Crop Circles: Beyond hoax

by Linda Moulton Howe

aus: Share International, May 1993

Wiedergabe mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Share International

Linda Moulton Howe is an award-winning television producer and a leading crop circle researcher.

More than 2,000 simple circles, Celtic crosses and increasingly complex “pictograms” have been discovered in southern England’s crop fields since 1978. Hundreds more have been reported world-wide in more than a dozen countries.

When the circle designs suddenly evolved in 1990 to rectangles, triangles, ovals, “ladders” and “insects” as big as football fields, physics professor Archie Roy at Glasgow University said he was convinced humanity was encountering an advanced intelligence.

Then 1991 produced the large formation of circles and triangles at Barbury Castle that mathematician Gerald Hawkins called “a geometry lesson” (see Share International December 1992). The year ended with the astonishing Mandelbrot Set* in a field at Ickleton near Cambridge.

Expectations were that the 1992 season would be even more symbolic and mathematical, and would perhaps bring contact with the intelligence behind the phenomenon. Instead, it was a season marred by an official hoax contest and rumours that intelligence agents from both the US and England were involved with creating hoaxes to diffuse public interest.

Regardless of alleged government disinformation schemes, biochemical changes, which scientists say cannot be hoaxed, have been reported in some of the 1991 and 1992 formations.

1992 overview
More than 100 pictograms were reported between May and 18 August 1992 in the Wiltshire countryside of southern England. Major formations included:

- a ringed circle that stretched straight south 387 feet, containing the familiar ‘key’ shape seen in 1990-1991;
- a 400-foot-long ‘snail’ discovered in a wheat field;
- a formation that was found a week later, a few miles west of the ‘snail’, meandering 330 feet in circles, corridors and 90 degree angles;
- a 324-foot-long ‘pointer’ that appeared the next day. A similar double pictogram had been found in the same field two years previously pointing directly at Silbury Hill, a pyramid-like structure built around 2,800 BC for unknown purposes;
- a triangle that measured 161 feet each side found in a wheat field. Scholars say this triangular symbol of three circles connected by lines is an ancient Asian representation for the Sirius star system and is also a Hebrew magical symbol for the letter “I” or the phrase “I am.” (See photograph on page 20 and later reference regarding Woodborough Hill formation.)
- a 306-foot-long sprawl of circles, lines and ‘celery stalk’ appendages; and
- a 187-foot-diameter circle containing seven symbols and a man-made water trough attached like charms on a bracelet.

Sky object 27 July 1992
The modern age of crop circles began in 1978. Throughout the 1980s, the formations became increasingly complex, and strange lights in the night sky were often reported near fields where crops were sculpted in odd patterns.

Even though there is no direct eyewitness link between UFOs and the formations, and no one has yet photographed or videotaped a formation occurring, three unusual events in the same area of southern England have been recorded.

A small, glowing, white object moving through and above crops was videotaped by Jan Alexander in 1990. A year later in August 1991, a German student videotaped another similar object in a formation nearby.

Then in 1992 at 12.30 am, Monday 27 July, four people watched “a structured craft” move slowly over fields near Woodborough Hill. A night watch had been organized in an attempt to contact the intelligence behind the crop circle formations.

A similar attempt at UFO contact was made in Gulf Breeze, Florida, in March 1992 with some success (see SI July/August 1992).

On Thursday 23 July, the group at Woodborough Hill concentrated on a particular symbol which they hoped would appear in the fields as a crop formation. The next day a triangle formation 161 feet across was discovered in a wheat field 12 miles from Woodborough Hill (see photograph). The group said it matched the symbol they were concentrating on the previous night.

On Sunday, 26 July, rain forced most of the group away by 11.30 pm. Four people stayed on: Dr Steven Greer, a North Carolina emergency physician, founder of the Center for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI) and organizer of the Gulf Breeze experiment; Chris Mansell, an archaeology researcher from East Sussex, England; Aneek Nivijan, a student from Belgium; and a psychologist from the United States who wishes to remain anonymous.

Waiting for the rain to stop, Mansell said he was smoking a cigarette in the driver’s seat and looked out of his open window: “I was actually watching the dark space in the drizzle when — whatever it was — seemed to either appear from out of the ground or from out of nowhere. It wasn’t as if something came from somewhere in the distance and gradually came across the sky. It suddenly seemed to be there.”

Mansell drew a sketch of what he saw through binoculars. He explained there were about 10 lights in a straight line that were blinking from red at the left side through white to a blue-green color at the right which gave him the impression of something round and revolving. He ran to Steven Greer’s car to make him aware.

All four witnesses watched for approximately 15 minutes while the object moved slowly south, staying very low, and passing behind some trees about a quarter of a mile away. Chris estimated the size of the object to be about 80 feet in diameter based on its relationship to the trees.

The moving lights came to a clearing, stopped motionless and seemed to change shape or position. Three amber lights formed a triangle above a dimmer line of lights that continued to change color from red to white to blue-green. Steven Greer said it reminded him of a Christmas tree.

Chris Mansell saw a red light detach itself and move across the horizon. To his naked eye, he said, it looked like a single red light. But through the binoculars, it looked like a little cluster of red lights.

Dr Greer decided to use a strong flashlight to signal the object. He flashed twice. The top amber light flashed back twice in the same rhythm. This flashing was repeated six or seven times and the object responded each time. Then the top amber light flew away and eventually the object disappeared.

The next afternoon Greer’s group learned of a triangle formation 161 feet across in a wheat field 12 miles from Woodborough Hill (see photograph). They said it matched the symbol their group was concentrating on Sunday night 26 July. But others, including surveyor Paul Martineau, said the triangle had been in the field
since 24 July and thus preceded the night watch.

I took wheat samples from inside and outside the triangular formation near Woodborough Hill, and sent them to biophysicist W.C.Levengood at the Pinelandia Biophysical Lab in Michigan. He has studied crop samples from 1991 and 1992 formations in the United States, Canada and England. Dr Levengood is convinced
that the crop circle phenomenon is produced by a rapid and intense energy that is producing cell changes in affected plants.

(1) Consistent cell pit changes
Dr Levengood examined my wheat samples and others from the formation. Based on 30 samples, he found a 21 per cent average and consistent increase in cell pit diameters compared to normal control cells. Cell pits are small holes in plant cells that allow fluid to flow up and down plant stalks.

Over the past two years, Dr Levengood has measured a consistent 23 per cent mean average increase in cell pit diameters. He has also discovered a gradual gradation increasing in cell pit size from the edge of the plant leaf to the center and from the outer edge of formations to the centers. If a plant is stepped on, the physical
pressure of impact will force fluid in the stem to expand rapidly.

Consequently, cell pits will enlarge. But in that situation the expansion is randomly distributed. So far, the only way Levengood has been able to reproduce a consistent cell pit change in control plants was to place them in a microwave oven.

(2) Rapid heating
After 30 seconds of microwave exposure, the cell pits were enlarged 14 per cent by the expanding heated water in the plant cells. If heated longer than 30 seconds, the plant cells shriveled from dehydration, which has not been seen in formation plant samples.

Given the dehydration factor, Dr Levengood concludes that whatever energy creates the formations, “the heating must occur at a rapid rate, not more than 30 seconds.”

Dr Levengood also found evidence of rapid heating in corn seeds from a Medina, New York, circle in October 1991. Those seeds were sent to a scientist who used a scanning electron microscope. She said: “I found unusual crystals, like seeds heated by microwave.”

(3) Changes in seed growth
Some crop formations have occurred as early as April. In early-growing spring plants, Dr Levengood finds a complete lack of seed development, “no embryogenesis at all”. Normally, one would find developing seeds in spring plants.

In later, more mature plants from July on, he finds whole and healthy seeds that germinate at a growth rate 87 per cent faster than control plants. Agriculture seed experts say if they can produce a 5 per cent increase in growth rate, they are doing well. “Eighty-seven per cent is astonishing,” says Levengood.

(4) Node cracking and reorientation
Bruce Rideout, a psychologist with a biology degree who teaches at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, studied plants from Linfield and Limerick, Pennsylvania, formations northwest of Philadelphia in May 1992.

Dr Rideout discovered node splitting or cracking in affected plants and a peculiar and angled reorientation of the growth nodes — the places on plants where leaves and stems branch. Dr Levengood has observed those same changes in reproductive and germination tissue from England crops.

United States

In Troy, Illinois, circles in sweet flag grass have occurred in the same two spots in June 1991 and 1992. Dr Levengood found that the cell pits in these circles were expanded 50 per cent larger than normal. He also found that the edges of the leaves were wrinkled oddly, a bit like crêpe paper wrinkles when stretched on one side (see photograph on page 19).

He said the only way he could reproduce those changes would be by applying a rapid burst of heat in a microwave oven. “There is no way a hoaxer can do this,” he said.

Sherry Yarkosky, a chemist trained in plant physiology who works for Alvey Labs in Belleville, Illinois, said the affected plants in Troy showed sodium levels twice as high as unaffected plants and a 5 per cent decrease in nitrogen content.

This might be the result of dehydration, but Yarkosky said she did not know the cause. As recently as 8 September 1992 a perfect 600-foot wide circle was found in the middle of a 160-acre potato field in Clark, South Dakota.

Lyman Wookey’s family has run the Wookey Potato Company since 1937. “In all that time, I have never seen
anything like this circle in the potatoes,” he told me. His hired man was harvesting when he came upon the dried, shrivelled plants. “Everything outside the circle was normal green. Everything inside the circle was completely dead,” said Mr Wookey.

At first he wondered if it was chemical damage. But the closer he looked at the plants, the more he became convinced that was not the answer. “Besides, chemical damage doesn’t make a perfect circle.”

The potatoes looked normal, and he proceeded to harvest the big, dead circle. Later on, he saw a small article in a local agriculture journal about Dr Levengood volunteering to analyse plants from US formations. Mr Wookey called Levengood and arrangements were made to ship both plants and potatoes to the Michigan lab.

Dr Levengood reports that in these naturally flat-growing vine plants, he found cell pit enlargement ranging from 19.1 per cent to 27.9 per cent and a striking difference between potatoes from inside the circle compared with potatoes from outside. The normal control ‘potatoes’ were smooth, red, no blemishes.

Samples from inside the circle had yellow streaks along the surface and cracks in the outer epidermis. He
found no difference in the internal tissues of control and sample potatoes.

One week earlier, on 30 August, in Austinberg, Ohio, four different rectangles were found in young, growing sweetcorn. The rectangles varied in size from 8 by 25 feet to 15 by 25 feet. All the corn stalks were bent down in one direction.

“None of the stalks were broken and none of the ears were taken,” said corn farmer Donald Wheeler. At first, he suspected deer, but when he checked his field for tracks, he could not find any, not deer, raccoon or human.

Then he thought maybe a freak storm had hit. But the corn stalks were not twisted and nothing else nearby or
in his yard showed any signs of storm damage. Carl Feather, reporting for the Ashtabula, Ohio, Star Beacon wrote:

“It just appeared as if something came down out of the sky, pushed the stalks flat on the ground and left without leaving any other trace in the soft ground.”

The crop was young because the location is near one of the Great Lakes and the moderated temperatures provide a longer growing season for second plantings. Connie Sistek, an investigator in Ashtabula, gathered plant and ear samples from inside the rectangles and outside for controls and sent them to Dr Levengood.

He found that tassels from the young control plants were tightly closed as they should have been. But in the formation plants, the tassels were completely opened up, suggesting accelerated growth of the affected plants after or during the rectangles’ creation.

Summarizing the current situation regarding crop formations, Scottish astronomer and physicist Professor Archie E. Roy has said: “Since 1980, scientific hypotheses have been framed (about the formations) and then scrapped. Other, stranger, guesses have multiplied as fast as the circles themselves.

Several books have been written about them; and an international conference has been held, and its proceedings published. Scores of television programs have covered them. Hundreds of hours of flying time and foot-slogging have been spent in visiting them.

Thousands of photographs have been taken. Reports and articles published in the local and national press have now passed well beyond counting. Yet the mystery, far from being solved, continues to grow.”

For more information about crop circle science and videotapes about the phenomenon, please contact Linda Moulton Howe Productions, PO Box 538, Huntingdon Valley, Pa. 19006, USA.

*A Mandelbrot Set is a repeating fractal equation which produces a pattern depicting chaos that actually has an elegant mathematical order. The set is named after Benoit B. Mandelbrot, a research fellow at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. He has developed the field of mathematics called fractal geometry, which is used to study Chaos Theory and patterns of growth in the natural world.

© 1992 Linda Moulton Howe, All Rights Reserved

published by Share International