Whether they’re the product of visiting UFOs or anonymous creatives armed with ropes and wooden planks, here’s some of the most curious crop circle trivia…
Crop circles were first discovered in the 1600s, and more are still being found today in large fields around the world. To date, more than 10,000 circles have been discovered, but unexplained appearances of them are often shrouded in mystery and intrigue. What is their purpose? Some circles span hundreds of feet, meaning their entire pattern can only be viewed from the sky!
We’re not alone
Who creates these huge patterns in the crop fields? And how do they manage to do it without being noticed? Some cerealogists (people who study crop circles), have suggested that the symbols depicted are messages in another language that have been left by alien life forms. Another theory is that the signs are actually mistaken signals caused by intelligent life when visiting our planet… spooky!
They’re not exactly ‘circles’…
From Russia, to Japan and even Canada – crop circles have appeared all over the globe. In many cases, their structure tends to be elliptical rather than circular, with the crop (usually wheat) being either burned, bent, flattened or woven to form complex patterns. Non-circular geometric creations have been found in locations including Austria, New-Zealand, Peru, Romania, Israel and Egypt, so the term crop ‘circle’ doesn’t always apply to the many straight lines, triangles and other complex geometrical shapes that have been discovered over the years.
A force of nature
It is said that some circles are formed because the crops within them have had long-term exposure to pollutant damage, while the surrounding crops are healthy. It has even been suggested that a mysterious magnetic force (caused by a three-degree shift in the Earth’s magnetic field), somehow causes the plants to form such intricate shapes in farmer’s fields.
Colin Andrews, who wrote the book Crop Circles – Signs Of Contact claims to have actually seen aliens forming crop circles. He claims he saw lasers, balls of light and a tornado that produced a pattern of geometric shapes in the field where he was standing.
The composition of any crop circle is overwhelmingly complex. Many are shaped into vortexes or swirling circles of epic proportions. Some of these are created according to the ‘golden ratio’ (in mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities). It is represented by the Greek letter ‘phi’, and is also known as the ‘God ratio’. Other examples of crop circles have followed Pythagorean theorem or Euclidean geometry – both of which are considered impossible to achieve by hand with tools.
When soil samples have been taken from beneath crop circle patterns and examined, researchers have found traces of radioactive isotopes with short spans that could be from beyond Earth. Such radioactive material can only be created in nuclear reactors, so how did it get there? Unexplained small iron beads have also been found at many sites.
Cream of the crop
The creation of a crop circle involves the working with crops that correspond to different times of year: rapeseed in April and May, barley in May and June, and wheat from June to early September, as all grains fold down.
It has been discovered that crop circles are not spread evenly across landscapes. They frequently appear near cultural heritage monuments such as Stonehenge or Avebury. Crop circles have also been discovered close to ley line sites, giving them spiritual and mystical associations.
In the 1948 Brothers’ Grimm story The Twelve Swans, a farmer every morning found a circular ring of flattened grain on his field (seemingly caused by fungus). After several attempts to determine the cause, his son saw princesses disguised as swans, who took off their disguises and danced in the field. Crop rings produced by fungi may have inspired such tales, since folklore suggests these rings are created by dancing wolves or fairies.
The great Pi puzzle
The most complex circle ever seen in Britain was found in a barley field near Wroughton in Wiltshire. The formation was 150 metres in diameter and revealed a coded version of pi. It is suggested that it was created by mathematically-minded aliens on a trip to Earth.