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No. 65: Sep-Oct 1989

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Books About The Crop Circles

You know a phenomenon has "made it" when a book is devoted to it. With the English crop circles, we now have two books (bibliographical information below.) We will try to stock at least one of these books, but it will be a few months before can can get them on this side of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, a review of the two books in New Scientist provides some information beyond that already presented in several past issues of SF.

First, the crop circles, spanning 5 to 20 meters, are incredibly precise and sharp. Flattened stems on the periphery of a circle almost touch erect, undamaged stems.

The so-called satellite circles that sometimes array themselves around the main circles may be connected by a narrow ring, thus:
Crop circle with so-called satellite circles

Even more curious, a short radial spur extends outward from some circles, so that from the air the circle resembles a fat tadpole.
Crop circle with short radial spur extending outwards

Other crop circle arrays
In his book, G.T. Meaden, the Editor of the Journal of Meteorology, U.K., presents his theory of how the circles are incised in field crops:

"He describes the clues that have enabled him to point to the circles being formed by the impact of a body of fast-spinning air that has been partially ionized. He explains how a columnar atmospheric vortex, with a vertical or inclined axis, provides the channel for the formation of a plasma (ionized gas) vortex and for its conduction towards the ground. The ionisation of the air ought to be sufficient to make the vortex luminous at night and the fast spin may make the vortex appear ball-shaped. Such a description suggests that Meaden may well have explained some sightings previously reported as UFOs in areas where circles have been found."

(Elsom, Derek; "A Crop of Circles," New Scientist, p. 58, July 29, 1989.)

The books are: Circular Evidence, Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews, Bloomsbury, 14.95 pounds; and The Circles Effect and Its Mysteries, G. Terence Meaden, Artetech, 11.95 pounds.

Comment. Why are the crop circles so common in England (160 so far this summer alone) so rare elsewhere? Could the luminous phenomenon predicted by Meaden be related to the tornado lights reported under GLD10 in Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights?

From Science Frontiers #65, SEP-OCT 1989. 1989-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987