Crop circles: even outsider artists are good at math

A different crop circle: This one was created by confused cattle. Amazing.
A different crop circle: This one was created by confused cattle. Amazing.Courtesy Alan L. Baughman
Want to blow some minds, Buzzketeers? You’ve got a couple of options.

The first and most obvious route to some serious brain-blasting is to become a motorcycle stunt jumper. I don’t care if you aren’t into engines and broken bones; if you see a man in a cape riding a dirtbike fly over 30 flaming school buses, your brain will ooze out your ear holes (in the most awesome way).

The other option is to learn some math. It doesn’t have to be too much math—a lot of people couldn’t tell trig if it bit them in the calc, and so a little math can go a long way. And if you can combine that math with another skill…minds will be blown.

Take, for example, the latest, greatest crop circle. Now, we all know that crop circles are made by aliens, right? Duh. It’s a case of Occam’s razor—the simplest explanation is the best. So we have unusual patterns battered into fields of crops. What’s the explanation with the fewest assumptions? That beings we have never encountered traveled from a place we know nothing about, and use their very likely highly advanced minds and inter-stellar travel technology to draw circles and things in our food for reasons we can’t fathom.

For the sake of argument and education, however, let’s pretend that crop circles have a much more complex origin—that they come from dudes (and dudettes, undoubtedly) with an artistic bent, and too much time on their hands.

So, back to this particularly mind blowing circle. It appeared on a field near Barbury Castle (which, I’m afraid, isn’t much of a castle), and consists of a ten layered, jagged-looking spiral, with a few circles and dots and things. It looks pretty cool—check out the photograph—but it means nothing to me. Then again, I majored in the liberal arts. When the circle was examined by an astrophysicist (or a “professional cleverboots,” as they are sometimes known), however, something remarkable jumped out of the shape: it’s a mathematical code.

And what secret equation or figure is hidden in this alien thought bubble?


“The code is based on 10 angular segments with the radial jumps being the indicator of each segment,” says the astrophysicist on-call. “Starting at the centre and counting the number of one-tenth segments in each section contained by the change in radius clearly shows the values of the first 10 digits in the value of pi (3.141592654). The tenth digit has even been correctly rounded up. The little dot near the centre is the decimal point.”

How about that? I wouldn’t have noticed, but now that I’ve been told, my mind is hissing and steaming out of my tear ducts. Or are those just tears of happiness?

Very clever, crop circle-person, very clever. Consider all minds blown. And you couldn’t have done it without your old pals math and geometry.

Check out this page for ten of the most impressive crop circles to be seen on Google Earth (the new one isn’t on there yet

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

In Star Wars, imagination brings starships, droids and lightsabers to life. On our own planet, scientists and engineers rely on imagination to create real-world marvels.

posted on Sat, 08/09/2008 - 5:26pm
Anonymous person194030404-5----555's picture
Anonymous person194030404-5----555 says:

Crop circles are obviously not man made

posted on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 9:48am

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