Physics could be behind the secrets of crop-circle artists

Aug 01, 2011

In this month's edition of Physics World, Richard Taylor, director of the Materials Science Institute at the University of Oregon, takes a serious, objective look at a topic that critics might claim is beyond scientific understanding – crop circles.

As the global crop-circle phenomenon grows alongside advances in science and technology, Taylor notes how physics and the arts are coming together to produce more impressive and spectacular crop-circle patterns that still manage to maintain their mystery.

Today's crop-circle designs are more complex than ever, with some featuring up to 2000 different shapes. Mathematical analysis has revealed the use of constructions lines, invisible to the eye, that are used to design the patterns, although exactly how crop circles are created remains an open question.

According to Taylor, could potentially hold the answer, with crop-circle artists possibly using the Global Positioning System (GPS) as well as lasers and microwaves to create their patterns, dispensing with the rope, planks of wood and bar stools that have traditionally been used.

Microwaves, Taylor suggests, could be used to make crop stalks fall over and cool in a horizontal position – a technique that could explain the speed and efficiency of the artists and the incredible detail that some crop circles exhibit.

Indeed, one research team claims to be able to reproduce the intricate damage inflicted on crops using a handheld magnetron, readily available from microwave ovens, and a 12 V battery.

As Taylor writes, "Crop-circle artists are not going to give up their secrets easily. This summer, unknown will venture into the countryside close to your homes and carry out their craft, safe in the knowledge that they are continuing the legacy of the most science-oriented art movement in history."

Matin Durrani, Editor of , says, "It may seem odd for a physicist such as Taylor to be studying crop circles, but then he is merely trying to act like any good scientist – examining the evidence for the design and construction of crop circles without getting carried away by the side-show of UFOs, hoaxes and aliens."

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User comments : 16

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alfie_null
2.8 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2011
Regarding the people involved in crop circle creation: I wonder if anyone has looked in to correlating logs from nearby cell phone towers?
iPan
3.1 / 5 (7) Aug 01, 2011
Ok, first off, this article is way behind what we already knew.

Second, if you stop for a moment and think about the resources necessary to pull these things off with microwaves/lasers with the frequency and speed that they appear, the first thing you should realize is that the casual hobbyist can't do it.

That leaves only 2 possible explanations: military/coroporate, or aliens.

I favor the military/corporate explanation (I include corporate to imply that only an entity with the money can do this).

There's a high probability that crop circles are the test firings of experimental space based weapons.
hyongx
3.3 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2011
That leaves only 2 possible explanations: military/coroporate, or aliens.


Okay, here I believe you are mistaken. You are obviously forgetting the underground stronghold of the psychically linked hive-mind of telekenetic genetically engineered mutant people that are grown and controlled by the illuminati.

Obviously, they practice their arts on crops, in training for the invasion to come.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2011
safe in the knowledge that they are continuing the legacy of the most science-oriented art movement in history

Crop circles are related to science exactly how? I mean: wooden stakes and wooden plateau shoes aren't exactly high-tech. If that is 'science oriented art' then by that standard graffiti must be magic.

("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" --Arthur C. Clarke)

Using Microwave gizmos, GPS and whatnot is SLOWER and LESS accurate than putting down a stake, attaching a rope and walking around it with wooden planks under your feet.
HeloMenelo
1.3 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2011
Don't they have any past satellite images catching these guys in action, how about a bit of drone surveillance in suspected areas ?
david_42
2 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2011
You missed the documentary on the people behind the whole crop circle joke. One of them was employed by the very organization that was investigating them. Every time a report on the "causes" came out, the group was able to immediately make new patterns that violated the report's conclusions.
FainAvis
2 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2011
Its an intelligent bacteria attempting long distance communication. You should take them seriously.
Isaacsname
3 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
Its an intelligent bacteria attempting long distance communication. You should take them seriously.


All your crops are belong to us.
Fionn_MacTool
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
Ok, lets be objective. Two things to remember.

Firstly, fire/lights in fields and strange flattening of crops has been been reported as far back as 1678 (see pamphlet on the "Mowing-Devil").

Secondly, for this to be purely a hoax, we have to assume that there are at this stage a large team of humans, travelling much of the world, spending a significant amount of their time creating crop circles (which range from very simple circles to complex geometric patterns) for no other reason than to hoax the world into believing in *insert belief*. And they began this (if we are to believe the mowing devil pamphlet, back in the 17 century at least).

Now, it is good for Richard Taylor to come forward and finally address the growing evidence that microwaves are the physical phenomena responsible for many crop circles, but lets not get carried away with his assumptions as to the cause behind these phenomena. He again is falling back to the "team of dedicated tricksters roaming the world theory"
Fionn_MacTool
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
I favor the military/corporate explanation (I include corporate to imply that only an entity with the money can do this).


Whoops, should have read this before I posted my own comment. Yes, there may be a military element all right. Personally I think it hass something to do with facilities like HAARP in the US, which is a facility for projecting large amounts of microwave energy into the ionosphere.

I would go further though and say there is also a link here to the earths magnetic field. Perhaps originally these types of energies could only be produced by solar activity. Perhaps why ancient farmers built sites where solar energy was more likely to cause visible effects on earth (i.e. sites like newgrange).

Of course, this is all speculation, and makes the bold assumption that our ancestors also spent considerable time and effort constructing things in the pursuit of knowledge about our physical world...and we all know they were too stupid to do that ;)
Scorpious64
not rated yet Aug 02, 2011
Taylor has done nothing to solve this mystery except offer some vague explanation. They're using "GPS Monitors" as well as "lasers" and "microwaves" to create the crop circles? Oh, really? What Taylor does not explain is anything beyond this! Taylor, how are they using GPS monitors? How and with what devices are they using lasers and microwaves? Is it from satellites, helicopters? You explain nothing!! Just offer some vague explanation. I would expect much more from a person with a Ph.D.............

I bought books on this subject matter back in the 80's and 90's long before we had GPS satellites. So I'm not sure how Taylor would explain that.
maxcypher
not rated yet Aug 06, 2011
OK, if crop circles are some kind of communication from so-called 'aliens', what are they saying? Do a linguistic (crypto?) analysis to determine whether this is actually a language or some random, artistic attempts. If it's the former, then the author's identity should reveal itself and if it's the latter, well then, enjoy the show.
Moebius
3 / 5 (3) Aug 06, 2011
Ok, first off, this article is way behind what we already knew.

Second, if you stop for a moment and think about the resources necessary to pull these things off with microwaves/lasers with the frequency and speed that they appear, the first thing you should realize is that the casual hobbyist can't do it.

That leaves only 2 possible explanations: military/coroporate, or aliens.

I favor the military/corporate explanation (I include corporate to imply that only an entity with the money can do this).

There's a high probability that crop circles are the test firings of experimental space based weapons.


LOL Are you serious? Well, at least you got it right in the first sentence. We already know people are doing it, not the military or corporations. ANY other explanation makes no sense whatsoever except to uneducated wackos.
Fionn_MacTool
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2011
"We already know people are doing it, not the military or corporations."

Both the military and corporations are run by people, so not sure what that is supposed to mean.

"ANY other explanation makes no sense whatsoever"

Firstly, you should familiarise yourself with the scientific method. I assume though by your tone that you subscribe to the "team of dedicated tricksters roaming the world" theory.

Matin Durrani, Editor of Physics World, even says in this article "he is merely trying to act like any good scientist examining the evidence for the design and construction of crop circles without getting carried away by the side-show of UFOs, hoaxes and aliens."

Without getting carried away by the side-show of HOAXES. I suppose though, the editor is just another one of those uneducated wackos.

A quick question though, have they been using microwaves since the beginning of crop circle reports or is this a new phenomena in your opinion?
Moebius
3 / 5 (3) Aug 09, 2011
I mean it isn't the military, it isn't aliens, it isn't freaky physics, it isn't one group of tricksters or any other convoluted theory. I know the scientific method. Have you heard of Occam's Razor? The simplest (and correct) explanation is that it is regular people sneaking out at night and making them, ALL of them. There isn't a single shred of credible evidence otherwise.
Fionn_MacTool
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2011
Certainly, and if it was the case that "regular people sneaking out at night and making them, ALL of them" was the simplest answer, I would have to agree with you.

One thing I noticed about your response. You appear to be ignoring the scientific evidence of microwaves as a cause, or as you call it "freaky physics". Is this perhaps why you totally ignored the one question I asked you? This is documented, observable evidence that Taylor, as a good scientist, is now trying to address (and even gives his own theory about its cause!). Either you are consciously ignoring this evidence or you simple cannot absorb it because it makes your current theory less simple.

So I ask again, did it always involve the use of microwaves or is this a modern phenomena? Why do you think they switched from using planks and ropes to microwaves? I am expecting a simple explanation that fits in with the theory of dedicated pranksters, as they are getting kind of technical for their pointless activity.