by Jacques F. Vallee
January 03, 2003
Some personal speculations on a fractal
The key to investigating anomalies often lies in asking the right
questions rather than pondering a long list of assumed answers and
fighting over hypotheses. The crop circles that have adorned English
fields in the last couple of decades are a good example of this
principle. Many well-intentioned "paranormal" investigators and New
Age enthusiasts have immediately posited that the circles must be
caused by Aliens, while the general opinion of journalists and
academics tended to state they were the product of hoaxes.
Indeed two retired men were featured in
the world media as the confessed authors of many circles. Over the
years several interested researchers - including this author - have
met with and interviewed self-described "artists" who had generated
some complex crop formations as a new type of display where the
landscape is used as a canvas to shock popular consciousness and
There is no question that at least some
of the formations - including some remarkably complex ones - are
This leaves most of the formations unexplained, especially those
that have appeared in a very short time or under conditions of very
high mathematical accuracy. Drawing a bicycle or a spider in a wheat
field is one thing, the Mandelbrot set of fractal geometry is quite
When sophisticated formations started appearing in the English
countryside several teams of UFO investigators (who came from a
background of soil and trace studies related to the familiar
imprints often left behind after sightings such as Delphos or
Trans-en-Provence) began to take notice. Rather than jumping to
conclusions about the origin and purpose of the formations they drew
up a list of fundamental questions that went like this:
Is there a change in the nature
of the formations over time?
What is it, exactly, that
happens to the vegetation inside the affected areas?
Is there anything special about the
location of the phenomenon?
To seek information on these topics they
established a protocol to gather vegetation samples and sent them to
a number of laboratories for microscopic studies. The results, which
have been discussed at meetings of the Society for Scientific
Exploration and other public events, have never seemed of sufficient
interest for the media (or, indeed, the ufological mainstream) to
take notice, perhaps because they conflicted with the sensational
nature of other hypotheses.
The answers are as follows:
The early formations were simple
circles, then circles with satellites. In later years more and
more sophisticated and precisely-drawn geometric figures
Vegetation is bent because the nodes are exploded. The stalks
are not broken and indeed the plants are often reported to start
growing again. All the significant formations were observed in
an area in close proximity to major research facilities of the
British defense establishment, often in controlled airspace.
So much for Aliens and Druids.
These studies point to the
crop formations as the result of
sophisticated electronic warfare experiments conducted by defense
The answer to question (1) provides
the first clue: If you are trying to calibrate a beam, drawing a
pattern on a wheat field can yield precision information within
the diameter of one stalk over hundreds of feet, an ideal test
The answer to question (2) narrows
down the type of energy that can be responsible, because the
amount of heat radiation that needs to be coupled into one node
of a stalk of wheat to vaporize the water content is a known
quantity, as laboratory tests in France and in the United States
The answer to question (3) points to
the likely authors of the tests.
It is tempting to jump to the conclusion
that some sort of space-based weapon is being developed. I am
reluctant to assume this because of the cost involved. Even if
satellites represent the ultimate platform for such a weapon, which
does not seem obvious to me, the calibration tests can be carried
out far more cheaply from a conventional aircraft. In those cases
when witnesses on the ground have seen formations in the process of
being created, they have described a reddish glow at ground level,
with the vegetation bent over in a matter of minutes.
This would be consistent with a beam
directed at the field from a hovering dirigible, painting a figure
very much in the same way as an electron beam "paints" a digital
image on a computer screen. From conversations I have had with the
investigators involved, the beam would be unlikely to be a simple
infrared beam. Instead a combination of laser and microwave
transmitters may be involved, or a form of maser. Perhaps the
increasingly sophisticated tests are designed, precisely, to
discover optimal combinations.
This leaves several issues pending:
Why don't witnesses see the
supposed hovering platforms if they simply fly over the countryside?
What about the "confessions" of the two retired men who claimed they
made the circles with a two-by-four and a piece of string?
do the experiments continue at a point where the technology seems to
have reached a high level of perfection?
I only have tentative
answers to this new set of questions:
Many years ago I gave a lecture on UFO research at Oxford
University. One of the people attending, a physics faculty member,
told me of an interesting personal experience. His hobby was to fly
gliders over the English countryside. On one occasion, on a bright
afternoon, he was astonished to see his plane reflected in a surface
that appeared to be motionless in the atmosphere. He actually flew
around the object and determined it was a perfectly reflecting
cylinder. It is obvious that such a device would have
"low-observable" characteristics - a visual stealth platform.
What is suspicious about the two older men's "confession" is that it
appeared simultaneously on the front pages of international papers
and on CNN the same day. Any published author familiar with the
difficulty of getting media attention will know that it takes a very
powerful public relations firm to get a story to the front page of
the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, Le Figaro and many
other papers the same day.
Where did the two pensioners get the
kind of clout that would spin their claim around the planet? The
result was instantaneous: The press and, more importantly, most
scientists lost all interest in the story for 10 years.
Why do the tests continue? I admit I have no good answer to this. It
seems farfetched to assume that they have become more sociological
than technological in nature, yet this could provide an explanation.
Soon or later the truth will be known, and it can be used to
discredit the community of paranormal researchers who have rushed to
decipher alien scripts in the formations, or have hypothesized a
return of the Druids, earth lights or messages from Gaia without
first testing the basic physics of the situation. It may also be
that such hypotheses have been coldly planted among the New Age
milieu as part of a psychological warfare experiment, and that the
real nature of the crop formations can thus be hidden from serious
attention for a very long time.
Why would one need to develop such a beam? Destruction of incoming
missiles (or simple confusion of their electronics)
would be an obvious purpose, but several projects are already under
way to produce such weapons, notably at Boeing and other defense
contractors. But we may be wrong in assuming that the beam itself is
a weapon; it might be used simply to guide a much larger amount of
energy (contained plasma, or the fireball created by a nuclear
explosion, for example) to its ultimate destination.
The type of threat that is present in
today's world includes targets that one may not want to blow up, but
rather to fuse inside a fireball. Such a target might be a
biological laboratory, or a chemical factory, where dispersion of a
pathogen is undesirable. Is that what the innocent designs in
English fields are really telling us to get ready for? If so, their
message may be far more ominous that any communication from ETs,
friendly or not.