How Crop Circles Work

Crop circle discovered at Alton Barnes in England in June 2004.

Photo courtesy

The sun sets on a field in southern England. When it rises again the following morning, that field has been transformed into an enormous work of art. A large section of the crop has been tamped into a pattern of circles, rings and other intricate geometric shapes. But who created it?

Are crop circles the work of alien visitors? Are they a natural phenomenon, created by electrically charged currents of air? Or are they elaborate hoaxes perpetrated by savvy, talented and very determined circlemakers? Believers and naysayers each have their own theories, but the truth remains elusive.

In this article, we'll look into the phenomenon of crop circles -- what they are, where they can be found, how they are made (from the people who claim to create them), and how researchers are studying them in an effort to separate the supernatural from the scientific.