Video: How To Make Crop Circles


Spring has sprung, crops are growing, and it’s time once again for everyone’s favorite landscape art – crop circles!

The year is already starting off well with some lovely examples in England, Italy and other countries. Numbers will increase in the summer as crops grow and provide a better palette. Crop Circle Connector keeps a running tally so you can see what’s up in the world of cereology, the study of, well, you know.

Now before anyone starts filling the comments section with wild-eyed tales of UFOs and Earth energies, let me rain on your parade by saying that crop circles were debunked a long time ago. The Circlemakers group has taken credit for many of them and they have even posted a beginner’s guide to making crop circles. There are also plenty of how-to videos, like this one commissioned by a British tabloid. It will show you, step-by-step, how to annoy farmers and entrance crystal-clutching New Agers.

This video was made way back in 2001, yet still there are superstitious dupes paranormal investigators who insist that while many are faked, some crop circles “cannot be explained.” As I noted in an earlier post, that’s like saying that while we have documentation for the construction of most medieval cathedrals, there are no blueprints or payrolls for other cathedrals and therefore they must have been made by aliens.

But who cares? Crop circles are beautiful and fun. It raises awareness of the natural landscape. Even better, the crops can still be harvested. No wheat was harmed in the making of this video. Now get out there and start circling!

Urquhart Castle: The Other Attraction On Loch Ness

castle, Loch Ness
Today the Olympic torch is crossing Loch Ness by boat. While locals are hoping for Nessie to make an appearance, one attraction will definitely be on view: the spectacular Urquhart Castle.

This castle sits on Strone Point, a headland jutting out into the loch. It’s unclear when the castle was built. It was certainly there by the 13th century but there may have been a fort there as far back as the 6th century. It was besieged many times over the years in the countless wars with the English and between rival Scottish rulers. It survived these fights until 1692, when the walls were smashed by supporters of the English King William III so it wouldn’t fall into the hands of the rival Jacobites.

Although the castle became useless as a place for defense, much of the layout is clearly visible. You can see where the bakers made bread, where the blacksmith fixed swords and where the residents lived. You can even delve into the dungeon to see the miserable conditions of the prisoners. The most impressive and best-preserved portion is the tower, which rises five stories above the ruins.

%Gallery-157771%From the tower you get a sweeping view of the Loch. Scotland is a beautiful place for photography and its many lochs reflect the mood of its ever-changing light. On overcast days the loch looks gloomy and forbidding, and you could well imagine a monster lurking in its depths. Then the sun will break through and sparkle across the waters like a scattering of gold coins. Dawn and dusk are great times to take photos, when the sun is low and casts a rich golden hue across the water and shore. The castle is lit up at night and makes for a nice shot as well. Check out the gallery for more views of the fantastic castle.

Those wanting to see the Loch Ness Monster should be reassured that the castle is one of the main sites for spotting the mysterious beastie. Perhaps there are secret tunnels underneath the castle where the monster guards a medieval treasure, or perhaps it’s because so many people visit Urquhart castle and gaze out across the waters hoping for a glimpse of the unknown.

[Photo courtesy Baasir Gaisawat]

The International UFO Museum And Research Center At Roswell, New Mexico

UFO
Something strange happened in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

Rancher William Brazel found a bunch of debris in the desert that he couldn’t identify. He described it in the July 9, 1947, issue of the Roswell Daily Record as a “large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.”

The paper reported that Brazel estimated that all together the debris “weighed maybe five pounds. There was no sign of any metal in the area, which might have been used for an engine, and no sign of any propellers of any kind, although at least one paper fin had been glued onto some of the tinfoil. There were no words to be found anywhere on the instrument, although there were letters on some of the parts. Considerable scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in the construction.”

Not sure what he had, he contacted the Roswell Army Air Field, which sent two men out to gather the material. The local base commander then released a statement that a “flying disk” had been found. This gained national publicity. America was in the midst of its first wave of flying saucer sightings and this fit the bill. The next day, General Ramey of the Eighth Air Force made an official statement that it was a downed weather balloon.

%Gallery-155021%The incident was soon forgotten, even by most Ufologists, until in 1978 a UFO researcher started interviewing locals who claimed to have seen the debris and said it was part of an extraterrestrial craft. Accounts of alien bodies and a massive cover up also came to light. The stories snowballed and Roswell became the world’s most famous UFO crash.

The International UFO Museum and Research Center is dedicated to studying the UFO phenomenon in general and the Roswell crash in particular. It was founded by Walter Haut, who was the press officer at the air field when the crash occurred, and Glenn Dennis, who claims to have seen alien bodies taken from the crash. The museum displays a huge collection of photos, documents, and eyewitness accounts related to the Roswell incident and other sightings.

The result is a detailed history of the UFO craze from its beginnings up to the present day, told in newspaper stories, photos and eyewitness accounts. You can spend a lot of time here studying the various sightings, and you’ll come away with the realization that an awful lot of people think they’ve seen something strange in the sky.

I’m an agnostic in all things. Although I’ve investigated all sorts of paranormal occurrences ranging from ghosts to visitations from Purgatory, I generally come down on the side of interested skepticism. While this museum didn’t decrease my skepticism, it was highly entertaining and certainly an excellent resource for anyone interested in the UFO mystery. They get extra points for pointing out some parts of their photographs that aren’t UFOs, and showing how observers can often mistake man-made objects or natural phenomena for extraterrestrial craft.

Besides the museum, several local shops get in on the action selling alien memorabilia and there are numerous UFO tours. Roswell also hosts an annual UFO conference, held this year from June 28-July 1.

The enduring publicity over the Roswell incident, both in New Mexico and around the world, has led to numerous statements by the government that nothing happened. In 1994, the Air Force stated that the debris actually came from a secret project called Project Mogul, which attempted to use strings of high-altitude balloons, or a single giant balloon, to spy on Soviet nuclear activities.

While this prompted some UFO researchers to change their minds and state that no UFO crashed at Roswell, it only encouraged others. If the government didn’t tell the whole truth at first, they reasoned, they could be lying now. Personally, I have a hard time believing that an alien spacecraft (made of tinfoil and sticks, no less) crashed in the New Mexico desert. Sure, considering the vastness of the universe it’s unlikely that we’re alone, but that doesn’t mean aliens are coming here.

I see something more insidious going on with all of this. If the government was lying to divert attention from secret projects, it could be still doing this. Perhaps the Ufologists should stop watching the skies and use their research skills and tenacity to uncover secret activities going on right here on Earth, such as government corruption, secret military operations, support of nasty dictators (Saddam Hussein, for example) and the undermining of civil liberties. By chasing phantoms, the Ufologists are playing into the hands of those have the real power in this world, and who have a lot more sinister things to hide than evidence of extraterrestrials.

[Photo courtesy Kimble Young]

Top ten lake monsters (besides Nessie)

lake monstersHere at Gadling we’ve reported a lot of news about the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie gets so much media attention that one might think its Scottish loch is the only body of water haunted by a mysterious and almost certainly fictitious creature.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Lake monsters are everywhere. Here are ten of the most interesting, most of which inhabit lakes that are easy to get to, so you can start your own investigation.

The Lough Ness Monster. A young English upstart in Loughborough, Leicestershire, recently tried to steal the limelight from its Scottish cousin by eating some ducks.

Nahuelito. This critter lives in Nahuel Huapi Lake, Patagonia, Argentina. As you can see from this alleged photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, it looks a bit like Nessie. Cryptozoologists, the people who study such things, say both may be plesiosaurs. These swimming dinosaurs supposedly died out 65 million years ago. Interestingly, a plesiosaur fossil was discovered at Loch Ness in 2003.

Isshii. Japan’s most famous lake monster lives in Lake Ikeda, where it has been spotted numerous times in the past thirty years. According to the website Pink Tentacle, it’s a super-fast swimmer and once had a run-in with the U.S. military. The story goes that in 1961, an American jet crashed in the vicinity of the lake. The military used sonar to look for it and spotted a large object moving under the water. Divers on the lake floor spotted the creature and said it nearly attacked them. Or so the story goes. Sounds to me like someone was drinking too much saké.

The Lake Tianchi Monster. In an alpine lake straddling the border of China and North Korea there supposedly lives a community of up to 20 lake monsters. The first recorded sighting dates to 1903, when something resembling a giant buffalo threatened three people by the lakeside. One guy shot it six times before it gave out a ear-splitting roar and returned to the water.

%Gallery-141876%The Brosno Dragon. This beastie lives in Lake Brosno, near Andreapol in western Russia. Some people dismiss the idea of a monster living in the lake and say it’s really a giant mutant beaver, as if this make more sense. Whatever it is, it’s a patriot. It once gobbled up an invasion force of Mongols, and in World War Two snatched a Luftwaffe plane right out of the air. Pravda wrote a long article about the Brosno Dragon, so it must exist.

The Varberg Fortress Moat Monster. The 13th century castle at Varberg reportedly has a monster in its moat. It hasn’t been seen much, despite the castle being a major tourist attraction and home to a youth hostel. Some lucky visitors did get to see it in 2006, however, and described it as brown, furless, and with a 16-inch tail. It was summertime, so perhaps it came out of hibernation to check out the sights at the nearby nudist beach.

The Lagarfljóts Worm. Iceland is a land filled with legends. Many Icelanders still believe in trolls and other supernatural creatures, so it’s no surprise they have a lake monster too. In the glacial lake of Lagarfljót dwells a strange creature said to be more than 300 feet long. According to the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, the worm was first mentioned in the Icelandic Annals of 1345 and sighting its hump rising out of the water was a sign that good news was sure to follow.

Chipekwe or Emela-ntouka. Called by many names in many African languages, this monster of Central Africa is known as the “killer of elephants” by the pygmies, who are the people who have the most legends about it. The creature dwells in swamps, lakes, and rivers, anywhere the water is shallow, and looks a bit like a rhino. Several pith-helmeted white explorers have gone out to hunt for it, but never found anything. Some say it’s really a spirit instead of a monster, but until someone blasts it with an elephant gun, we’ll never know.

Bunyip. The Australian Aborigines say the bunyip can be found all over Australia. It dwells in all types of water, not just lakes, so you better be careful. Unlike most of the critters on our list, the bunyip can be downright aggressive. Descriptions of the bunyip vary from a big canine to a giant starfish. Like the Chipekwe, it seems to be more of a spirit than an actual living monster, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Its booming voice is a signal to run, lest you get eaten like the poor fellow shown in the image gallery.

Ogopogo. Native Americans say this “lake demon” has been around a long time. It lives in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada, and looks much like Nessie. Like the Scottish monster, it’s created an entire tourism industry around it, along with groups that study it. Your typical serpent with wavy humps coming out of the water, it’s said to be about 50 feet long. A recent video of the creature went viral on the Internet and can be seen here. To me it looks like a pair of logs stuck close to shore. Perhaps Ogopogo likes to play fetch.

And yes, I didn’t mention the Lake Champlain Monster. I wanted to focus on the less famous critters. Heck, I once saw someone wearing a Lake Champlain Monster t-shirt in Ethiopia.

Fish farmer snaps photo of Nessie

NessieLoch Ness has been getting into the news a lot lately. There’s been a rise in sightings this year, Nessie was photographed in July, and a UFO was spotted over Loch Ness last month.

Now a new photo of Nessie has emerged. You’ll have to go to the link to see it because we don’t get a photo budget here at Gadling and Nessie photos don’t come cheap. Instead you get to marvel at this fine Lego Nessie photographed by David R. Tribble. At least it’s exactly what it looks like.

The “real” monster was snapped by commercial fish farmer Jon Rowe when he got out his camera to take a picture of a rainbow over Loch Ness. Rowe says he, “noticed this really large dark shape in the loch with two humps that were barely out of the water. . .Almost as soon as I took the shot the shape disappeared under the water and out of sight.”

Personally I’m skeptical, and so are the experts. The leading cryptozoology website Cryptomundo opines that the image shows a pair of water birds diving for prey. Adrian Shine of the Loch Ness Project says the same thing.

Rowe insists that they weren’t birds, however, so the mystery continues.

At least all this activity is putting to rest the idea that Nessie is extinct.