Oh no! Another Crop Circle debate...

I know, I know. There have been myriad crop circle debates on this board, and the concensus has always been that these are human artifacts. I’m not disputing this, but instead asking for the SDMB’s take on some of the wierder purported effects in some crop circles.

Ok, so I’m watching the Discovery Channel today and they have a special on crop circles which was just facinating so I wanted to share some of it with the board.

In the show Discovery Channel went to MIT and asked some students to re-create some of the more odd aspects purportedly to be in some crop circles…namely some interesting radiation effects that appearently effect some of the plants (they called them expulsion cavities and basically look like material was expelled from the plant at the joints) and spherical iron particles that are supposedly in high concentrations in crop circles, but not outside of them.

MIT took up the challenge and came up with some interesting engineering…they were given only 4 hours to make the crop circle and add what they called the special effects. The making of the circle was pretty straight forward…we’ve all seen the strings and plank method of making these things.

Next they used a magnetron (sp?)…basically the active component of a microwave oven…and a wave guide to make a portable microwave device which they used to create the radiation effect within the circle.

Finally they used a device that resembled a flame thrower to create the 5 micro spherical iron filings (basically it has a flaming ring on the outside and a sprayer that shot a flamable gas and a stream of iron filings). In the end they had to resort to an explosive device to make their 4 hour time table, but they made it.

As an interesting aside, the helocopter that Discovery Channel was using had a problem while it was circling the crop circle causing it to have to autorotate out of the circle…power was restored shortly before the helocopter landed and it was able to fly off. Coincidence? :slight_smile: Probably, but definitely wierd (if it actually happened).

The concensus of the MIT engineers was basically that the crop circles were human artifacts (and that people should definitely go out and do these things as it was a lot of fun :smiley: )…but that adding the special effects would be a lot of work.

So, what I’d like from people are there thoughts on these ‘special effects’. First off, are they real or is this bullshit? My own bullshit meter is going off here, especially when they start talking about dieing video cameras, batteries, and other helocopters, etc. So, how real are these ‘effects’? If real, how often do they actually happen?

Next up, how are people doing them? Are they really using portable microwave equipment and flame throwing iron filing devices (or explosives)? What alternatives can SDMB folks come up with that might be easier than the engineers at MIT?

Finally, are there any natural effects that could account for this (I throw this out as a bone to those that think crop circles are ‘real’)?

Don’t let me down here guys…I have more faith in many of you than in a bunch of MIT nerds. :wink:


Thats ‘5 micron’ spherical iron balls…in case it wasn’t clear.

BTW, in case it also wasn’t clear, the MIT guys were able to do all the ‘special effects’ and passed with flying colors…though it came down to the last 10 seconds on the 4 hour clock.


I’ve seen, probably on TDC, that many crop circles can be made by simply tying rope to the ends of a plank that’s a few feet long and a foot or so wide, then repeatedly stepping on the plank to push down the crops while holding to rope in your hands. A simple, low tech solution.

Right John…no dispute there. However, what I’m really asking after are these purported ‘special effects’. How would you do those? Certainly not with a board and string. The MIT guys used a portable microwave device and a flame thrower to do those parts of the circle. Thats kind of what I’m asking, not the making of the shapes.


Ohhhhhh. Never mind…

Seems reasonable. But at the point where you’re dragging out MIT students and having them slap together flame throwers and mangetrons to simulate the causitive effect, it does start to lend more credence to the UFO side of the argument. I’d personally demand to see some consistent verification of the effects within crop circles before I went to that step.

It would be perfectly easy for pseudo-scientists to read up on the effects of a high energy radioactive source and make up the details, I’ve seen it done in “documentaries” comparing Bigfoot to neanderthals. You just throw in a few unsubstantiated details, and all of a sudden you have a semi-credible account of facts.

Hey man, everybody knows crop circles are caused by alien ships landing. If you don’t believe in that, or Bigfoot or witching for water, where’s the fun in life? Let the magic flow through you. Feel the force, Dude!

Ok, now:

IMHO, it’s unlikely that pranksters would consistently produce the effects the MIT students were asked to produce. If those effects are indeed consistent, pranksters probably aren’t the answer to the crop circle question.

Ha ha! The Lockness-monster-exists, and humans do not lie or fool-around or make up things or anything like that at all!

Ya, that was my thought too. I was rather hoping someone on the board would either have a reasonable explaination or have some data on whether or not this is even something that happens very often (i.e. radiation effects and the iron filings thing). It was interesting though that it CAN be done with some minimal parts (they got the magnatron from an old microwave)…not counting the heavy duty brain power used of course. :slight_smile:

I’d want to see if you could correlate the sites where such effects were measured with whether there was a college campus near by.