakers were asked to create a crop circle in the shape of the Shredded Wheat logo. No mean feat, as text has to be one of the most tricky elements to render accurately in crop. But armed with copious amounts of diagrams - eighteen in total - and a very early start 4 circlemakers were able to craft the standing Shredded Wheat logo inside a flattened heart shape in a back breaking 14 hours in a wheat field in Puckeridge, Hertfordshire. It was created on a farm that supplies Shredded Wheat with wheat that's used in the cereal. We think it was worth all the effort though, and we think you'll agree that it looks pretty amazing! There was a flurry of press coverage after we created the logo, but the real reason that we were asked to create the design was so that it can be used on the Shredded Wheat cereal packet in 2007, so keep your eyes peeled for it, we'll certainly have a box or three in our cupboard once it hits the shelves. See circlemakers for more info.

New Age author Dan Joy in 1991 humorously suggested that crop circles are an advertising campaign displaying the logos of galaxy-wide corporations, preparing Earth for its forth coming admission to the Galactic Federation of planets.

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