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Crop circles:

There are circles of bent down plants that appear mysteriously in fields mostly at night. Crop circles do not always take circular shapes, but make up conglomerations of circles, hemispheres, lines, and many other shapes, recently evolving in very complex and highly symbolic pictures. Currently, nobody agrees as to their origins; the explanations range from hoaxes to aliens to other supernatural forces such as radiation or even ghosts.

Main page of the crop circle section here. My findings on the matter are here

Rockefeller to fund study:

Cracking the Crop Circle Mystery

by Julian Champkin

Laurence Rockefeller, the American millionaire and philanthropist, is funding scientific research into crop circles, it emerged yesterday. Why? After all, this is a problem that everyone thought had been solved.

The Crop Circle Mystery caused headlines and arguments nearly every summer for 20 years. Strange shapes were appearing in cornfields in Wiltshire and other counties. From the ground, the corn was seen to be beaten down, amazingly regular. From the air, the patterns appeared.

They came first as simple circles. Later, there were circles within circles, then more intricate patterns still - circles radiating spiral arms, circles joined by straight lines, circles arranged in squares, even snowflake patterns of amazing intricacy and beauty.

For 20 years arguments raged. Were they caused by circular winds? Or were mysterious forces at work? The obvious solution was human hoax. But if so, how?

In 1992, two Southampton men, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, confessed to making corn circles: every summer night for 20 years. Their method was simple: rakes and planks of wood to bash down the crop, ropes to guide them to a perfect circle, loops of wire on hats to guide straight lines.

It began as fun but, as UFO theories snowballed, they wanted to see how credulous people could be.

Dave Chorley died in 1996. The pair had retired from circle-making some time before. That should have been the end of the mystery. Yet corn circles continued to appear.

"They are worldwide," says Michael Green, President of the Center for Crop Circle Studies. And this week, the first of this season's British crop, 12 of them, have been seen in fields of oil-seed rape in Hampshire and at Milk Hill, Wiltshire.

Andrew Thomas, author of the crop-circle book, Vital Signs, claims that the Bower-Chorley 'confession' was itself a hoax: "They could not explain how they laid the stalks so perfectly; nor why the circles have continued to appear."

And now Laurence Rockefeller, brother of the late Nelson Rockefeller, is funding a researcher to re-investigate the phenomenon.

He is paying Connecticut-based Colin Andrews to engage staff and they have flown reconnaissance flights over Wiltshire and Hampshire. Andrews has a database of 10,000 crop circles. With computers and satellites, the research and debate has re-opened. So what could cause them?

"First theories were circular winds, mini-cyclones or "dust-devils [tiny tornadoes]," says Montague Keen, scientific adviser to the Center for Crop-Circle Studies for three years. "A meteorologist devised a theory of "plasma vortexes", spiraling winds of electrically-charged air."

Ball lightning was another possibility - again circular, again involving powerful and little-understood forces of electricity.

"But straight lines do not come from natural phenomena," says Keen. "The patterns became increasingly complex and no natural phenomenon can change and evolve like that. There were too many for them all to be hoaxes."

A U.S. physicist found evidence that corn inside the circles under-goes chemical and biological changes. It takes up more nitrates than corn outside, and microscopic holes form in the stem tissue. These changes seem to argue for a sudden, sharp infusion of energy into the circle - far more than could come from men with planks or rollers.

"I was never quite convinced that his research was sufficiently rigorous," says Mr. Keen, 'but there were certainly electromagnetic changes within circles. Compasses behaved strangely; people felt either distress or euphoria inside the circles; and batteries went flat unaccountably often.

"All this seems to point away from hoax towards something very strange, indeed. There is clearly some kind of intelligence behind them."

And if it is not natural intelligence? "Well, then you are thrown back to imagining some wholly unnatural intelligence." As, for example, some form of psychic projection from human beings - dead or alive.

'Some shapes of the early Eighties seemed similar to shapes carved into rocks by Paleolithic man,' said Michael Green, President of the Center for Crop Circle Studies.

Were mental energies of past minds being channeled into cornfields?

The first corn-circle for which evidence is claimed appeared in Hertfordshire in 1678. A pamphlet shows a woodcut of a circle mown in a field of oats, and the devil mowing.

The pamphlet describes the sky over the field that night as being 'all of a flame'; so here, too, for those who are willing to believe, is a link with flying saucers and UFOs.

For, of course, there are the aliens as the final theory of crop circles. Michael Green does not believe that little green men are responsible - but he believes some kind of non-human intelligence is behind them.

He points to a succession of shapes, from simple to complex to very complex indeed. Can these be messages to be read by all of mankind?

"These are written large on the landscape. They are there to be seen. There is a non-human intelligence behind them," says Mr. Green. "That's what points one towards thinking the unthinkable."

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This page was last updated on July 1, 2012.