Scientific Methods

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

CROP CIRCLES- SCIENCE OR A HOAX

Imagine you are a farmer and you have planted your field of cereals, say wheat one hundred hectares. The weather and season has favored you well and you are expecting a bounty harvest. You have even toasted with your friends in the bar last night because you are going to get a good profit from your fields. You go to bed that night and when you wake in the morning since you slept late and had a hang over you are met by a battery of journalists. Curious neighbors and funny looking tourists then some guys who says they are scientists and others investigators who ask you whether this is you farm. Before being rude you as you should be asking them what they are doing you think twice and ask what is going on. The word is let out……… crop circle.

Crop circles are areas of cereal or similar crops that have been systematically flattened to form various geometric patterns1. These circles are well drawn on the cereals creating the most beautiful patterns of circles ever known. The first ever recorded crop circle is in the 17th Century woodcut pamphlet with the Mowing-Devil’s story2. Originally crop circles were in England and shot to prominence in 1970’s but currently they have appeared in many other countries like Soviet Union, Japan, America and Canada1. There has been a lot of debate as to whether this phenomenon is man- made, matural causes(climatic) or divine intervention from God or gods.

1991, two men Doug Bower and his friend Dave Chorley revealed that they made their crop circles using planks, rope, hats and wire as their only tools and had conceived the idea in a bar at Southampton, England in 1978. They later demonstrated how they drew their crop circles the simple tools they had. Therefore infront of the press they admitted the phenomenon as a hoax and had making this a human passion3. This gave credence to the argument that the crop circles were a hoax. Knowledge shows that such admissions can be faked and by calling the media it just can serve just to remove mystic aspect of the circles. The example of Piltdown’s man hoax is one4. Press is normally used to put sensatioanlism to a story and I suggest maybe someone didn’t like the line of study being persued and suggested a hoax be created.

Science like any other field is faced with so many contreversies or what one would call politics. One person may be searching the truth but one maliciously is looking to make them look a fool. Even though some of the circles can be man made there are others that have been authentic. In some of them there are no signs of the grains seeds being broken. How can they expalin for the designs being made that were so complex that they cannot be remade on paper alone let alone in a field at night. see http://www.circlemakers.org/1. Actually one retired American astronomer Gerald S. Hawkins wrote a letter to Doug Bower and Dave Chorley asking “managed to discover and incorporate a number of ingenious, previously unknown geometric theorems - of the type that appear in antique textbooks - into what he called their :artwork in the crops”3. Hawkins has gone ahead to discover that the ratio of the diameter of a large circle - drawn so that it passes through the centers of the three original circles - to the diameter of one of the original circles is close to 4:33. How could man claim to make such accurate patterns all over the world use the same dimensions? If one has to bend cereals like maize fields or such then one would encounter the problem of the maize breaking. But in many crop circles the stalks are bent actually “Stalks…are very often bent up to ninety degrees without being broken, particularly at the nodes, which are like the joints of wheat stems”5. And they don’t break. Something more than human effort has to be involved to make nodes to be extended for the inside out and made the bends to have electric charge5.

This leads me to a conclusion: Though some of the crop circles have been a hoax some have not been a hoax. So how do I explain such a phenomenon? The fitting argument after going through the internet is plasma. Plasma is highly electrified air carrying an electric charge which when it travels through a magnetic field (like the geomagnetic existing on the planet) 5 it moves in a spiral and produces microwaves. Plasma can be caused by lightening which produces high energy plasma5, 6. It can also come from the ionosphere (atmosphere that is ionized by solar radiation). It plays an important part in atmospheric electricity formation and thus the magnetosphere7. The spiralling is the one that causes the circles to form in a particular manner and the microwaves heats the stalks after which they bend. The soil in the area of crop circle occurrence when touched with a magnet it gets attached this also happens to the stocks that are within the crop circle area7. When these spirals of plasma are moving they form well distinct patterns which no hand on man can make. How are they directed to make such beautiful structures? I will speak like a good believer in God. God made them to beautify our world.

References:

1.Wikipedia contributors. Crop circle [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 10, 18:25 UTC [cited 2006 May 10]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Crop_circle&oldid=52526750.

2. Wikipedia contributors. Mowing-Devil [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 5, 16:22 UTC [cited 2006 May 10]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mowing-Devil&oldid=51697808.

3. Ivars Peterson Euclid's Crop Circles; February 1st, 1992 Science News
Vol. 141
4. Wikipedia contributors. Piltdown Man [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 4, 05:18 UTC [cited 2006 May 10]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Piltdown_Man&oldid=51482854.
5. Burke, J. A. The physics of crop formations MUFON UFO Journal October 1998.
6. Wikipedia contributors. Plasma (physics) [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 9, 02:37 UTC [cited 2006 May 10]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Plasma_%28physics%29&oldid=52252638.7. Wikipedia contributors. Ionosphere [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 Apr 26, 03:39 UTC [cited 2006 May 10]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ionosphere&oldid=50200652



VINCENT MUCHAI WAIRIMU
Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17 Bellville

TEL: +27825103190

Email: 2648463@uwc.ac.za

Website:http://www.muchai.iblog.co.za