Since the eighteenth century, the world has been fascinated by the nocturnal phenomenon of crop circles – strange, inexplicable patterns appearing in farmer’s fields overnight. Explanations for these occurrences have included everything from cyclonic wind action to alien interference.
As yet no conclusive evidence has been found for any of these theories, which have been criticized as pseudoscientific by skeptical groups like the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
In his 1997 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan discussed alien-based theories of crop circle formation. Sagan concluded that no empirical evidence existed to link UFOs with crop circles.
Skeptics can tell from post-holes, foot tracks, and other clear signs that the majority of crop circles are made by humans, pranksters or circlemakers who take fun in building such weird circles. However, many crop circles – perhaps 20% – defy rational explanation. Believers suggests that “true circles” are created in a very few minutes by a blast of energy, that is responsible for the crop cells to become swollen and bent down at the nodes, or joints. Others say the cellular structure of the plants is affected at the molecular level and that the composition of the soil is altered.
Moreover, a few circles display a phenomenal level of complexity and would be difficult to draw on paper, let alone in a field after dark.
Frequent reports of strange balls of light (some captured on video) and sounds prior to the appearance of formations added fuel to the argument that they were being created by some as yet unknown, either natural or supernatural force.
Other odd occurrences have been reported, like electronic equipment failing to work inside the circles, then functioning normally once taken out and abnormal magnetic and radiation readings inside fresh circles. Not only does the physical appearance of the plants and soil seem to change, but there is change.