Cutting through a predawn mist hovering over a field in the English countryside, two balls of light appear out of seemingly nowhere. The air crackles with the sound of a thousand electronic crickets. Seconds later, a sophisticated geometric formation has been laid in a field, with each stalk of wheat gently bent flat against the earth.
According to Michael Glickman and Patricia Murray, this video of a crop circle in progress is not the product of a talented special effects team but the first evidence that crop circles are something other than the product of prankster field stompers.
Experts in the phenomenon, Glickman and Murray screened this video during a recent presentation in Santa Monica, where they regularly deconstruct their findings and share them with a growing number of enthusiasts.
For the past 20 years, these enormous formations have been appearing in the fields of unwitting farmers--sometimes flattening out as many as 1.5 acres of crop into complex geometric designs. About 150 appear each season (June through August), primarily in Wiltshire, England, where Glickman and Murray spend each summer. But sightings have been recorded in the rice paddies of China, the Sahara, Hungary, Australia, Croatia and the United States.
"The best ones in [America] are in Oregon and Utah," says Murray. Only three have appeared in California in the past few years--most recently in Santa Rosa, according to Murray.
The origin of the circles remains a puzzle. While they do not pretend to have the answers, Glickman and Murray have fun debunking the more ludicrous explanations--helicopter down-drafts, men with rakes. To make things more confusing, the circles are no longer just circles but sophisticated formations, incorporating Mayan and Celtic symbology with quantum physics.
"They've clearly moved in a new design team," quips Glickman.
And who exactly are "they"?
Glickman and Murray don't believe it is little green men, but they do think the formations are a form of communication from another life force or dimension. "We're not here to convince you," says Murray, "although it might be upsetting to your belief system."
Glickman and Murray's next talk is April 27. For information, call (310) 358-6028.