Crop-circle investigators have concluded the three formations discovered in a Michigan farm were not the work of man but resulted from some unexplainable natural phenomenon.

“It gets weirder by the minute,” farmer Mike Esper told the Detroit Free Press. Esper says he came across the circles, which measure 51 feet, 10 feet and 8 feet in diameter, while he was driving his combine around his wheat field 50 miles northwest of Detroit.

Researcher Jeffrey Wilson, Mutual UFO Network of Indiana Assistant State Director Roger Sugden and others spent three days investigating the mystery.

They found holes in the plants’ stalks, which Wilson maintains happens when moisture inside heats up rapidly.

“You cannot hoax an expulsion cavity,” Wilson told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. “Nobody’s ever been able to stomp down a circle with a board in the wheat and cause that to occur. That is the one simple test that we can do to determine the authenticity.”

Other tests performed on the wheat, according to the local paper, show the top layers of the formation swirled down counter-clockwise, while under layers swirl in different directions.

But the evidence which clinched Wilson’s conclusion are the hourglass shapes in various colors in the wheat.

“That is a hallmark of an authentic formation, that hoaxed formations don’t have,” Wilson said.

“I’m amazed by the whole thing,” Esper told the Free Press. “I wanted to leave it so people could see it.”

Hundreds have flocked to view his find, from skeptics to scientists. Others seeking divine inspiration come to meditate with crystals.

“I think it’s cool,” the Free Press quotes high school teacher Susan Davis, 47, as saying. “Even if it’s just art, it’s beautiful. If it isn’t – wow!”

A local radio station attempted to tap into the frenzy. Two WKQI on-air personalities claimed responsibility for the circles yesterday. Station operations manager Dom Theodore subsequently apologized to listeners and to Esper. But today the station retracted the claim, calling it a hoax.

Wilson estimates he has seen at least 130 crop circles since 1996 when, as a graduate student of physics and chemistry at Eastern Michigan University, he first took an interest in them.

Based on his measurements of the electromagnetic energy, he finds higher radiation levels in the center of the matted wheat. He also notes 90 percent of circles appeared near transformers attached to power lines, as with Esper’s, and most are within 300 yards of a body of water.

Wilson told the Daily Press & Argus the phenomenon results from an electrical imbalance. He theorizes irrigation strips ions away from the soil beneath the wheat field, creating a negative electrical charge. Meanwhile, the electricity running through the power line generates a positive electrical charge.

“All it takes is some sort of trigger mechanism – and we don’t know what that trigger mechanism is – but that will start a cascade of electromagnetic energy that puts [the wheat] down,” he said.

William Levengood, another researcher who says he has examined more than 250 crop formations “in detail, with documented measurements” over the past 12 years sums up crop circles as byproducts of atmospheric quirks called ion plasma vortices.

According to the theory he relayed to the Detroit News, gravity pulls these plasma vortices – “huge doughnuts” of microwave energy that form in the ionosphere – to the ground. As they fall, the heated and compressed vortices swirl, creating the complex geometric marks.

Sugden hasn’t ruled out UFOs.

“It’s well-known there’s an association there world-wide,” he said. “People see UFOs around them, that doesn’t mean they make them. They might be looking at them like we are. No one’s ever seen a UFO make one,” he told the Daily Press & Argus.

Crop circles in Northern California (KXTV-TV)

The Michigan crop circles turned up three weeks after the discovery of the largest formation of crop circles ever reported in the United States.

On June 28, farmer Larry Balestra found over a dozen circles created by flattened wheat forming a symmetrical, abstract design more than 100 yards in length on his 80-acre wheat field in Solano, Calif.

12-year-old Pat Kavanagh lives with his family in a house across from the site, and says his big brother, Charles, noticed something out of the ordinary on the night of June 27.

“He was driving home from work late Friday night,” Pat told the San Francisco Chronicle, “and the next morning, he told me that he had seen a large spotlight, like a motorcycle light, in the middle of the field. No flying saucers or spaceships.”

Another purported “witness” to the event, Mark Grant, told KRON-TV he heard strange noises on the overnight:

“It could have been a cat, but it was like a screaming, a whirr. [It] sounded almost like a bigger cat was being cornered or something and was screaming to try to get out of it. I don’t know what it was, but I know it was enough for me to grab my gun and sit there for a while and not go back to sleep for a while.”

The Chronicle reports four teenage boys later claimed they created the circles as a prank, after watching a documentary on them. At a news conference, they described how one boy held a water-ski tow rope from the epicenter as a guide, while the others stomped on boards in a circular pattern. They showed off scratches to their legs they claim were created by the stalks of wheat.

“I’m not an alien,” the paper quotes one 17-year-old as saying. “My friends aren’t, either. We were looking for something to do.”

According to the Chronicle, the confession doesn’t settle the issue for everyone.

“How are some kids going to do it?” questioned Maria Anchante, who brought her two children to look at the circles. “They’re too precise.”

With the first reported crop circle dating back to England in 1647, the phenomenon now has some 250 formations reported worldwide each year, according to data from the Southern Circular Research which monitors circles found in the United Kingdom.

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