Crop-circles complexity? Blame GPS

Sunday 31st July 2011
Global complexity in crop circles

Today’s crop-circle designs are more complex than ever, with some featuring up to 2000 different shapes. Mathematical analysis reveals the use of construction lines, invisible to the eye, that are used to design the patterns, although exactly how crop circles are created remains an open question. Now Richard Taylor, director of the Materials Science Institute at the University of Oregon, takes a serious, objective look at a the topic of crop circles that some might claim is beyond scientific understanding.

As the global crop-circle phenomenon grows alongside advances in science and technology, Taylornotes how physics and the arts are coming together to produce more impressive and spectacular crop-circle patterns that still manage to maintain their mystery.

According to  Richard Taylor (Right, physics professor and director of the University of Oregon Material Science Institute, who led an effort to design a fractal-based retinal implant to help return vision to the blind. Credit: Photo Jim Barlow) physics could potentially hold the answer, with crop-circle artists possibly using the Global Positioning System (GPS) as well as lasers and microwaves to create their patterns, dispensing with the rope, planks of wood and bar stools that have traditionally been used.

Microwaves, Taylor suggests, could be used to make crop stalks fall over and cool in a horizontal position – a technique that could explain the speed and efficiency of the artists and the incredible detail that some crop circles exhibit.  Indeed, one research team claims to be able to reproduce the intricate damage inflicted on crops using a handheld magnetron, readily available from microwave ovens, and a 12 V battery.

As Taylor writes, “Crop-circle artists are not going to give up their secrets easily. This summer, unknown artists will venture into the countryside close to your homes and carry out their craft, safe in the knowledge that they are continuing the legacy of the most science-oriented art movement in history.”


Crop circle pictures Courtesy: UK Crop Circles: :http://www.ukcropcircles.co.uk/?page=crop-circles 
Google: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Crop+Circles&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=gI9&rls=org.mozilla:enUS:official&prmd=ivnsr&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=oSo1Tq7bBMHQhAeHpZmACw&ved=0CD0QsAQ&biw=1405&bih=616

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