Crop circleFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaFor the irrigation method that produces circular fields of crops, see center pivot irrigation.A 780 ft (240 m) crop circle in the form of a double (six-sided) triskelion composed of 409circles. Milk Hill, England, 2001A crop circle is a sizable pattern created by the flattening of a crop such as wheat, barley, rye,maize, or rapeseed. Crop circles are also referred to as crop formations, because they are notalways circular in shape. While the exact date crop circles began to appear is unknown, thedocumented cases have substantially increased from the 1970s to current times. Twenty-sixcountries reported approximately ten thousand crop circles in the last third of the 20th century.Ninety percent of those were located in southern England. Many of the formations appearing inthat area are positioned near ancient monuments, such as Stonehenge. According to one study,nearly half of all circles found in the UK in 2003 were located within a 15 km (9.3 miles) radiusof Avebury.Contents[hide] 1 History o 1.1 Bower and Chorley o 1.2 Art and business o 1.3 Legal implications 2 Explanations o 2.1 Man-made o 2.2 Weather o 2.3 Paranormal o 2.4 Animal activity 3 See also
4 References 5 Further reading History1678 pamphlet on the "Mowing-Devil".The earliest recorded image resembling a crop circle is depicted in a 17th century Englishwoodcut called the Mowing-Devil. The image depicts the Devil with a scythe mowing (cutting)a circular design in a field of oats. The pamphlet containing the image states that the farmer,disgusted at the wage his mower was demanding for his work, insisted that he would rather have"the devil himself" perform the task.A historical report of crop circles, republished (from Nature, 1880) in January 2000 Journalof Meteorology describes the 1880 investigations by amateur scientist John Rand Capron: The storms about this part of Surrey have been lately local and violent, and the effects produced in some instances curious. Visiting a neighbours farm on Wednesday evening (21st), we found a field of standing wheat considerably knocked about, not as an entirety, but in patches forming, as viewed from a distance, circular spots....I could not trace locally any circumstances accounting for the peculiar forms of the patches in the field, nor indicating whether it was wind or rain, or both combined, which had caused them, beyond the general evidence everywhere of heavy rainfall. They were suggestive to me of some cyclonic wind action ...Most historical accounts of crop circles are anecdotal, in some cases describing crops being cutor burnt rather than flattened. One report given in 1966 from the town of Tully,Queensland, Australia, came from a sugar cane farmer who said he witnessed a saucer-shapedcraft rise 30 or 40 feet (12 m) up from a swamp and then fly away. When he went to investigatethe location where he thought the saucer had landed, he found the reeds intricately woven in a
clockwise fashion on top of the water. Reportedly, the woven reeds are said to have been able tohold the weight of 10 men.Public attention to crop circles rose in the late 1970s as many circles began appearing throughoutthe English countryside. This phenomenon became widely known in the late 1980s, after themedia started to report crop circles in Hampshire and Wiltshire. To date, approximately 10,000crop circles have been reported internationally, from locations such as the former Soviet Union,the UK, Japan, the U.S. and Canada. Skeptics note a correlation between crop circles, recentmedia coverage, and the absence of fencing and/or anti-trespassing legislation.Although farmers have expressed concern at the damage caused to their crops, local response tothe appearance of crop circles can be enthusiastic, with locals taking advantage of the increase oftourism and visits from scientists, crop circle researchers, and individuals seeking spiritualexperiences. The market for crop-circle interest has consequently generated bus or helicoptertours of circle sites, walking tours, T-shirts and book sales.The last decade has witnessed crop formations with increased size and complexity of form, somefeaturing as many as 2000 different shapes, and some incorporating complex mathematicaland scientific characteristics. Bower and ChorleyIn 1991, self-professed pranksters Doug Bower and Dave Chorley made headlines claiming itwas they who started the phenomenon in 1978 with the use of simple tools consisting of a plankof wood, rope, and a baseball cap fitted with a loop of wire to help them walk in a straight line.Inspired by Australian crop circle accounts from 1966, Doug and Dave reportedly made morethan 200 crop circles from 1978–1991 and claimed to be responsible for most if not all circlesmade prior to 1987. After their announcement, the two men demonstrated making a cropcircle. Despite general acceptance of their story, crop circle researchers remain skeptical ofmany of their claims. Since their revelation, crop formations have continued to appeareach year, often in greater number, size, and complexity. Art and businessSince the early 1990s the UK arts collective founded by artists Rod Dickinson and JohnLundberg (and subsequently includes artists Wil Russell and Rob Irving), named theCirclemakers, have been creating some crop circles in the UK and around the world both as partof their art practice and for commercial clients.On the night of July 11–12, 1992, a crop-circle making competition, for a prize of severalthousand UK pounds (partly funded by the Arthur Koestler Foundation), was held in Berkshire.The winning entry was produced by three Westland Helicopters engineers, using rope, PVC pipe,a trestle and a ladder. Another competitor used a small garden roller, a plank and some rope.In 2002, Discovery Channel commissioned five aeronautics and astronautics graduate studentsfrom MIT to create crop circles of their own, aiming to duplicate some of the features claimed to
distinguish "real" crop circles from the known fakes such as those created by Bower andChorley. The creation of the circle was recorded and used in the Discovery Channeldocumentary Crop Circles: Mysteries in the Fields. Legal implicationsIn 1992 Hungarian youths Gábor Takács and Róbert Dallos, both then 17, were the first peopleto face legal action after creating a crop circle. Takács and Dallos, of the St. Stephen AgriculturalTechnicum, a high school in Hungary specializing in agriculture, created a 36-metre (118 ft)diameter crop circle in a wheat field near Székesfehérvár, 43 miles (69 km) southwest ofBudapest, on June 8, 1992. On September 3, the pair appeared on Hungarian TV and exposed thecircle as a hoax, showing photos of the field before and after the circle was made. As a result,Aranykalász Co., the owners of the land, sued the youngsters for 630,000 Ft (approximatelyUS$3,000) in damages. The presiding judge ruled that the students were only responsible for thedamage caused in the circle itself, amounting to about 6,000 Ft (approximately US$30), and that99% of the damage to the crops was caused by the thousands of visitors who flocked toSzékesfehérvár following the medias promotion of the circle. The fine was eventually paid bythe TV show, as were the students legal fees.In 2000, Matthew Williams became the first man in the UK to be arrested for causing criminaldamage after making a crop circle near Devizes. ExplanationsFormations usually are made overnight, but have also been made during the day. While it is notknown how all crop circles are formed, various theories have been put forth ranging from naturalphenomenon and man-made hoaxes, to the paranormal and even animals. Man-madeThe most widely known method for a person or group to construct a crop formation is to tie oneend of a rope to an anchor point, and the other end to a board which is used to crush the plants.Some crop formations are paid for by companies who use them as advertising. As anexplanation of some of the more complex formations, physicists have suggested the use of GPS,lasers, and portable microwave generators. WeatherSome have suggested crop circles are the result of extraordinary meteorological phenomenaranging from freak tornadoes to ball lightning. The first known published reference to thepossibility of crop formations being the result of natural phenomena dates back to 1880 in whichinvestigator and amateur scientist John Rand Capron theorized the formations may have been theproduct of "cyclonic wind action..."  Physicist Stephen Hawking expressed the opinion in1992 that, "Corn circles are either hoaxes or formed by vortex movement of air".
 ParanormalSketch of a spaceship creating crop circles, sent to UK Ministry of Defence circa 1998.Since appearing in the media in the 1970s, crop circles have become the subject of speculationby various paranormal, ufological, and anomalistic investigators ranging from proposals thatthey were created by bizarre meteorological phenomena to messages from extraterrestrialbeings.Many crop circles have been found near ancient sites such as Stonehenge, a prehistoricmonument located in the English county of Wiltshire. They have also been found near mounds ofearth and stones raised over a grave or graves, also known as tumuli barrows, or barrows andchalk horses, or trenches dug and filled with rubble made from brighter material than the naturalbedrock, often chalk. There has also been speculation that crop circles have a relation to leylines. Many New Age groups incorporate crop circles into their belief systems.Some have related crop circles to the Gaia hypothesis, alleging that "Gaia", the earth, is actuallyalive and that crop circles are messages or responses to stimuli such as global warming andhuman pollution. It asserts that the earth may be modeled as if a single super-organism, in thatearthly components (e.g. biota, climate, temperature, sunlight, etc.) influence each other and areorganized to function and develop as a whole.The main criticism of alleged non-human creation of crop circles is that while evidence of theseorigins, besides eyewitness testimonies, is essentially absent, some are definitely known to be thework of human pranksters and others can be adequately explained as such. There have beencases in which researchers declared crop circles to be "the real thing", only to be confronted withthe people who created the circle and documented the fraud. In his 1997 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan discussed alien-based theories ofcrop circle formation. Sagan concluded that no empirical evidence existed to link UFOs withcrop circles. Many others have demonstrated how complex crop circles can be created.Scientific American published an article by Matt Ridley, who started making crop circles innorthern England in 1991. He wrote about how easy it is to develop techniques using simpletools that can easily fool later observers. He reported on "expert" sources such as the Wall StreetJournal who had been easily fooled and mused about why people want to believe supernaturalexplanations for phenomena that are not yet explained. Methods of creating a crop circle are nowwell documented on the Internet.
Among others, paranormal enthusiasts, ufologists, and anomalistic investigators have offeredhypothetical explanations that have been criticized as pseudoscientific by skeptical groups likethe Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.Responding to local beliefs that "extraterrestrial beings" in UFOs were responsible for cropcircles appearing in Indonesia, the government and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency(Lapan) described them as "man-made". Thomas Djamaluddin, research professor of astronomyand astrophysics at Lapan stated: "We have come to agree that this thing cannot be scientificallyproven. Scientists have put UFOs in the category of pseudoscience." Animal activityIn 2009, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania stated that Australian wallabies hadbeen found creating crop circles in fields of opium poppies, which are grown legally formedicinal use, after consuming some of the opiate-laden poppies and running in circles. A crop circle in Switzerland. Aerial view of crop formation in Diessenhofen, Switzerland, July 2008 A crop circle in the form of a triskelion