Some crop circles 'created by magnetic fields'

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The Independent Online

A considerable number of crop circles, those hardyperennials of the bizarre, are actually not the work of hoaxers but are caused by the Earth's magnetic field, a British researcher says.

A considerable number of crop circles, those hardyperennials of the bizarre, are actually not the work of hoaxers but are caused by the Earth's magnetic field, a British researcher says.

But Colin Andrews, a former local government engineer who is now funded by one of America's richest men, Laurance Rockefeller, also acknowledges that at least 80 per cent of the geometric designs, which plague farmers and delight tourists, are the work of rather simpler forces involving lawn rollers and string - that is, human hoaxers. Mr Andrews is being paid to trace the cause of the geometric designs, and reckons that fluctuations in the Earth's natural magnetic forces lead to the crops being "electrocuted" so that they collapse.

He said readings of the magnetic field around circles matches their shape. He calls his findings a "significant breakthrough". They follow 11 years of research funded by Mr Rockefeller, brother of the late Nelson Rockefeller, who is known for his interest in and funding of research into unexplained phenomena such as UFOs.

Mr Andrews has built up a database of more than 10,000 crop circles observed all over the world, and hired private detectives to track down hoaxers. That led to the 80 per cent figure for the fakes - although the figure could be higher, since in the past circle-watchers have been fooled into thinking that formations were produced by natural phenomena even when people have been hired to create them and filmed doing so.

But Mr Andrews insists that "the other 20 per cent remain quite another thing and I think the Earth's magnetic field is directly involved". He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What I am working with is simply the facts. We are measuring a difference in the magnetic field. I think we have a really significant breakthrough here."

He could not explain why the circles had not been observed before 1981. In fact, last year Doug Bower, who claims to be the original crop circle creator, said he made his first design after leaving a pub one evening in 1978 - but it was only three years later, when he created one in the Devil's Punchbowl in Wiltshire that media attention was awakened. Mr Bower only came forward in January last year.

Mr Andrews said his research would be published in the autumn.

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