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The Secrets of Crop Circles

The German documentary New Swirled Order looks at crop circles in a scientific and critical way, trying to get at the mystery behind these incredibly intricate geometrical designs found in fields all over the world. Crop circle experts such as Michael Glickman, Andreas Müller, Bert Janssen, Nancy Talbot and others discuss their opinions about crop circles and the results of years of research, photographs, and books written about them. The documentary provides some scientific analysis of the crop circle phenomenon and views about the possible cultural and psychological relevance of these shapes. They discuss other instances of geometrical patterns in nature, such as the waveform patterns made when water is exposed to sound frequencies, and the natural form of geometries in things like flowers, seashells, and the feathers of a peacock. Several crop circles are given specific detailed analysis, including the Arecibo Chilbolton formations, which some consider to be messages about alien intelligence, and formations that a number of enthusiasts think represent the Mayan calendar and 2012.

While many people are skeptical about crop circles and assume that they are all man-made, there are several evidences which can be shown that indicate the difference between legitimate or “natural” crop circles and the ones which are artificial or man-made. For example, in a natural crop circle the magnetic fields around the shafts of wheat have been affected by radiation. Many of these physical changes in the crops are reproducible when scientists apply microwave radiation to wheat. There is also a higher concentration of magnetic material in the soil underneath crop circles than in the surrounding field. In a natural crop circle none of the shafts of wheat are actually broken (as they would be in a man-made crop circle created by people stomping down the wheat), but rather, they are bent perfectly without being broken, as though pushed down very quickly by something like a gust of wind or burst of energy from above. Visually, it's often easy to differentiate because the fuzziness and relative inaccuracy of the geometry in the man-made shapes pales in comparison to the precise geometrical perfection seen in natural crop circles.

While it is possible for humans to make replicas of the circle designs, this requires a lot of complex geometrical calculation and hours or days of labor to accomplish. However some crop circles have been documented as being formed in very short spans of time, in hours or minutes, and sometimes in weather conditions like heavy rain which would make the process very difficult. Evidence like this indicates that the mystery of crop circles goes deeper than many imagine. Perhaps, as some experts have speculated, the secret of crop circles lies not only in the beautiful and complex form of the designs themselves, but also in the way the shapes interact with the human psyche. The full-length documentary is available for free on Youtube, or can be purchased as a DVD with additional materials and interviews from

Image Creative Commons courtesy of LePetitPoulailler.

Tristan Gulliford is a writer, dreamer, and aspiring myth-keeper
who makes electronic music under the name "Dreamcode". He is currently
attending the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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