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The BBC's Francesca Kasteliz
"The latest in a long list of possible explanations"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Magnetic 'solution' to crop circle puzzle
Colin Andrews BBC
Colin Andrews has researched crop circles since the 80s
Research into the appearance of crop circles in summer fields claims the strange phenomena are caused by the Earth's magnetic field.

Circle BBC
Elaborate patterns are certainly man-made
Scientist Colin Andrews says 17 years of work has revealed that about 80% of the formations are man-made.

But he believes that magnetism may account for the rest, which display a simplicity of form compared with elaborate, beautiful patterns of the "hoaxes".

Dr Andrews believes a mysterious shift in the magnetic field gives rise to a current that "electrocutes" the crops forcing them to lie flat on the ground.

Summertime feature

The known hoaxers, artists who spend hours trampling fields with footboards attached to a length of rope, say the public does not believe in scientific explanations.

John Lundberg BBC
John Lundberg: The public do not want to believe scientists
Crop circles are a regular summertime feature of the UK arable landscape, particularly in Wiltshire and the West Country where there are a number of ancient sites.

Designs in the flattened wheat, barley and corn become more elaborate each year, fuelling the debate over who or what is responsible for them.

Explanations have ranged from freak weather conditions to alien visitors. But Dr Andrews, funded by a grant from the Rockerfeller Institute in the US, believes he is closer to the truth.

'Natural' creations

He has hired private detectives to track hoaxers and now says he can rule out 80% of the formations. He claims the less elaborate designs are the "natural" creations caused by a three-degree shift in magnetic field lines.

Russian crop circles BBC
Some claim circles are UFO landing sites
Dr Andrews, who plans to publish his findings later this year, says more work still needs to be done his theory.

Self-proclaimed hoaxer John Lundberg said no-one would ever believe a scientific explanation for crop circles because people want to believe it is something more mysterious. "The public don't want it explained," he said.

Most mainstream scientists believe the only explanation for crop circles lies in the footboards of hoaxers.

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09 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Going round in circles
09 Aug 00 | UK
Q&A: Crop circles
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