11 September 2006

Crop Circles and Geometry Lessons

So, it’s been done before, but I was going to write a bit about crop circles – I spent the weekend sick in bed and indulged in two television shows about them. When I started looking online, I got bogged down in all the theories; I’m not going to recount them here – there’s so many – but I found a website that really spins my top. Zef Damen has created a site with step-by-step recipes for making many of the crop circles that have appeared in the last decade. (He also has instructions for making a working clock out of Legos.)

Damen has not included my very favorite crop circle design, but I found a very helpful report to get me started on my own recipe. This crop circle appeared in West Stowell, Wiltshire County UK on 14-15 July 2000. It was 280 feet in diameter.

Not so much my inclination, but Andrew Glassner has created an algorithmic language for making crop circle-like designs, and has tested them out using a pressure washer in parking lots.

When I get back to teaching, my geometry students are going to get a photo of a crop circle, a compass and straightedge, and an hour to write a game plan. Then we’ll head for the soccer field!

(For the record: I think some crop circles are human-made, but some are not. I believe that even the experts can't really tell the difference, except for obvious hoaxes. I don't believe in aliens, UFOs, or the channeling of psychic energy. I tend to lean towards the electro-magnetic/plasma vortex family of theories. And I hope this mystery gets figured out in my lifetime!)

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