Those otherworldly crop circles may not have been caused by aliens after all. Instead, think physics: A study in Physics World points to the possibility that the patterns could be caused by earth-bound microwaves, lasers, and GPS. Maybe.
Formations in fields have been documented more than 10,000 times in the late 20th century. They have been credited to everything from paranormal activity, to human hijinks, to the weather — and in some cases, even wallabies (more on that later).
Further fueling the mystery is that the farmland designs are done in secret, usually in the dark — and often by jokesters who want to make it seem like Martians were at work. It wasn’t until 1991 that the first pranksters admitted to have created at least some of the crop circles as a UFO hoax. What’s confounded scientists is trying to explain just how the art is done without any marks left by the makers, all in just one night.
The question led researcher Richard Taylor of the University of Oregon to contend that in the modern age, planks and ropes (to flatten plants) and even bar stools to jump from one area to another undetected — were out.
Instead, the scientist argued that high-tech gadgets like GPS to place the shapes and magnetrons (tubes which use electricity and magnetism to generate intense heat) to cause the crop stalks to fall over at high speed must have been used.
Can any of this be proven as the tools of the crop-circle trade? Not really. But as Matin Durrani, editor of Physics World, put it, at least Taylor gives an explanation that’s an alternative to alien technology: “He is merely trying to act like any good scientist — examining the evidence for the design and construction of crop circles without getting carried away by the side-show of UFOs, hoaxes, and aliens.”
Fair enough. Still, some crop circles have a fairly reasonable explanation. The Harry Potter “maize maze” was designed by a York, England, farmer, not little green men.
And some formations in poppy fields in Australia have been blamed on wallabies. Yes, those kangaroo-like animals apparently eat the legally grown opiate, become “high as a kite,” and hop around to create their own circle work.
Whatever the real reason, we can all agree they’re crop-tastic.