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No. 67: Jan-Feb 1990

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Eyewitness Account Of Cropcircle Formation

UFO enthusiasts have had a field-day speculating that nighttime landings of alien craft have created the famous crop circles. Now, a good daytime description of actual crop-circle formation is at hand. Even so, the whole business still sounds pretty mysterious. The source is a letter to G.T. Meaden, Editor of the Journal of Meteorology, U.K., from R.A. Barnes.

"I have been meaning to write to you for some time on the subject of corn circles. About six or seven years ago I was fortunate to see one of these form in a field at Westbury. It happened on a Saturday in early July just before six in the evening after a thunderstorm earlier that afternoon; in fact it was still raining slightly.

"My attention was first drawn to a 'wave' coming through the heads of the cereal crop in a straight line at steady speed; I have since worked this out to be about fifty miles per hour.

"The agency, though invisible, behaved like a solid object throughout and did not show any fluid tendencies, i.e. no variation in speed, line or strength. There was no visual aberration either in front, above or below the advancing line.

"After crossing the field on a shallow arc the 'line' dropped to a position about 1 o'clock and radially described a circle 75 ft radius in about 4 seconds. The agency then disappeared."

Meaden, a champion of the plasma-vortex theory, believes that the observation reported by Barnes is consistent with this theory. During a later interview, Barnes stated that a hissing noise accompanied the phenomenon. This, thinks Meaden, could be due to electrical discharges within the plasma cloud.

(Meaden, G.T.; "Circle Formation in a Wiltshire Cereal-Crop -- an Eye-Witness Account and Analysis of a Circles-Effect Event at Westbury," Journal of Meteor ology, U.K., 14:265, 1989.)

Comment. Still at issue are the formation of a large, swirling mass of ionized air, its mysterious motion, the precision of the circles, and the diverse, almost too-neat geometrical patterns.

From Science Frontiers #67, JAN-FEB 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987