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No. 72: Nov-Dec 1990

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Crop circle update: what are "they" trying to tell us?

Several hundred crop circles have afflicted English farmers' fields already this year. The English newspapers haven't neglected them, but where are Nature and Science? Here is a genuine mystery, and most scientists don't dare touch it for fear of being labelled "kooks." Well, we do have one item from New Scientist, but we'll have to rely upon the newspapers for this evermore-bizarre phenomenon.

Australia now a target.

"Dozens of flattened rings of wheat have been reported recently in Australia over a wide area of arable country in northwestern Victoria. The rings resemble the corn circles found in southern Britain.

"Max and Nancee Jolly, farmers at Turiff West, found 12 rings in their wheat crop. Each ring was 12 metres across and rock-hard in the middle. 'The wheat in the rings was bent over at the base but not damaged in any other way.' said Nancee Jolly."

The Australian Sceptics suspect pranksters. (Anonymous; "More Circles," New Scientist, p. 23, August 11, 1990.)

An article in a Perth newspaper puts the number of wheat circles in Victoria at 400, as of July 9. That's a lot of work for hoaxers! It is also said that the soil in the rings is "magnetically altered," whatever that means. (Anonymous; "Outback Martian Rings Riddle," Perth Daily News, July 9, 1990. Cr. P. Norman via L. Farish)

Plasma vortex picked up by radar.

"Japanese and British meteorologists are investigating a link between a fastmoving object crossing the Pacific and the mysterious appearance of crop circles in English fields.

"A ship from Tokyo University's Ocean Research Institute was in the Pacific when its radar equipment located a large object travelling more than four times the speed of sound. The radar discounted it as an aircraft because of its size, 400 metres across, and it sped northwards.

"The Japanese scientists identified the object as a plasma vortex, caused by freak weather. The phenomenon is similar to ball lightning and believed to be generated by 'mini-tornadoes' of electrically-charged air.

"Plasma vortices can be luminous at night. 'They are often mistaken for UFOs,' says Dr Terence Meaden, director of the Oxford-based Tornado and Storm Research Organization."

(Spicer, Andi; "Clue to mystery of Circles," London Observer, May 20, 1990. Cr. T. Good via L. Farish)

Alien Hieroglyphics?

"The extraordinary variety of circle formations and multiple-ringed circles is quite unlike what one would expect for a natural phenomenon, such as an atmospheric vortex. The complexity has increased through the 1980s, and this year it has developed at a startling pace.

"In May there began to appear what researchers call pictograms. Initially these consisted of two circles joined by a straight channel of flattened corn, with extra features such as rectangles or semicircular rings. There have now been about 20 of these. The latest have quadrupled the length to about 150 yards and consist of complex arrangements of up to nine plain or ringed circles with new features, like 'keys,' which can be seen in photographs of the Alton Barnes pictogram. Nothing like this was observed in previous years."

(Wingfield, George; "Ever-Increasing Circles of Bewilderment," London Independent, August 4, 1990. Cr. T. Good via L. Farish)

Comments. Wingfield believes that the circles are symbols left by a non-human intelligence.

Having failed to establish communication with us via UFOs, marine lightwheels, cookie-cutter holes, and other phenomena, "they" are now trying crop circles! But, less flippantly, once hoaxes have been winnowed out, we may have an important phenomenon here.

From Science Frontiers #72, NOV-DEC 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "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