Since before the release of M. Night Shymalan's
Signs in 2002 crop circles have been a part of pop culture.
Thousands are reported every year in over 70 countries.
There is no doubt that these peculiar designs have been
popping up in fields all over the world. But are they, as
the movie suggests, an intricate mapping system used by
First lets delve into the history of crop circles.
What are they exactly? Crop circles are unexplained designs
that are created over the span of one night. They
occur in a field of organic material or snow in which an
impression can be made. Though the earliest known formation
was in 1647, significant numbers began to appear
in the early 1970's. These early circles were comprised of
individual circles swirled in either a clockwise or counterclockwise
direction. A major change came in 1990 when
the circles became complex pictographs composed of
straight lines, angles, and spiral rings.
Crop circle societies have been developed to study
this phenomena and determine their meanings and origins.
These societies put forth wide-ranging theories about
crop circles that span from elaborate hoaxes to a God
force. One thing is clear. These societies have a problem
agreeing on a method to test the validity of a formation.
Due to the complexity of the patterns, some theories that
imply a hoax or chemical reaction have been ruled out by
most societies due to the molecular change that is found
in the affected plants. One of the more popular theories
was the Plasma Vortex Theory. A theory proposed by Dr.
Terrence Meaden in the 1980's which attempted to explain
spirally generated circle patterns as a product of
natural atmospheric phenomena. Meaden compared the
vortex to such natural happenings as dust devils and tornadoes,
but also including friction-generated plasma that
accounted for the anomalous light phenomena, which many
eyewitnesses had seen. Meaden claimed the forces involved
were until this time "unrecognized helical or toroidal
forces" which had "subsidiary electromagnetic properties
due to self-electrification." The vortex would apparently
form high above the ground, then suddenly "breakdown"
to the ground level in an axial strike, much like
lightning. The theory was reasonable for a number of years,
with further corroboration obtained in Japan by Dr. Y.H.
Ohtsuki and Professor H. Ofuruton. Their lab research produced
similar vortices by electrostatic discharge and microwave
interference. Professor H. Kikuchi of Japan carried
out theoretical work on the plasma-vortex theory. He
modeled the vortex using energy potentials including an
interaction term between an axial electric field and the
earth's magnetic field.
The new intricacies of the patterns has led to new
theories that have been developed to support the lines and
angles used in crop formations. The Gaia Hypothesis by
James Lovelock is one such theory. In summary it says
that the Earth itself is using its own energy in order to
create crop formations. The purpose being to send the
inhabitants of Earth a message. What that message may
be, Lovelock doesn't know. "The Earth," he says, "Behaves
as if it were a super organism, made up from all the
living things and from their material environment." Many
speculate that the earth is trying to warn us about our
damaging practices. If that is the message Earth is trying
to get across it certainly is not a clear one. Perhaps instead
of making undecipherable symbols in fields it should
focus its energy and zap the pollutant directly.
All theories have the same basic downfall as the
theory we see here. At some point, they break down. We
find a person looking for connections other than UFO because
UFO validity is something that is hard to test. The
only proof there is of this being connected to the UFO
phenomena are the accounts of both being seen in the
same area. Perhaps we will have sifted through all the
theories and hypothesis before something catastrophic
shows us just where this phenomena originates and what
it means. Whatever the cause, for now farmers are generally
elated to have their fields "plagued" with this phenomena,
because in the year following the crop occurrence
their yields typically increase 30-40%. So Gaia or Aliens
please continue to send us your message and we will
continue to reap the benefits.
Originally published in Acrimony Magazine August 2003