From supernatural conspiracies to Led Zeppelin album covers, crop circles have created entertainment, discussion, and endless speculation for decades. But what are crop circles? Crop circles are interesting patterns and designs in large crop fields, usually those containing cereal grains.
The creation and existence of crop circles have not been fully explained. Unlike phenomena such as aliens, Bigfoot, and chupacabras, the existence of crop circles cannot be denied. They appear in plain sight for extended periods of time and have been regularly photographed, so there's no question as to whether or not crop circles are real. The only question is: where do crop circles come from?
Not much scientific research has been performed on these rare patterns, so it's still a little mysterious as to how they appear. However, plenty of fascinating observations have been gathered over the years about these unique formations. This list contains 15 facts about crop circles, from where they appear to how they might occur and the strange coincidences surrounding them.
Matthew Williams of Wiltshire, England, is the only person in Britain who has ever been prosecuted for creating a crop circle (the charge was damaging private property). However, Williams is far from the only person who has claimed credit for creating what many believe are supernatural formations.
Williams's prosecution potentially explains much of the mystery surrounding crop circle. While many theorists point to the lack of known crop circle artists as proof that crop circles are a supernatural phenomenon, Williams notes that the creators often choose anonymity to avoid getting into legal trouble. In an interesting twist, Williams actually recorded himself creating the crop circle that he was prosecuted for, just to prove that humans, not aliens, were responsible for these designs. That can't have made the conspiracy theorists very happy!
While crop circles have been growing in popularity in modern times, the history of these formations is many centuries old. The earliest known example of a crop circle comes from a pamphlet titled "The Mowing-Devil", which was published in 1678. A few other pieces of literature from the 17th century also depict crop circles.
While the legitimacy of "The Mowing-Devil" is unknown, as is the cause of the described crop circles, it's fun to know that these crop patterns have existed for hundreds of years, either as folklore or actual formations. Plus, the long history of crop circles is one thing that both scientists and theorists can agree on!
One of the coolest aspects of crop circles is that they are usually highly unique formations. Many crop circles depict sacred symbols from various religions and cultures. Other formations are in the shape of important geometric symbols, such as the flower of life, said to represent the way that all life is interconnected.
The important imagery of crop circles is used as evidence for both theorists and scientists alike. Theorists believe that it points to extraterrestrial or higher powers at work, while scientists believe that it is in line with how an artist operates.
It's a common misconception that crop circle patterns are created by breaking or completely flattening the crop. In reality, the stalks are bent at the node, which is essentially the knuckle of the plant. By bending the stalks at the node, the stalks reflect light differently, which allows the pattern in the crop circle to be highly visible. Many theorists claim that the stalks cannot be bent with this level of precision using a stomping board, which is the tool commonly associated with creating crop circles.
One common theory related to these bent stalks is that they are created when radiation converts the water in the stalk into steam, at which point it breaks through the node and causes the stalk to bend. There have been a few studies conducted on the effect of microwave radiation on wheat stalks - the most well-known was run by biophysicist W.C Levengood - but no definitive conclusions have been drawn.