From: Stig Agermose <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 06:03:54 +0200 Fwd Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 09:29:08 -0400 Subject: Close Encounters Of The Circular Kind Source: LaCrosse Tribune (LaCrosse, Wisconsin), http://www.lacrossetribune.com/news/zClose_encounters_of_the_circular_kind.p= hp Stig *** Last updated on Mon Jun 17 16:30:55 CDT 2002 Close encounters of the circular kind Knight Ridder Newspapers ** TOWN OF PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. - Gene Large wasn't sure what to make of it when he walked out of his farmhouse the morning of July 11, 1998, and discovered a mysterious, two-acre circle formation in his wheat field. At first, said 65-year-old Large, "I thought it was some kids in their four-wheelers" who flattened his crop. But the more he thought about it, Large wasn't so sure. "There were no tracks anywhere. And, besides, how the hell did they make such perfect circles?" he said. Hundreds of crop circles - often incredibly complex geometric formations usually found in fields of grain - are reported worldwide every year. And interest in them may grow this summer with the Aug. 2 release of "Signs," a movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Mel Gibson as a Pennsylvania farmer who finds alien-created crop circles in his corn field. Are they proof we're not alone, the calling card of a worldwide hoax or, as the Ozaukee Sheriff's Department concluded in Port Washington, just the work of some nocturnal vandals? When it comes to crop circles, theorists exist for any conspiracy. Large harvested his wheat within days of finding the formation, and he and his wife, Shirley, went on with their lives. The circles received no media attention. But aerial photos taken by Large's neighbor made their way onto the Internet - stirring interest among the true believers, researchers who call themselves cerealogists (after the Roman goddess of vegetation, Ceres). "I was amazed by it," said one investigator, Thom Reed, of McHenry, Ill., who studied the site after it had been harvested and posted a report on the Internet. His report concludes they were made by "interdimensional intelligences." Kim Sherwood, of Santa Monica, Calif., thinks the Port Washington crop circles are "genuine" - that is, not man-made. "The fact it has no walk lines is a very good sign. It's very clean, neatly done and contains visually similar characteristics to other crop circles," said Sherwood, who researches crop circles with her husband, Ed, and viewed pictures of the crop circles on the Internet. Sherwood believes crop circles are caused by a "global poltergeist, a psycho-interactive phenomenon of collective consciousness and infinite intelligence that points to a form of divine intervention, if you like. What some people may call God." Stephen J. Smith, a Vermont "amateur composer" who died last year, found the Port Washington collection of circles to have the proper "diatonic" ratios to each other to create three-to- five-note musical scales. Smith composed and recorded music based on it and another crop circle found near Wausau in 1997, which he said generated a five- note scale, as well as on two crop circles in England. Another believer was so intrigued by the Large circles that he traveled to the site to take soil samples. According to Casey Holt, of Minnesota, the samples contained a higher-than-normal concentration of spherical iron particles, 20 to 50 microns in diameter - typical of "genuine" sites, he wrote in an e-mail to a reporter. That indicates "there was a kind of electromagnetic energy present at the site." Some wheat stalks appeared to have been exposed to heat, and the circles were not perfectly round but slightly oval, which would be consistent with the belief that they were created by a "beam" or "ray" emitted from a craft hovering at an angle above the site, he said. Crop circle connoisseurs of another stripe have a different observation: Two people could have made them in about an hour. "It's competent, but not that impressive," said John Lundberg, 33, one of a three-member group known as "The Circlemakers" in England who claim to have made hundreds of crop formations over the last decade. He viewed the Port Washington circles on the Internet and e- mailed a reporter and called it "a very simple design." As crop circles go, the approximately 230-by-210-foot Port Washington formation is dwarfed by most British crop circles, some of which are more than 800 feet in diameter and contain hundreds of individual circles. Skeptics say crop circles are the product of people such as Lundberg and Wil Russel, commonly known as "hoaxers," an appellation scorned by circle-makers. "I'm not a hoaxer, I'm a circle-maker," said Russel, one of Lundberg's partners. "Hoaxing is an activity to deceive by making fun of someone. That's not what I do. I make art, which stimulates a reaction from everyone who sees it." The most famous, and some say first, circle-makers were Britons Doug Bower and David Chorley who, in 1991, said they made about 250 circles over the previous two decades. Others, like Lundberg and Russel, have taken up the cause. Their Web site offers, among other things, instructions on how to make a crop circle. If every crop circle were man-made, where would the mystery be? So Lundberg and Russel don't claim that to be the case. "I believe there is something else at work, but I am not sure what," Russel wrote. Some people serious about the subject have no time for circle- makers or alien buffs. The circle-makers, said Nancy Talbot, "get in the way of our work." Talbot heads a group called BLT Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., and oversees a network of nearly 700 volunteers who investigate crop circle reports. Talbot also helps finance scientific research on the subject. She also complained about "all the UFO talk" that has "scared off many legitimate scientists" and dried up most funding sources for scientific research. A deputy investigating the site believed the wheat was flattened by vandals riding all-terrain vehicles, according to the incident report. But Sheriff Maury Straub viewed the crop circles from a plane flown by a neighbor of the Larges. He said it's more likely that someone walked into the field and flattened it using boards and ropes, moving about in circular patterns - a technique described on Internet sites. That explanation didn't fly with Reed - the visitor to the site from Illinois - who talked to Straub on the phone. He said the sheriff was "tight- lipped about the formation" and it "seemed like Straub was in a hurry to finish the conversation." Straub remembers that chat. "Yeah, a big cover-up and all that nonsense. And you can quote me. There's absolutely no validity to that," Straub said. Still, Shirley Large isn't so sure. The night before the circles were discovered, Shirley and the family's dog, home alone while Gene was at work in Saukville, felt something ominous. "The dog was strange that night and would hide behind the chair," she said. "I got kind of scared and pulled down the shades and closed the drapes. I even put a towel over the front-door window. "I didn't hear or see anything. It was just a feeling." Now, Shirley said, she's a "firm believer in UFOs." "But I don't know how they were made," she said. "I can't figure it out." ** Copyright =A9 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002 The La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved.
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