On 10 August 1990, a detailed Sri Yantra mandala appeared in the sand of a dry lake bed in an isolated part of southeastern Oregon. The exact location was under a well-patrolled Air National Guard training air corridor.
The pilot who first spotted it, Lt. Bill Miller, said no pilots had reported a design-in-the-making. In news interviews with the Associated Press and the Oregonian, Miller said the formation had simply "appeared."
What is one to make of these suddenly appearing formations? (You need RealVideo for this link.) What have scientists who study the phenomenon learned? How do they analyze the evidence?
Dr. Colin Andrews, an English scientist whose work is funded by Laurance Rockefeller and his Rockefeller Institute, believes that the elaborate crop circles (or about 80% of the sites around the world) are the work of hoaxers. That leaves 20% of the sites which, in his opinion, are naturally occurring. (You need RealAudio for this link.)
Dr. Andrews thinks a "mysterious shift" of about three degrees in the earth’s electro-magnetic field creates an electrical current that "electrocutes" the crops, forcing them to lie down in the non-elaborate patterns we see in crop fields.
A BBC crew, for example, had difficulty recording within a crop circle some years ago. Scientists who accept the magnetic field theory point to such recording problems as evidence that the theory is correct.
According to George Bishop of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies in the UK:
If the circles are formed by electromagnetic eddies, there may be a residual charge of energy.
The theory of a magnetic field shift, however, "doesn’t explain why often the nodes of the plants have swollen up to 200 times the original size." Bishop thinks the currents are working in tandem with other environmental factors, "possibly conducted via water in the air, such as mist, or in underground water tables."
According to Bishop, more than 90% of the crop circles in the UK "appear along the aquifer line (a layer of rock able to hold water) which runs from Dorset to Norfolk."
Other scientists have come up with different explanations for naturally occurring crop circles. While some of their concepts may at first seem far-fetched, pictorial evidence makes even a skeptical observer think twice.
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