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No. 73: Jan-Feb 1991

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Crop Circle Corner

The Wiltshire crop 'scroll'
The Wiltshire crop "scroll". Dimensions in meters.
Every week, it seems, some new facet of the crop circle phenomenon appears. It is reminiscent of the early days of UFOs. Several books have appeared. A periodical, The Cereologist, now promises to keep everyone up-to-date. People are scouring the old literature and pouring over aerial photos for pre-1980 examples. Theories abound, especially those invoking extraterrestrials!

We have room here for only a few brief items.

Scorched earth in Xenia, Ohio. A hired hand of Gene Eck was harvesting a field of soybeans when he came upon a circle of flattened plants -- bent but not broken -- some 80 feet in diameter. Inside this circle was a 40-foot-diameter ring of burnt stubble. Within the ring was a patch of undisturbed foxtail 14 feet in diameter. The soybean circle was a half mile from the nearest road; no tracks led into it. (Williams, Nat; Illinois Agri-News, November 9, 1990. Cr. R.A. Ford)

Column of light in Wiltshire. During the summer of 1990, teams of English ob servers scanned the cereal fields at night. At 2:30 AM, on July 25, R. Fla-herty, an experienced wildlife photographer, saw a single shaft of light descending from high in the sky toward a Wiltshire wheat field. Flaherty's view of the field itself was cut off by a ridge, so he could provide no further data. When morning came, as you probably surmised, the field displayed flattened wheat -- not the run-of-the-mill circles, but a scroll of sorts and even a triangle with rounded corners. (Meaden, G.T.; "The Beckhampton 'Scroll-Type' Circles, the Beckhampton 'Triangle,' and Strange Attractors," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 15:317, 1990.)

Comment. Could the English column of light have been created by the same force that made the Ohio burnt circle?

The Wiltshire crop 'triangle' nearby
The "triangle" nearby. The sides are 10-11 meters long.
Des Ronds dans le Ble. Yes, the French are chasing crop circles, too. In fact, a team of 8 French observers (designated VECA 90) spent the summer of 1990 in England. After watching by night without success, reviewing the English data, they finally discovered the secret ("ils ont finalement decouvert le pot aux roses"). The crop circles and all the elaborate designs are man-made! In fact the French team demonstrated how one could quickly make circles and more complex designs with a garden roller. Case closed!? (Pinvidic, Thierry; "L'Histoire Folle des Ronds dans le Ble," Science et Vie, no 878, p. 28, November 1990. Cr. C. Mauge.)

Comment. That all crop circles are manmade is debatable, certainly many are, and one can make a case for a meteor ological origin for the simpler geometries. One English contact states firmly that a review of old aerial photographs found no complex patterns at all. But who knows what next week's mail will bring?

From Science Frontiers #73, JAN-FEB 1991. � 1991-2000 William R. Corliss