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Readers' comments

This is unabashed "fan mail". The quality of your scholarship is dazzling! Brilliant, heroic work! Thank you so much for your wonderful new book about crop circles. It is REQUIRED READING by every social participant who is still in denial. Dyson Devine, Australia. Website: "


Excerpt (with footnotes and some diagrams removed) from pp.18-23 "THE DEEPENING COMPLEXITY OF CROP CIRCLES - Scientific Research & Urban Legend" by Eltjo H Haselhoff, Ph.D. Copyright 2001 Published by Frog Ltd.


Germination Anomalies

Another interesting anomaly is seem with seeds collected from crop circles during seed germination trials. A germination trial is a standard test in biophysics, which determines the speed of seed germination and the growth rate of the young seedlings (a measure of seed quality). The seeds are put in special germination containers, and humidity, light, and temperature are carefully controlled. With each test, seeds collected from crop circles are compared to control seeds collected in the same field at the same time, but taken from the standing crop, far away from the imprints of the crop circles. Over 30 percent of many thousands of these tests revealed a most interesting biophysical anomaly. When a formation was formed in an immature crop, the seeds usually did not develop, or the growth of the seedlings was severely reduced. However, if a formation occurred in a more mature crop, the crap circle seeds seemed to be "energized," so that they grew at up to five times the normal rate.

At this paint you should be aware that seed germination and the growth of seedlings are not casual, but: well-known and well-documented processes. When humidity, temperature, light, and so on are known, there are well established normal values for seedling length during the germination time. A fivefold deviation from these normal values is extraordinary. Whatever effect is causing this, it should be of great interest to all of us. If we could understand this mechanism, we could improve the seeds, the stock for future generations, increase farm yields, and therefore feed a lot more people from the harvest of our crops.


Balls of Light

Through the years many people have claimed to have witnessed the formation of a crop circle. Colin Andrews talks about a total of around seventy eyewitnesses so far. A number of these people have been interviewed, and their stories can be seen and heard on some of the crop circle videos that have appeared. Many other cases have been carefully documented, in particular by Dr. Terence Meaden. According to these eyewitness reports, the crop is flattened by a sort of airstream. The eyewitnesses describe dust, sand, and other debris lifted up in the air in a rotating motion and falling back on top of the flattened crop in the crop circle, all in a matter of seconds. Dr. Meaden established several times that loose stems were lying on top of the flattened crop, in agreement with the eyewitnesses' statements. He also writes about "a large number of people" who all watched the formation of a crop circle together. "Suddenly the grass began to sway before our eyes and laid itself flat in a clockwise spiral, just like the opening of a lady's fan," according to these eyewitnesses. Lucy Pringle recently published several more eyewitness accounts, for example, the one by Gary and Vivienne Tomlinson:

"All at once the wind scooped us off the path into the cornfield. We took a great buffeting. It was very frightening, Looking down we saw a circle being formed around us. It only took a couple of seconds."

Sound effects during the formation of a crop circle have been reported often, and sometimes resemble the humming sound you can hear near high voltage electricity cables. Other times, a hissing sound was reported, or a high-pitched whistling like a set of panpipes.

Dr. Meaden also reported optical effects directly related to the formation of a crop circle. For example, around midnight of June 28, 1989, a big orange ball of light was seen descending into a wheat field in England. The witness saw the bottom go flat as it touched the ground and the crop, before disappearing after a single bounce, only a few seconds later. The next morning a ringed circle was found at the same spot. The Englishman Julian Richardson wrote on the Internet about a night time adventure in a crop field in I992:

"Suddenly my attention was drawn to a light that had appeared from nowhere. It was a few hundred yards away and directly in front of us. As soon as I had registered its presence I alerted my colleagues. Amazed, we stood there gazing at this football-sized orange light as it hung motionless, about forty feet above the surrounding countryside. After an estimated five seconds the light began to slowly descend. Within another five seconds it had descended about ten feet and had faded into invisibility."

Unidentified light objects have also been recorded on videotape several times, for example, by the Dutch researchers Foeke Kootje and Bert Janssen, the German von Dürckheim brothers, and the Englishman Steve Alexander. The latter, on July 26, I990, shot the famous fifteen-minute video recording of an anomalous light object floating over a field near Stanton St. Bernard, England. In the background, one can see a farmer on a tractor noticing the ball of light as well. In fact, this man was identified a few days later. Immediately upon arriving home, he told his family about his strange observation. Not surprisingly, he was taken for a fool, until a few days later Alexander came along with his videotape.

According to Dr. Meaden, these observations are not only limited to England, but have also been reported from France, Japan, Australia, and the United States. And I can add my native country, the Netherlands, to that list. In I996, I obtained a report from a sixteen-year-old boy named Robbert van den Broeke, who told me how he had witnessed the formation of a crop circle several times. When I discovered that his stories were similar to the statements of other eyewitnesses I had heard and read about, I obviously became interested, lust like many others, the boy also mentioned trembling air and crackling noises "as if you take off your sweater over your head," or, on another occasion, "as if you throw frozen French fries in hot oil." The creation of a crop circle, he says, occurred with one or multiple bouncing balls of light, spinning very rapidly through the crop "so that it almost resembled a fluorescent disk." Sometimes the balls had a white-bluish or white-pinkish color, or at other times more orange-like. According to the physical laws of electromagnetism, this could be an indication of varying temperature, while the trembling air around the balls could be the result of intense heat. After the formation is formed, in seconds, Robbert says, the light bails fade and disappear, "as if you switch off the television."

In 1998, Nancy Talbot (the "T" of the American research group BLT) visited the Netherlands during a lecture tour in Europe. She visited the western part of the province of Noord-Brabant, where each year many crop circles are reported, often accompanied by anomalous light phenomena. During a night watch, she was lucky enough to witness these anomalous lights, together with four other people. Soon after her extraordinary experience, she wrote her story on the Internet:

"The light display I witnessed ... was really quite incredible. A very strong physical sensation preceded the display, a tingling which moved up my body toward my head, reaching quite intense levels by the time it reached my neck (to the point where I was very seriously looking for the door), then abruptly ceasing and the light display beginning, many, many lights, some balls just hanging in the air, some driblets, some like flash-bulbs, huge blobs dropping down and hitting the patio floor, all aimed directly at the windows immediately behind which I and [ ... ] were sitting. The display would last for perhaps 30 seconds, then stop. Then 30 seconds to one minute would elapse and the tingling would start again, slowly rising up our bodies, reaching an intensity level at our necks which was close to uncomfortable, then, boom, it would stop and the light display would start again. This happened over an 11 minute period, from about 2 a.m. to 2:11 a.m., with somewhere between 5-7 of these light displays occurring."

Knowing Nancy to be an intelligent, sober, and critical person, I believe her story, no matter how fantastic it seems. One of the reasons for my faith is that I already possessed other evidence that in fact these curious light balls had manifested themselves in this particular neighborhood. One year earlier I had visited the same region, after similar reports of flying balls of light. I was told how the balls of light had hit the roof shingles of a house at a height of about four meters, leaving clear burn marks on the painted wood. A little birdbox hanging on the front wall had also been hit. After I took it down, I saw how its metal roof showed undeniable perfectly round burn marks, with a diameter of about one centimeter. The fact that the burn marks were concentrated along the sharp edges of the roof may indicate a possible electromagnetic character of the curious balls of light, as would be predicted by electromagnetic theory.

Apart from direct eyewitness accounts, sometimes there are also circumstantial indications that balls of light might indeed be associated with the creation of crop circles. Through the years I have noticed several times how a narrow track of flattened crop led from the formations to the edge of the field. Sometimes there have been two of these tracks, one with the flattened crop directed toward the crop formation and the other with the crop flattened in the opposite direction, as if a small "something" had moved from the edge of the field into the formation, and back afterwards, flattening the crop during· its course. These tracks were typically just a few centimeters wide (sometimes just a handful of stems), much narrower than the width of a human foot. The crop inside the tracks was neatly and accurately flattened, similar to the inside of the crop formation, unlike tracks left by people or animals. In the summer of 1998 a similar track was discovered near a circle in grass near the village of Hoeven in the Netherlands. The track led out of the crop circle, straight into a little adjacent canal. The tips of the grass stalks that made the track were bent and appeared dehydrated, not an unusual observation in crop circles. Interestingly, the stems were not flattened all the way down to the ground, but were rather bent halfway, so that the bottom of the track was still some twenty centimeters above the ground. This directly excluded a track made by a human or an animal. Perhaps this track was a leftover from a ball of light, flying out of the crop circle!

Excerpt (with footnotes and some diagrams removed) from pp.33-40 "THE DEEPENING COMPLEXITY OF CROP CIRCLES - Scientific Research & Urban Legend" by Eltjo H Haselhoff, Ph.D. Copyright 2001 Published by Frog Ltd.


Believers, Thinkers, and Deniers

It is my experience that people confronted with the crop circle phenomenon for the first time, can be divided into three different classes: those of the Believer, the Thinker, and the Denier. The Believer will immediately accept everything you say. He or she listens fascinated to your stories, is excited but also happy about the news, and will enthusiastically start telling friends about it right away. Thinkers are more difficult to convince. These are mature, rational, and intellectual people. They come up with critical questions, suggest alternative and trivial explanations, and demand references. Nevertheless, the Thinker is certainly interested, although he or she will refrain from giving an immediate opinion. The Denier, however, is very different, and comes in two flavors: the Evil Denier and the Laughing Denier. The Evil Denier may evolve into an aggressive creature, who sets a personal goal to attack all this "crop circle garbage" as often and as much as possible. Some Evil Deniers are a little milder and limit themselves to just some remarks, such as: "Do me a favor will you, and stop that nonsense, please don't be ridiculous." The Laughing Denier, however, is never aggressive. The Laughing Denier laughs. "Ho-ho-ho, do you really believe that?" would be his or her first reaction. The Laughing Denier has a patronizing attitude and implicitly pretends to understand things much better than you do. He or she thinks that by the time you grow up, you will understand it too. A typical remark of a Laughing Denier would be: "Sure, crop circles, I guess they are made by Martians. Hey, can't you telepathically call them and ask if they will make a circle or two in my front yard, then I don't have to mow the lawn so often, ho-ho-ho." A similarity between the Evil and the Laughing Denier is that neither is willing to listen to you, and no reasoning seems to be possible with them. Without doubt this is related to an explicit lack of interest.

Obviously, the scenario sketched here is somewhat black and white, and in daily practice many combinations and variants exist. I know people who reveal many characteristics of the Believer, the Thinker, as well as the Denier, all at the same time. Without exception they will always make a silly remark as a reaction to the things I tell them, but nevertheless they show up on a regular basis to hear the latest news, look at the latest aerial photographs, or even report a new formation. Believers and Deniers often have very clear opinions, despite lack of (detailed) knowledge. The arguments they use are often erroneous, speculative, or based on inaccuracies. Nevertheless, this does not stop most of them from being absolutely convinced of how they believe things are. It is obvious that emotions and "gut feeling" play an important role. Fortunately, the amount of reference literature about crop circles is increasing, as you can see from the listing at the end of the book. Nevertheless, it cakes a critical mind to distinguish the facts from the fiction.


The Crop Circle Expert

Many people that a crop circle expert is someone who can immediately distinguish a "real" crop circle (whatever it may be) from a man-made hoax. My opinion is that someone who judges the genuineness of a crop circle just by visual inspection is an amateur. Things are really not that simple, certainly not as long as we do not even know exactly what mechanism creates crop circles. Obviously, the experienced field researcher has developed an eye for indications of human activity, but since most of these could also be caused by the presence of early visitors, these observations can never be conclusive. Furthermore, the many so-called criteria that are in circulation, such as broken versus bent stems, a circular versus an elliptic circumference, the epicenter of the spiraling swirls concentric with the geometric center or off-center, and other "rules of thumb," are of little value. You don't need them anyway, because reliable conclusions can only be reached after extensive fieldwork and many hours of intensive laboratory work. If any anomalies or other interesting findings are found, it will probably take many more experiments with continuously adapted methods and careful reporting before we can come closer to the understanding of these observations. This is the process during which the researcher becomes an expert, and it is the only way to systematically unravel the crop circle mystery.


The Crop Circle Hoaxer

Anyone claiming that all crop circles can be easily the work of human pranksters, or hoaxers as they are usually called, reveals that he does not know what he is talking about. However, this does not mean that no crop circles have been made by people. In England, there are several teams of crop circle hoaxers who have practiced a lot and developed great skill in the creation of crop formations with the aid of relatively simple tools. Most of the hoaxes are made in grain fields, but rarely in maize, carrots, potatoes, mustard, spinach, tobacco, grass, snow, or any other type of vegetation in which crop formations have appeared. There are many ways to make a hoaxed crop circle, varying from simple hand- or foot-stomping, through methods with planks and ropes (the method used by the well-known, self-proclaimed British hoaxers Doug Bower and Dave Chorley), garden rollers, or rotating PVC pipes. I am confident that even very complicated examples of crop formations that have been found over the years, in principle, could have been man-made. That is, as long as closer studies have not revealed any counterindications.

Since in many cases a careful (bio-)physical analysis is not performed, it is important to always keep one's options open. A plea such as: "This pattern is so complex, it cannot not be man-made!" is extremely dangerous. Professor Vincent Icke, a Dutch astronomer, once said to me: "Unscrew the back cover of your television set and take a look inside; then you will say the same thing: This cannot be man-made!" And he is right, of course. People are capable of many things, and I sincerely believe that anyone with the right drive and a little experience in geometry can develop working methods that allow the creation of very complex, perfectly symmetric crop formations. Nonetheless, there are an abundance of curious characteristics that have been discovered in crop circles time after time, which have yet to be reproduced by men. Scientific research has shown germination anomalies, cellular anomalies, intricate and well-structured lengthening of the nodes (the "knuckles" in the stems of corn-rape plants), exploded nodes, burn marks, and even unnatural radioactivity, all of which cannot be the result of simple mechanical flattening. A crop circle is more than just a piece of flattened vegetation: It is accompanied by a considerable amount of unusual observations, far too many to simply dismiss the phenomenon as "caused by man," without further thinking.

Many people think that crop circle hoaxers are sober, rational persons, continuously leading the crop circle researchers (credulous and naive poor souls) by the nose. Skeptic articles in newspapers and magazines often create this image. In reality, however, crop circle hoaxers are often quite "esoteric." Many of them believe in a genuine crop circle phenomenon, and some are even convinced that they are an authentic part of it! They believe they are inspired by an unknown intelligence and perform their work in a sort of hypnotic state. The nonsober and nonrational approach of some crop circle hoaxers also becomes clear, for example, from the directions that are given on the "Make your own Circle" page I found on the Internet, ( where it is explained how a crop circle is made. The recommended equipment consists of, besides logical material such as measuring tape, ropes, planks or a heavy garden roller, also "dowsing rods--these should be made of copper, and purchased from an expensive new age shop, or, in an emergency, a couple of bent coat-hangers will do." Step two of the instructions reads:

"Dowse potential location to establish earth energies. If a formation is located on a powerful ley-line, this will satisfy later tests for genuineness, and aid in curative effects, healings, orgone accumulation, angelic visions, benign alien abduction experiences, and feelings of general well-being. WARNING-- If the formation is situated contra-directionally to the flow of energy, this may result in the opposite effects; headaches, nausea, temporary limb-paralysis, aching joints, mental illness, deadly-orgone-radiation (DOR) exposure, demonic visions, negative abduction scenarios (memory loss, implant scarring, sore or bleeding anil, navels, and genitals, etc.), and general disillusionment."

One of the members of a group with the macabre name Team Satan wrote on the Internet:

"I truly believe that the circles we put down are genuine, and act to catalyze a whole host of other paranormal experiences. How else can we account for the many reports of anomalies associated with crop circle sites, not only from those who come to view and research the phenomenon, but also from the very people who create the circles"

Here he refers to numerous accounts by crop circle hoaxers, who were confronted with curious light phenomena during their nightly circle-making adventures. In a press release they made at the end of the 1997 season, John Lundberg and Rod Dickinson wrote:

"Our crop formations are intended to function as temporary sacred sites in this landscape. Whilst constructing crop formations in the fields we have experienced series of aerial anomalies including small balls of light, columns of light and blinding flashes. All apparently targeting ourselves and our crop formations. We are not surprised by the numerous visitors who have reported a diverse assortment of anomalies associated with our artworks. These have included physiological effects, such as headaches and nausea, healing effects such as one report of a cure for acute osteoporosis, physical effects such as camera and other electronic equipment failure. We are certain that our artworks are subject to the attention of paranormal forces and act to catalyze other paranormal events."

The current number of active hoaxers can only be estimated. Colin Andrews recently stated in a press release that eighty percent of the British formations are man-made. If you want to find such an estimate, you would have to examine a considerable amount of the total number of formations with solid, identical, and reliable methods, based on solid statistics. Performing such a test is not a trivial thing. Levengood has found unexplained anomalies in ninety percent of his experiments, which cannot be explained as the effects of mechanical flattening. This is quite a different number than that mentioned by Andrews, although Levengood's findings do not have to indicate that ninety percent of all crop circles would show these anomalies. I tend to believe that the assumed involvement of crop circle hoaxers is much exaggerated, but that is just a combination of gut feeling and an "educated guess." And it does not really matter. As long as we do not yet understand the observed anomalies, we have other things to worry about.


The Crop Circle Debunker

A crop circle debunker does not believe there is anything unexplained about the crop circle phenomenon, is convinced that it can all be simply explained as the work of humans, and does not leave any opportunity unused to bring that news out in the open. So the debunker is not the same person as the hoaxer, although combinations do exist: debunkers who create crop circles themselves in order to support their point of view. The strategy in that case is usually as follows: A piece of crop is flattened, by ordinary means, and somehow it is arranged that crop circle "researchers" investigate this man-made creation and come up with statements about its genuineness. As soon as somebody declares the formation as "not made by men," the debunker reveals that the formation was in fact man-made, and then concludes that the crop circle phenomenon is just the work of humans and nothing more. This approach is completely ill-founded, and similar to showing an imitation pearl to some arbitrary people in the street. When one of them says that the pearl is real, you say this proves that, real pearls do not exist. Yet, amazingly, this approach has been used over and over again by news reporters. However, anyone can come forward with a statement about the genuineness (or lack thereof) of a crop circle, and in doing so will definitely reveal his or her qualities as a researcher. But how can such statements possibly be related to the authenticity of the crop circle phenomenon in its entirety! As always, the complexity of crop circles is much underestimated, and these attempts to reach conclusions without evidence can be dismissed.

Some have even spent serious amounts of money to prove that crop circles are just human pranks. In I998, the American television station NBC sponsored a costly project and had the well-known crop circle hoaxers John Lundberg, Rod Dickinson, and Wil Russell fly over to the southernmost tip of New Zealand to produce an elaborate hoax before running cameras. The formation looked good from an aerial photograph, but as you will understand by now, that is not the main issue. It is unfortunate that the formation was made secretly, almost as far away as possible from active crop circle researchers, while the pictogram was cut off the field almost immediately after it had been finished. No samples were taken for biophysical analysis, not a single established researcher was allowed to even inspect the lay of the crop. So what did they prove? Nothing. If anyone really feels the urge to prove that the most complex crop formations can be made by men in a single night, why does nobody accept the challenge to duplicate one of the best formations that have appeared earlier, such as the Milk Hill Koch fractal of 1997, or the I996 Windmill Hill formation? It could be a joint undertaking by crop circle researchers and crop circle hoaxers, performed in public, and it would be a most interesting project for everybody, independently of the outcome. It would also be the perfect scenario for an exciting and informative media show, so finances should not have to be a problem either. Moreover, if the project were performed in the fields of Hampshire or Wiltshire in England, you could save the costs of the plane tickets to New Zealand as well.

Debunkers often criticize research methods. Despite the many premature claims that have been made in the past by crop circle fanatics, this criticism is not always well founded. It is a normal course of matters, especially in the early stages of research on a new phenomenon, that certain research criteria are not well defined yet. The continuous adapting and improving of experimental methods is a normal process, which indicates progress and not failure. Of course, a critical approach, objectivity, and the honesty of the researcher remain essential. But sometimes the activities of debunkers can almost be considered sabotage. There was an unfortunate incident of sprinkling iron filings on the flattened stems inside a crop circle, after which the chemical analyses that were performed on the plants and the soil were ridiculed. This can be compared with deliberately exchanging blood samples during the development of a vaccine and accusing the researchers of ignorance when the results appear to be inconsistent. Activities of this kind have no value, nor will they serve to enfeeble the mysteries around the crop circle phenomenon. All this shows, really, is that some debunkers are apparently quite intent to prove their point.

A virtuous debunker, instead, would focus on well-documented observations and experiments, and should not only try to find flaws in the work of others. He or she should also repeat the experiments and compare results, by mutual arrangement with the original researchers. Those who believe that this would be too much work or lack the proper scientific background to perform the experiments correctly should refrain from any comment. This is the only way in which progress can be made in the scientific world. If scientists, through the ages, had had ·the same mentality as some crop circle debunkers of today, we would probably still dress in bear skins.

On the other hand, sometimes the criticism of debunkers is justified. There are many self-proclaimed crop circle researchers who do not understand what they are doing, draw premature conclusions, publish their incorrect findings in magazines, books, and on the Internet, and in doing so cover up the essentials of the crop circle phenomenon. The flaws in their reasoning can be extremely disturbing, and many readers will contemptuously put these articles aside without paying attention to the basic message, which may very well be built on correct insights. Despite their good intentions, the work of these so-called researchers can have a very bad effect on the public opinion about crop circles. It does no harm when this is spoken out loud. So some debunkers do contribute to crop circle research, because they keep the critical researchers sharp, and they compensate far the many overenthusiastic crop circle worshippers.


Excerpt (with footnotes and some diagrams removed) from pp.85-89 "THE DEEPENING COMPLEXITY OF CROP CIRCLES - Scientific Research & Urban Legend" by Eltjo H Haselhoff, Ph.D. Copyright 2001 Published by Frog Ltd.


Light Orb Photography 

It will be clear from the previous sections of this book that the curious light balls or BOLs seem to form a very real phenomenon. In fact, ever since crop circles have appeared, anomalous light effects have been reported by many eyewitnesses. The vast number of accounts, an abundant amount of photographic and in particular video material, and the physical analysis presented in the previous paragraphs prove the existence of the BOLs, sometimes simply referred to as light orbs or--for reasons unclear to me--plasma bdlls. At the same time, with the increasing awareness of these anomalous light phenomena, many "cerealogists" have published a wealth of photographs of these "plasma balls" in newspapers, books, magazines, and of course on the Internet (see, for example, Figure 3-31).

Some of this material comes with reports of interesting characteristics: 

· The plasma balls can be photographed with ordinary equipment, but seem to appear only on photographs taken in the dark, with a flash. 

· They are often spherical, with intricate details in intensity, and often with a clear rim around them. 

· When different researchers photograph these plasma balls, each seems to record different shapes (circular, hexagonal, diamond-shaped, square, etc.). 

Zooming in to one of these spheres, one recognizes the intricate details and the rim (see Figure 3-32).

Needless to say, the plasma balls also appear on the photographic negative and even on pictures taken with a digital camera, excluding artifacts from chemical processing. The examples shown here, however, and without any doubt the majority of "plasma balls" photographed and published by others, are a nice example of "what you seek is what you get." When a flash photograph is taken in the pitch dark, the camera will produce the brightest flash the hardware permits, as can usually be seen on the over illuminated foreground. Due to the limited range of the flash, however, large parts of the photograph will nevertheless remain dark. Consequently, any tiny little speck of dust, any tiny raindrop or mist particle, or anything similar floating in the air within reach of the camera flash will produce a relatively bright reflection. Particles far away from the camera flash will not be captured; however, those at shorter distances will appear as large smears of light (because they will be out of focus), the shape of which will depend on their exact distance and the specific optical system of the camera. They might take the shape of the camera's diaphragm (circular, hexagonal, diamond-shaped, square), although usually circular spots will be seen. The curious nomenclature "plasma ball" should therefore be replaced by UFO instead, in this case meaning unfocused object. In fact, most of these so-called anomalies can be easily explained.

By no means do I intend to reject all anomalous light phenomena related to crop circles, as will be clear to you from my previous statements. However, an investigation into the origin of this matter takes much more than a simple photo camera and a flash. The least one should do is:

· Use a digital, stereoscopic camera (so that processing flaws can be eliminated, while this would allow measurement of the distance and size of the light objects).

· Work without a flash first (photographing delicate light effects with a flash is not the first thing you do and actually clashes with common sense).

Ordinary, single-shot photographs can never be conclusive. This is illustrated in Figure 3-33 by a flash photograph of my three-year-old daughter on New Year's Eve.

The ball artifacts are induced by extremely small smoke particles caused by the fireworks. I could see these artifacts right after I took the pictures, thanks to the digital camera I was using. Intrigued, I made many more photographs and noted how the artifacts disappeared as soon as the smoke had cleared away. 

The photograph in Figure 3-34 was taken at night, with a flash, during a light snowfall. It is clearly seen that the small snowflakes, as they approach the camera, get out of focus and transform into spherical "plasma balls," including the delicate details (possibly a light interference effect) and the rim.

The lesson we learn from this is that we should never make too big a conclusion during the study of uncommon phenomena. We should always take care not to become overenthusiastic and fool ourselves. It is my sincere opinion that many conclusions reached by others are premature. Of course this is not a particularly world-shattering finding, but there is a bad side effect. Ill-founded articles and premature or inaccurate conclusions made by those with apparently no

profound knowledge of the equipment they use (in this case optical lens systems) cast a dark shadow on the crop circle phenomenon in general, which is already under the fire of (often undeserved) skepticism. I am convinced that there is a genuine and highly interesting mechanism behind a considerable part of the crop circle phenomenon, including incomprehensible light: effects, while serious researchers have collected enough evidence to convince anyone with a reasonable amount of common sense. Getting this message out, however, is extremely difficult, and poorly researched, premature articles will seriously reduce the chance that crop circles will one day get the public attention they deserve.


More Research 

Much more crop circle research at various levels has been performed by a number of investigators. For nonscientists, however, it is not always easy to judge the value of this work. I find that, in many cases, insufficient effort is put into the exclusion of trivial explanations and in an accurate description of the methods, procedures, and equipment that were used. This is a crucial part of any scientific experiment, but most of the time not enough attention is paid to it. Unfortunately, incomplete logging makes any experiment worthless and inconclusive. In addition, the use of impressive, advanced equipment does not guarantee proof. In fact, the more advanced the equipment, the higher the skills and knowledge of the operator must be. For example, experiments with ultrasensitive magnetic field measuring equipment will always show deviations of the earth-magnetic field in any crop circle. However, only an advanced measuring protocol, including solid statistics, will make a serious conclusion possible (that may well indicate a piece of rock with high iron content buried somewhere in the field). Measurements with high-sensitivity, broadband radio receivers are even more difficult to interpret, since our atmosphere teems with all kinds of radio waves, most created by humans, but even some created by nature. Your equipment will always indicate something, but how can you be sure of the cause? I am not saying it is impossible, but it takes more than a healthy dose of enthusiasm and a home-made device to reach scientifically valid conclusions. In my opinion, serious crop circle research has been very limited so far. The reason is simple: Research costs money and will never rake place without solid funding. And as long as the public is not aware of their true nature, crop circles will never get the attention needed to raise funds.

Fortunately, some scientists seem to find a way of producing interesting and robust results. For example, the article published on the Internet by Marshall Dudley and Michael Chorost presents a substantial report about the discovery of thirteen short-lived radionuclides (radioactive isotopes) in soil samples taken from an English crop circle, including tellurium-119m, lead-203, and rhodium-102, with a natural lifetime of days only. The isotopes were found in two soil samples taken within the crop circle and were absent in a control sample taken ten meters outside the formation. The presence of these particular short-lived radionuclides is surprising, since they must be synthesized in particle accelerators or experimental nuclear reactors, which makes them very difficult and expensive to obtain. According to the authors, a possible explanation for the simultaneous presence of all these radionuclides could be activation of naturally occurring elements with deuterium (heavy hydrogen) nuclei. Deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen, is not rare; it exists freely in nature and without doubt also in crop circles. However, deuterium nuclei would only be able to create the reported isotopes if they were in the highly energetic state of one mega-electronvolt (in very simple terms, the energy of 9,091 electric sockets in a row). Where exactly such highly energetic deuterium nuclei could have come from remains a big question.

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