What are Crop Circles?
Visualization of Vibration or Sound

What are Crop Circles? - A crop circle is a sizable pattern created by the flattening of a crop such as wheat, barley, rye, or maize. The term crop circle entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1990. Since appearing in the media in the 1970s, Crop circles have become the subject of speculation by various paranormal, ufological, and anomalistic investigators ranging from proposals that they were created by freak meteorological phenomena to messages from extraterrestrials.

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.

Most are Convinced they are Hoaxes

Most critical observers, and the scientific mainstream, are convinced that crop circles are hoaxes engineered by humans, and indeed more and more crop formations have been claimed by their makers. This explanation, supported by the documentation produced by some crop-circle hoaxers, has the advantage of not requiring the assumption of the existence of flying saucers or other as-yet-unobserved phenomena.

However, there are many contending hypotheses which assume that at least some crop circles are not the products of mundane hoaxers; these hypotheses vary in their degree of scientific rigor, but all fall to some extent outside the mainstream. One modern 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.

Vibration of Sound

Some enthusiasts suggest that crop circle may be cymatics, the visualization of vibration or sound. According to this hypothesis, the complex patterns are two-dimensional geometric or visual representations of sound frequencies, with higher sound frequencies producing more complex shapes similar to both mandalas and crop circle designs. Crops that were bent using the microwave technique showed all signs of various radiations and moisture differences.

The original crops in the crop circle showed no abnormalities compared to normal crops, except for being mysteriously bent. 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 are always anecdotal and have never been supported by any evidence beyond the claimants' assertions. Crop circle enthusiasts claim that there are other features of crop circles that undercut the hoax theory. They say that bends in the corn in many circles occur at the node, while the flattening of the corn by hoaxers produces a crack at any point in the stem, and some scientific studies on apical nodes bear them out. Also they say that flattened corn often lies in groomed layers, rather than random crushings.

Devices malfunction near Crop Circles

While 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, the bending issue remains in dispute. There are numerous reports of electronic and mechanical equipment breaking down in crop circles.

Cameras frequently malfunction, and even when they do work, the results may be overexposed, streaked, smeared, or entirely black. Video equipment is also very vulnerable, and often picks up severe interference. Battery draining is quite common, and even fresh power packs can die. Cell phones often fail to operate within a formation but sometimes work perfectly again if taken outside it. Magnetic compasses frequently behave erratically both inside crop formations and when flying directly over them. Witnesses sometimes report TV, cell phone, smoke alarm and security device interference or malfunctions during nights when a crop circle forms nearby.

The night before the appearance of the 1991 Barbury Castle tetrahedron, residents in the nearby village of Broughton experienced a power blackout and many residents reported balls of coloured light flying above the field where the formation later manifested, along with a low rumbling noise.