the recent release of the movie 'Signs,' crop circles have been thrust
into the limelight. Such major publications as Scientific American and
U.S. News and World Report have echoed the common belief that all crop
circles are made by stealthy humans flattening plants with boards. This
assumption would be fair enough if we had no information suggesting
However, intriguing data published in peer-reviewed
scientific journals clearly establishes that some of these geometric
designs, found in dozens of countries, are not made by "pranks with
planks." In fact, a study about to be published by a team of
scientists and funded by Laurance Rockefeller concludes "it is
possible that we are observing the effects of a new or as yet
undiscovered energy source."
the early 1990s, biophysicist William C. Levengood, of the Pinelandia
Biophysical Laboratory, in Michigan, examined plants and soils from 250
crop formations, randomly selected from seven countries. Samples and
controls were provided by the Massachusetts-based BLT Research Team,
directed by Nancy Talbott.
Levengood, who has published over 50 papers
in scientific journals, documented numerous changes in the plants from
the formations. Most dramatic were grossly elongated plant nodes (the
"knuckles" along the stem) and "expulsion cavities"
-- holes literally blown open at the nodes -- caused by the heating of
internal moisture from exposure to intense bursts of radiation. The
steam inside the stems escaped by either stretching the nodes or, in
less elastic tissue, exploding out like a potato bursting open in a
taken from the plants and germinated in the lab showed significant
alterations in growth, as compared with controls. Effects varied from an
inability to develop seeds to a massive increase in growth rate --
depending on the species, the age of the plants when the circle was
created and the intensity of the energy system involved. These anomalies
were also found in tufts of standing plants inside crop circles --
clearly not a result of mechanical flattening -- and in patches of
randomly downed crops found near the geometric designs. These facts
suggested some kind of natural, but unknown, force at work.
Published in Physiologia Plantarum (1994), the international journal of the European
Societies of Plant Physiology, Levengood's data showed that "plants
from crop circles display anatomical alterations which cannot be
explained by assuming the formations are hoaxes." He defined a
"genuine" formation as one "produced by external energy
forces independent of human influence."
strange brown "glaze" covering plants within a British
formation was the subject of Levengood and John A. Burke's 1995 paper in
the Journal of Scientific Exploration. The material was a pure iron that
had been embedded in the plants while the iron was still molten. Tiny
iron spheres were also found in the soil.
In 1999, British investigator
Ronald Ashby examined the glaze through optical and scanning electron
microscopes. He determined that intense heat had been involved -- iron
melts at about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit -- administered in millisecond
bursts. "After exhaustive inquiry, there is no mundane explanation
for the glaze" he concluded.
In another paper for Physiologia
Plantarum (1999), Levengood and Talbott suggested that the energy
causing crop circles could be an atmospheric plasma vortex -- multiple
interacting electrified air masses that emit microwaves as they spiral
around the earth's magnetic-field lines. Some formations, however,
contain cubes and straight lines.
Bernard Haisch, of the California Institute for Physics and
Astrophysics, says that such "highly organized, intelligent
patterns are not something that could be created by a force of
nature." But Haisch points out that since not all formations are
tested, it is unknown how many are genuine. Nor is it likely that such
complex designs could evolve so quickly in nature. "Natural
phenomena make mountain ranges and form continents -- they don't learn
geometry in ten years," says Haisch, who is the science editor for
the Astrophysical Journal.
In 1999, philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller
made possible the most definitive -- and most revealing -- study to
date. The BLT Research Team collected hundreds of plant and soil samples
from a seven-circle barley formation in Edmonton, Canada. The plants had
both elongated nodes and expulsion cavities, and the soils contained the
peculiar iron spheres, indicating a genuine formation. The controls
showed none of these changes.
Sampath Iyengar, of the Technology of Materials Laboratory, in
California, examined specific heat-sensitive clay minerals in these
soils, using X-ray diffraction and a scanning electron microscope. He
discovered an increase in the degree of crystallinity (the ordering of
atoms) in the circle minerals, which statistician Ravi Raghavan
determined was statistically significant at the 95 percent level of
confidence. "I was shocked," says Iyengar, a 30-year
specialist in clay mineralogy. "These changes are normally found in
sediments buried for thousands and thousands of years under rocks,
affected by heat and pressure, and not in surface soils."
astounding was the direct correlation between the node-length increases
in the plants and the increased crystallization in the soil minerals --
indicating a common energy source for both effects. Yet the scientists
could not explain how this would be possible. The temperature required
to alter soil crystallinity would be between 1,500 and 1,800 degrees F.
This would destroy the plants.
the possible ramifications of these findings, Talbott sought the
expertise of an emeritus professor of geology and mineralogy at
Dartmouth College, Robert C. Reynolds Jr., who is former president of
the Clay Minerals Society. He is regarded by his colleagues as the
"best-known expert in the world" on X-ray diffraction analysis
of clay minerals. Reynolds determined that the BLT Team's data had been
"obtained by competent personnel, using current equipment."
The intense heat required for the observed changes in crystallinity
"would have incinerated any plant material present," he
confirms in a statement for the Rockefeller report. "In short, I
believe that our present knowledge provides no explanation."
Meteorologist James W. Deardorff, professor emeritus at the College of
Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, and
previously a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric
Research, states in a 2001 Physiologia Plantarum commentary that the
variety, complexity and artistry of crop circles "represent the
work of intelligence," and not a plasma vortex. "That is why
the hoax hypothesis has been popularly advocated," he says.
However, he points out, the anomalous properties in plant stems
thoroughly documented by Levengood and Talbott could not possibly have
been implemented by hoaxers. Deardorff describes one 1986 British
formation in which upper and lower layers of crop were intricately
swirled and bent perpendicular to each other, in a fashion that
"defies any explanation."
don't want to face up to this, and scientists have to deal with the
ridicule factor," he said in a recent interview. Adding to the
puzzle, professional filmmakers have documented bizarre daytime
"balls of light" at crop-circle sites.
Light phenomena were
observed by multiple witnesses at the site of the Canadian circle so
meticulously examined under the Rockefeller grant. Eltjo Hasselhoff, a
Dutch experimental physicist, has taken on the study of what he
describes as "bright, fluorescent flying light objects, about the
size of a baseball. "Scientists face real and serious questions in
confronting this mystery.
Could this be secret laser technology beamed
down from satellites? Is it a natural phenomenon? Is there a
consciousness or intelligence directing an energy form yet unknown to
us? "To look at the evidence and go away unconvinced is one
thing," says astrophysicist Haisch. "To not look at the
evidence and be convinced against it .. is another. That is not
science." It's not good journalism, either.