Crop Circles?

Crop Circles?

by Mogens Winther

On August 22, 2001, the speakers at Radio DR-Syd in Denmark suddenly interrupted their news program, connecting directly to their field reporter standing at this expected UFO landing site close to Sønderborg.

Previous to this event several crop circle enthusiasts had phoned both TV, radio stations and newspapers. During this radio show however, we revealed that this cropcircle was not of extra-terrestrial origin.

This circle was simply constructed as an experiment by astronomy students at The Sønderborg Highschool, following a request from the children’s program called “Bugs Bunny’s Sundays Club”, National TV2, to see if it could be done.

It could. Easily.

Why this particular pattern?

We chose this circle because it has appeared once before in our country, close to the city of Aarhus in August 2000. During the intense media coverage of this circle, so-called Crop Circle Researchers claimed that these mathematical circle-diagram was far to complicated in order to be performed by humans. In August 2000 – the Danish living cropcircle researcher Jonau Ohavy told the press that this circle was far to complicated being performed by human beings… :

“These circles are made by means of a technique – we do not control – and the mathematical equations , by which these are drawn – are far to complicated being performed with a wooden board during a single night.”
Source “Phenomena : Mystery on Circles” – Jyllands-Posten August 23, 2000

“He says , he can prove, that the crop has not been pushed down by humans with a board. It is difficult to explain, if you do not know the phenomena. But it is a.o. to do with, that the construction of this circle is so complex, that is not performable during one night.”
“Big Interest in Crop Circles” AArhus Stiftstidende, August 22. 2000

However – as we demonstrated in the Bugs Bunny’s Sunday Club – it took these eager astronomy students merely 90 minutes to construct the basic circle of same size. We could do this even faster, should there be a next time: Our students have now initiated their own company called Danish Crop Circle Central, so if you want an astonishing full landscape crop circle commercial, you know who to call!

The Old Danish Battlefield UFO story

Fact or fiction? – decide yourself.

Worldwide, UFO enthusiasts have reported several crop circles. Are these circles due to UFOs? According to several magazines and UFO associations, there is such a connection.

Recently, these crop circles have also been observed in Denmark. Crop circles were registered in 1997 close to Randers, and 1996, we had a crop circle on the island of Lolland, as well as a circle close to the old 1864 Battle Field Dybbøl, near Sønderborg (image on right).

At a first look, these patterns appear most convincing. Are these crop circles really the work of Extra-Terrestrial UFO-visitors, or could there be another – maybe more likely – explanation?

As described in the newspaper Jydske Vestkysten Aug 1996, this Dybbøl Crop Circle consisted of 3 circles, connected with 2 lines:

The first photo above was taken from one of the smaller circles.

The next image shows the connecting line between the main circle, and one of the smaller circles:

As you may notice, all corn is bend down in a clear , straight manner. So far, everything looks great and amazing.

The next picture shows however the main circle. Here we have what looks like the first error:

This main circle is not perfectly round, instead, it appears as the combination of several short straight lines. This may just be what you would expect, if this crop circle was due to unexperienced, playful wags.

At least 2 wags (humans or ET’s?) have been at work, one bending the crop, and another one directing him/her/it from the circle centre. Clear footprints were visible at the centre.

Here is how to do it.

Following the intense media discussion, my son Jens and I performed experiments on how to construct such a circle. This is what you need:

  1. a wooden piece of board
  2. two pieces of rope

First of all, take your two pieces of rope, and connect them to your piece of board.

My son, Jens, age 13 with his homemade “UFO equipment”

After this preparation, just walk, it is SO EASY!!!!

“Follow that UFO, please !”

And no, the crop is not cut in anyway, as this detailed image may show you:

Were the Dybbøl Crop Circles genuine?

Both the Danish cropcircle at Dybbøl and the 1997 Randers crop circle followed shortly after TV transmissions on this topic (1996 : Discovery, 1997 : Danish DR TV1 Transmission of a National Geographic Crop Circle Programme). This was pointed out during a hot 3 days both pro et contra discussion in the local newspaper Jydske Vestkysten. Several obvious errors described above were pointed out, and described honestly by Jydske Vestkysten (they even brought a cartoon).

Yet, a number of magazines tried to declare this circle as being genuine. Following an angry and quite interesting phone call by an UFO-believer, it appeared to me that some people desperately wanted this Dybbøl crop circle to be genuine.

One of the many hoaxers, Tony Blews, made similar experiences, while constructing 4 fake cropcircles together with his friends:

“In my opinion the self-proclaimed experts and book writers desperately want us to believe that it’s something more than a hoax”….”

According to some New Age groups these circles are even due to an awesome ” tachyonic energy”, an undefined phenomena by which you might be able to cure yourself from a lot of dreadful diseases like e.g. cancer.

So, was this Battle Field Crop Circle genuine, as declared, or a fake ?

In the end, this crop circle really may be due to some dangerous green Gremlin monsters, running havoc at the old Dybbøl 1864 Battlefield. But – maybe more likely – these circles could just as well be the work of two playful wags, kids or fellows who now really relish these UFO articles. :-).

Looking back….

…at this media discussion, I have a few personal comments.

Skeptics claim these circles seems to be a question of faith, and not a question of science. The idea of constructing cropcircles may go back to two elderly English denizens Doug Bower and David Chorley, but irrespective of this, these UFO related stories often get immense TV coverage. The absolute unskeptical way these stories are presented, may actually scare some people. The incredible Hale Bopp UFO story is just one example of media UFO-hysteria.

This UFO was merely an amateur telescope error, but it gave rise to continued worldwide headlines, irrespective of the fast, honest and corrections by astronomers like e.g. Hale. The well known Heavens Gate Suicide is just one example of how pseudoscience becomes interpreted as the holy truth.

A similar story was an even nationwide UFO Panic, which arose in 1938 while Orson Welles transmitted his famous Invasion from Mars – radio story.

Computer controlled skyspot

Are UFO-observations real? The sky often shows natural or artificial phenomena, which at a first sight may be interpreted as UFOs. In 1995 we experienced a long range commercial searchlight (image on right). Night after night this computer controlled “skyspot” projector was moving in strange, computer-controlled patterns across the sky. When viewing from long distances, you could not see the searchlight itself. So of course the illuminated parts of the cloud cover were reported in the newspaper as being due to UFOs. Following protests by e.g. the Danish Nature and Wildlife Association, these searchlights are now being banned by the Danish Ministry of Environment. Today, companies like e.g. Lasertainment and Martin Industries do sell even more sophisticated mobile sky projection equipment.

Some products are intendedly designed to give an UFO like symbol on the sky. Visual ranges are typically 50 km, other companies talk about 80 km range, just imagine…

Besides this, a lot of other phenomena may give rise to an UFO experience. Weather balloons often reflect sunlight – and may be interpreted as UFO in particular during sunsets.

Together with my students here in Denmark, and during my previous stays at observatories in Chile and Arizona, I have had thousands of logged sky observing hours. We have seen a lot of exciting sky phenomena, auroras, noctilucent clouds, fireballs, and exciting comets. Some of these phenomena could have been interpreted as being UFOs, but so far, there has always been a far more reasonable and natural explanation.

Are flying saucers real? The first flying saucers were reported already in 1947, but still no bullet-proof evidence has been given. How come? Next time you drive along a highway, please look how we humans litter the nature with beercans, burgerboxes, and even old refrigerators. Why don’t these (otherwise unshy) UFO-people leave just a tiny piece of scrap as a single proof of their very existence?

As pointed out in a magnificent interview with late prof. Carl Sagan, how is it possible that nobody has ever found a single material evidence from these all so busy spaceships? Just a tiny sample of ET-scrap would be of immense scientific value. According to Dr. Carl Sagan, there is no doubt that any such material would be investigated publicly by the Worlds most leading scientists.

Unfortunately, so far, not a single gram has appeared – irrespective of more than 50 years of intensive UFO reports.

Are we really alone? The question of Life in the Universe is an obvious question, maybe the most important and most interesting question of science itself. Looking at the evidence, the sky is full of deep sky splendors. Recent research even show planets around other stars – as of today, we have found about 100 planets outside our solar system.

Infrared and Radio investigations show the Universe is full of numerous exciting molecules, material which may very likely give rise to living organisms. But the odds being high for Extra Terrestrial Life is not the same as blindly accepting every UFO and Crop Circle report. Space is huge, and these distances are vast beyond human imagination.

The idea of travelling by “person” is a very costly enterprise. Why should any ET spend huge energies, travelling into unknown nowhere, if a single $5 electricity radio signal would do a much better job? Considering the noise we humans make in Radio, VHF, UHF etc. – our Universe should be full of electronic communication. But as the Nobel Scientist Enrico Fermi once asked, “if there is life out there, why don’t we register it?”

Photo – Claus Bonnerup
Polfoto – (C) 2001

So far, unfortunately no radio – SETI search has had success. Thousands of stars have been surveyed by different methods at huge radio-instruments. So far, these important SETI searches have been without any reliable success. How come this paradox? Why is it so silent out there?

Could it be a law of Nature itself, that any civilisation sooner or later will reach the technological level of potential self-destruction? Humanity has had that level since the 1960s, our nuclear arsenals still have a most significant overkill, not to mention the potential dangers from pollution, greenhouse effects, ozone depletion, etc. So may be the potential selfdestruction of technologically skilled civilisations is the main reason why our universe remains so amazingly silent.

Quite thought-provoking – this silence. May be Man’s biggest enemy is not some violent Hollywoodlike Mars alien, but merely Man himself?

Warning: If you want to create a crop circle of your own, be sure to get permission from the farmer.

Mogens Winther is an author and senior master at Sønderborg High School, where he teaches mathematics, physics and astronomy. He has received several grants and prizes in connection with his work.
Amtsgymnasiet in Sønderborg – High School Astronomy