By Matt DeReno
CoverUps.com Staff Writer
Out of nowhere, they seemingly appeared. Ring around the collar of an extraterrestrial nature that simply won’t go away. The intricate designs are discernible form the air, weirdly painted on the canvasses of corn fields. This phenomenon first started appearing in England and now is happening just about everywhere else around the world. What are they and where did they come from? What artist created them, what kind of brush did he use?
CoverUps.com takes a look at the perplexing mystery of the crop circle phenomenon.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Crop circles are strange geometric designs carved in various fields and that have appeared throughout the years in rural farms. People continually insist these are the works of alien visitors from outer space or some other dimension.
The phenomena first appeared to be reported in England in the late 1970's.
Although two men, Dave Chorley and Doug Bower came forward in 1991 and claimed to have been making crop circles in England since the 1970s, many cereologists (crop circle enthusiasts) claim the designs and the technology needed to make them are for more complex than what a crew of humans could possibly have produced with mere planks, rope and wire. Moreover, some claim the intricate patterns are even difficult to reproduce with a computer.
These cereologists put forth paranormal or extraterrestrial explanations for the circles. Many theories abound; each one equally captivating in its own right.
HOW MANY ARE THERE?
About 10,000 crop formations have been reported globally since the late 70's. Hundreds have even been reported throughout the US. The first alleged US crop circle was reported in 1964.
A GREAT HOAX?
In 1991, more than a decade after the phenomenon really took off; Chorley and Bower, who both lived in Southampton, England proclaimed that the circles were an idea conceived as a prank. Allegedly, they were drinking buddies at a pub near Winchester, Hampshire and it was during an evening in 1976 over drinks, that the idea for creating these circles first occurred to them.
Inspired by the 1966 Tully Saucer Nests, Bower and Chorley claimed to have made their crop circles using planks, rope, hats and wire. They went on to explain they used a four-foot-long plank attached to a rope, which they said allowed them to easily create circles, some at least eight feet in diameter. As proof, the two men were able to make a 40-foot circle in 15 minutes.
However, 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. This area is surrounded by roads from which a clear view of the field is available to drivers; an ideal spot to impress anyone driving by.
Their designs were at first simple circles. Bower and Chorley made more complex patterns to drive the point home that indeed human hands were more than capable of creating such baffling field art.
So why would they finally admit to making them after pulling their hoax off successfully for so many years? The answer, Bower claimed, was extra-marital rather than extraterrestrial.
Bower's wife had become suspicious of him, noticing high levels of mileage in their car. She soon suspected him of adultery. At last Bower confessed to her. Shortly thereafter, he and Chorley informed a British national newspaper that they were behind the mysterious circles.
Chorley detailed his technique as such: simple wire with a loop, hanging down from a cap - the loop positioned over one eye. This eye could be used to focus on a landmark to aid in the creation of straight lines. However, later designs of crop circles became dramatically more complicated and it would seem more detailed tools would be needed.
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.
It is hard to fathom that a crew of humans could make these spectacular sights unnoticed by anyone else. This has been one of the underlining arguments in support of more exotic theories as to the origin of crop circles. We present some of the more common theories below:
Author Colin Andrews published a book entitled Crop Circles, Signs of Contact. In it, he concluded that approximately 80% of all crop circles investigated in England from 1999-2000 were man made. He felt this was one of the most important research findings to date because it boiled it down to one amazing fact: the remaining 20% of crop circles showed no sign of human creation. His conclusion then called for an extraterrestrial source for the circles.
This claim has been contested by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), a world-wide organization that encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view.
CSICOP notes that some of the alleged 20% of the so-called “genuine” crop circles have been documented as man-made. CSICOP alleges there is no reliable criterion for distinguishing between “genuine” crop circles and those that are man-made hoaxes. CSICOP is today known as CSI. So, in the end, CSICOP asserts there is no way to prove beings from outer space made them, at least scientifically.
Relation to Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles or more than 80 kilometers between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru.
These bizarre lines were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and 700 AD. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys and lizards. The most amazing fact about them is that they cannot be recognized on the ground, only from the air.
Since it is presumed the Nazca people could never have seen their work from this vantage point, there has been much speculation on the builders' abilities and motivations. Were they sending messages to the heavens, communicating with extraterrestrials? Maybe the extraterrestrials made them to communicate with the Nazca culture? Could it be that crop circles are merely an updated version of Nazca phenomena? There is no evidence, but there are clearly some eerie similarities.
One research scientist holds that “columns of ionized air” swoop down like little mini-tornados. It is these anomalous events that create the shapes in the crops.
Dr. W.C. Levengood, who published the paper, Anatomical Anomalies In Crop Formation Plants believes what is creating the crop circle is a complex energy system that he describes as a "spinning plasma vortex" of ions with microwave frequencies that rapidly heat water in plants, causing them to collapse to the ground with stems not cracked or broken.
Further, the microwave frequencies can heat up water in the plant's growth nodes which burst out, creating small holes that have often been found in extraordinary crop patterns. Those complex energies can also affect the seeds. Dr. Haselhoff never actually mentions where these supposed vortices come from or why they even exist.
Manifestations of Dreams
Joseph E. Mason, of GreatDreams.com, believes our dreams have something to do with the formation of crop circles.
His extensive experience with dreams and meaningful coincidences is all part of the story. He believes that the crop circle formations are related to our collective unconscious.
Whereas most serious researchers favor the theory that the formations are, for the most part, manmade or the work of aliens, Mason believes crop circles may well be “a function of the collective unconscious of mankind,” as opposed to actual physical entities from another solar system.
Could our minds really have that kind of power?
Great Balls of Light
The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles, by Dr. Eltjo H. Haselhoff, was the first popular scientific book about the world-wide appearance of crop circles.
Below are some statements that Dr. Haselhoff has made concerning crop circles:
“The complexity of the crop circle phenomenon is tremendously underestimated… because its true nature is unknown to the general public. Obviously, there are people trying to imitate the real thing, but the suggestion that these entire crop formations are made by men with simple flattening tools is by far insufficient to explain the well-documented observations.”
Dr. Hasselhoff claims those observations include “unambiguous and consistent biophysical anomalies” in the flattened plants, inside the circles, all of which have been published in peer-reviewed scientific literature.
Along with the increasing number of crop circle events, there are also a growing number of eyewitnesses, who claim to have seen how crop circles appeared before their eyes in just a few seconds.
If they are to be believed, several of these people say that bright, “fluorescent balls of light” hovered above the fields at the time circles magically formed before their eyes.
“After some straightforward research, it was discovered that the plant stems inside these formations had increased in diameter, as an effect of intensive heating, with an astonishing circular symmetry,” reported Dr. Haselhoff.
This effect perfectly matched the radiation pattern of an electromagnetic point source at a height of four meters and ten centimeters above that field, Dr. Haselhoff said.
Dr. Haselhoff claims this is solid physical evidence that these eyewitnesses spoke the truth. Dr. Haselhoff applied this analysis to other crop circles, which had been investigated by others in the past. He claims to have obtained identical results.
Curiously, his analysis failed dramatically on several man-made crop circles. The logical conclusion is that “balls of light” must indeed be involved in the creation of crop circles.
He submitted his findings to the international and peer-reviewed scientific journal Physiologia Plantarum, a plant biology journal, where the article was eventually published.
“This has important consequences,” Dr. Haselhoff would later claim. “The hypothesis that these balls of light are involved in the creation of crop circles is now no longer just a hypothesis, but a scientifically accepted fact.”
Dr. Haselhoff's findings are in perfect agreement with the opinion of the American researchers John Burks, Levengood and Nancy Talbot – the famous BLT Team. They suggested in two other scientific articles that the plant alterations in crop circles were the result of electromagnetism.
Naturally, the trio, like other crop circle enthusiasts, has been attacked by skeptics.
Dr. Haselhoff sums up his feelings on crop circles:
“Something very strange is going on. No-one can deny this. Anyone who claims the opposite clearly does not know what he is talking about… I consider it the duty of every scientist to figure out what on earth is going on.”
The main criticism of alternative theories is that evidence of paranormal origins, alleged eyewitness testimony aside, is relatively scant. Crop circles are easily explained, the skeptics say, as the result of pranksters.
In fact, numerous cases have been documented where researchers declared crop circles to be "the real thing." However, all too soon they are confronted with the hoaxers who created the circle. Another damning fact is the media coverage effect.
As media coverage of the crop circles increased throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, the frequency at which crop circles appeared also increased, as well as the number of locations they were sighted in. This leads many to believe that the creation of crop circles is a ‘copy-cat’ activity. After all, would aliens increase the frequency of creating crop circles due to greater media coverage? Not likely, it would seem.
THE COVERUPS.COM CONCLUSION
The answer to the mystery of crop circles is still a perplexing one. Be it in the deep inner reaches of outer space or within the mysterious workings of human psychological projection, the real source is unknown. However, whether they be balls of light or messages from beings of higher intelligence, they all appear to happen with enough frequency to people that would throw doubt to the hoax theory. Additionally, it seems hard to believe that men with simple rope contraptions could create some of the complex patterns that are even difficult to replicate on paper with a protractor and compass.
We must consider then:
If a race from another part of the galaxy wanted to communicate, would they do so by using our crop fields as some kind of canvas to communicate? We have to be especially aware that many believe that mathematics will lead us to language that may allow us to communicate to other lifeforms that are extraterrestrial in nature.
As we stand on the threshold of a brave new world, as space exploration continually progresses in its quest to answer the mysteries of the universe we would be remiss to neglect the mysteries right in our very own crop fields. We need to encourage further exploration of the crop circle riddle. Maybe one day the mystery of crop circles will be answered but until then it appears crop circles will baffle us for some time.