Dutch Hope to Recreate Global
Crop Circles Remotely

[Original headline: Great Balls of Light]

Aliens are like moody flatmates. They're always leaving subtle messages in the most unlikely places. You're turn to buy bread. Wash the dishes. Take me to your leader. You know the sort of thing. Either that or there are a lot of very shy, insomniac artists out there who prefer planks of wood and garden rollers to paintbrushes and paint. How else can you explain crop circles?

Every year in The Netherlands anywhere between 20 and 100 patches of flattened wheat appear mysteriously in fields with thousands more reported world-wide. Making farmers very tetchy. But new research, recently reported in the science journal, Physiologia Plantarum, might help to clear a few things up. With heavy stress on that word might.

Earth, Wind and ... Light Dr Eltjo Haselhoff is the author of the piece, a physicist and member of the Dutch Centre for Crop Circle Studies (DCCCS), who looks into this flat grass phenomenon in his spare time. He's developed his theory after sampling many of the affected fields and talking to the few eyewitnesses brave (for want of a better word) enough to admit to having seen a crop circle created.


There aren't many eyewitness accounts", admits Dr Haselhoff, "but that's not surprising. Most people feel very uncomfortable telling these stories. But according to them there are two components involved when a crop circle is made and those are a ball of light floating through the air and a tremendous sort of whirlwind which seems to do the flattening. They also say that it only takes seconds to produce the formation."

Guys in Heavy Boots
Sounds quite incredible and it would be a very neat trick for the bunch of drunken students who usually get the blame. But aliens? "It's possible that they are all man-made", says Dr Haselhoff, rather disappointingly. "It's the most logical explanation but it doesn't answer all the questions. I am convinced that many of the formations I have visited were not man-made in the sense that they weren't flattened by mechanical means, using planks and ropes and pushing down the crops."

Fellow researcher, Robert Boerman, also agrees that they can't all be made by a gang of guys in heavy boots. "There is rock hard scientific evidence to prove that a lot of the circles are not man-made – 100% sure.

Remote Controlled Circles
Robert hopes to be able to reproduce the technology and make his very own crop circle – without getting his feet dirty. "I have a theory and looking at the evidence I think - I hope - that we can create a crop circle of our own in the very near future. With the right equipment we will be able to create a circle in England, Canada or the US from home, here in The Netherlands. We don't know who is creating them now but if we can create our own crop circle then we can understand how it works."


"In several of the crop circles that have been investigated we've found physical anomalies in the plants, which correspond perfectly with the hypothesis that the crop is heated by a small spherical heat source which is this ball of light. It's an effect which makes part of the stems of the plants expand, very similar to the mercury in a thermometer, if it's warm it expands and gets longer. This expansion of the stems is much stronger in the centre but decreases gradually towards the edge of the circle. It matches perfectly the distribution of, for example, the light from a bulb in a dark room. Right beneath the light bulb the light is very strong but towards the edges of the room it gets darker. And this distribution, which is very well known, matches perfectly the measurements we've found in the field on several occasions."

Which sounds great. Except if you're a farmer perhaps. But wait a minute, never mind them, we've still go to eat the stuff. And what about the mysterious balls of light? They can't be good, can they? In fact, all stompers and aliens aside, Dr Haselhoff thinks it's a serious issue to raise.

Serious Concern
"We need to perform more solid research. It's too easy to say it's all man-made. We have demonstrated biological changes to the crops (see box) and radioactivity has even been discovered. We don't know what's going on but nevertheless these modified crops enter our food chain because the farmers just harvest the crops like all the rest. Nobody really knows what's going on and that's a frightening thought sometimes. Just think about that the next time you eat a slice of bread."

Well, at least you've got a good excuse for not buying that loaf the next time your flatmate gets moody. Personally, I don't know if the balls of light theory is a step forward or not. It's certainly no clearer in my mind. If it really is aliens trying to send us some sort of message, then sorry guys, but we're really not that bright. Circles in the grass are about as obvious as a vacuum cleaner left in the hallway.

• Story originally published by:
Radio Nederland / Holland | Jim Dempsey - Aug 17.01

  • On the Web:
    Dutch Centre for Crop Circle Studies
    Dr Eltjo Haselhoff´s site
    Dutch Crop Circle Archive





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