Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The physics of the mysterious crop circles

There's no reason to think that Crop Circles are the work of aliens - particularly when human pranksters have already admitted to making them - but they're still mysterious... not to mention a fascinating junction point between physics and art.
Crop circles, elaborate designs that are etched into farmlands that are a thing of beauty when viewed from the air have long been determined to be the work of pranksters.

Crop circles have confounded farmers and scientists alike since they were first recorded in the 17th century, and now physicist Professor Richard Taylor says the phenomenon is growing alongside advances in technology.

Taylor says physics could 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, the journal Physics World reports.

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, according to an Oregon statement.

And another question -- why does an academic feel the need to get caught up in the world of alien landing conspiracies?

Matin Durrani, editor of Physics World, said Taylor was "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."

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