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Subject: Crop Circle Radionuclide Study (1/2)

Date: 20 Oct 1994 14:55:12 -0400

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Title: "The Discovery of Thirteen Short-Lived Radionuclides in

Soil Samples from an English Crop Circle"

Sub-title: "I wonder how a couplea inebriated elderly English

pranksters coulda pulled this one off..."

If you have seen this article previously, please ignore it.

Otherwise, you may wish to review it off-line as it is

approximately 800 lines in length.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational

purposes only and should definitely appeal to

the "left-brainers" in the bunch. This ASCII

version of the paper comes without photos.

The authors may be contacted at North American

Circle, Box 61144, Durham, North Carolina, 27715-

1144, USA. Paper completed December 31, 1991.

[Part 1 of 2]

The Discovery of Thirteen Short-Lived Radionuclides in Soil Samples from

an English Crop Circle

Marshall Dudley, Tennelec/Nucleus, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA

Michael Chorost, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

In this paper we report the discovery of thirteen short-lived radio-

nuclides (radioactive isotopes) in soil samples taken from an English crop

circle. We will explain the significance of this discovery, rule out


mundane explanations for it (including hoax), and propose that the radio-

nuclides were created by bombardment of the soil with deuterium nuclei

(also called "deuterons.") We will also consider whether the


present a health hazard and conclude that they probably do not.

A note on terminology: we shall use the terms "isotope", "radioac-

tive isotope", and "radionuclide" more or less interchangeably. Not all

isotopes are radioactive, of course, but the ones we are discussing are.


term "radionuclide" simply means an atom whose nucleus is unstable and

thus radioactive.

I. The Experimental Results

The oval-shaped crop circle (Photo 1) was formed the night of July

31/August 1, 1991, near the town of Beckhampton. 1 On August 5th, we

gathered two soil samples inside it and took a control several dozen feet

away. Their emissions of alpha and beta particles were measured with a

Tennelec/Nucleus LB4000-8 gas flow counter on August 18th. Their emis-

sions proved to be markedly elevated, compared to the control. One

sample (1A) yielded alpha emissions 198% above the control, and beta

emissions 48% above the control. The other sample (1B) yielded alpha

emissions 45% above the control, and beta emissions 57% above the

control. 2

We hypothesized that these anomalies were too large to ascribe to

normal soil variation. This was supported by the fact that two controls

from another formation in the area (formed August 9/10, SU 076 679)

yielded alpha and beta counts within 2% and 4% of each other. By con-

trast, the two samples from within the formation yielded alpha and beta

counts 22% to 45% higher than the averaged controls. In light of our

subsequent discovery of short-lived radionuclides in the Beckhampton oval,

we think it reasonable to believe that the samples' emissions were not due

to normal soil variation.

Our next step was to identify the specific radioactive isotopes

responsible for the elevated emissions. Thus we sent the samples to


er lab for gamma spectroscopy, which was performed on August 26th.

Analysis of the output revealed the presence of thirteen unusual and


lived radionuclides in the samples. Two were found in all three samples.

Eleven were in either 1A or 1B but not in the control. We list these


radionuclides in Table 1.

(An explanatory note: the number following each isotope's name

indicates its atomic weight, i.e. the combined number of protons and

neutrons in the nucleus. It is necessary to specify the atomic weight to

distinguish different isotopes of the same element from each other. For

example, uranium-235 and uranium-238 are different isotopes of uranium,

and have different nuclear properties, though they remain chemically iden-

tical. Most elements have many isotopes, some of which are common and

long-lived, some of which are rare and short-lived. The ones listed in


1 fall in the latter category.)

Table 1. Radionuclides in Samples 1A and 1B But Not In The Control

Radionuclide Abbrev. Present Present Half-life

in 1A in 1B

Lead-203 Pb-203 Probably* No 12.17 days

Europium-146 Eu-146 Yes No 4.6 days

Tellurium-119m Te-119m Yes No 4.7 days

Iodine-126 I-126 Yes No 13.02 days

Bismuth-205 Bi-205 Yes No 15.31 days

Vanadium-48 V-48 Probably No 16.1 days

Protactinium-230 Pa-230 Yes Yes 17.4 days

Ytterbium-169 Yb-169 Yes No 32 days

Yttrium-88 Y-88 Yes Probably 106.6 days

Rhodium-102, Rh-102, Yes No 2.9 years

Rhodium-102m Rh-102m** Probably No 207 days

* "Probably" indicates identification somewhat short of certainty, due to

low activity.

** "m" means "metastable." Rh-102m has the same number of protons

and neutrons as Rh-102, but its nucleus has a different physical


tion. The two isotopes have different half-lives but, for our practical

purposes, the same ancestors and decay products. We thus treat them as a

single isotope.

It is of crucial importance that none of the radionuclides in Table

1 appeared to be in the control, since it helps rule out many mundane

explanations. The control did have long-lived, naturally occurring


clides such as uranium-238 and radium-226, and long-lived artificial


nuclides from Chernobyl such as cesium-137. But all three samples con-

tained these radionuclides, unsurprisingly.

But the presence of the short-lived radionuclides is surprising. To

understand why, the reader should consider their half-lives (see Table 1.)

"Half-life" refers to the amount of time it takes for half of a given


of an element to decay into some other substance. For example, it would

take 17.4 days for half of a given amount of protactinium-230 to decay.

After twice that time, only 25% of the original amount would be left, and

so on. Therefore, any amount of protactinium-230 will diminish to unde-

tectable levels in a matter of weeks. By contrast, naturally occurring


um-238 has a half-life of over four and a half billion years. It thus can


naturally occurring whereas Pa-230 cannot be. Should scientists want to

study short-lived isotopes, they must synthesize them in cyclotrons or

experimental nuclear reactors; they can't just refine them from soil or


Finding them in apparently ordinary soil from rural England is almost as

surprising as finding cut diamonds would be. It is radically out of line


normal expectations.

Before going on with our discussion, we want to reassure readers

that the presence of the short-lived isotopes does not appear to present


health threat. Even though the samples emitted higher percentages of

radiation than the control, their total emissions were far below the


threshold. This is because the radionuclides were present in such low

concentrations that they could only be detected by exquisitely sensitive

equipment. The absolute quantities of the radionuclides were so low that

one would probably be exposed to more radioactivity by eating a banana

(which contains the natural radionuclide potassium-40) than by spending

24 hours in a fairly new crop circle.

Readers should also consider the fact that none of the leading

researchers of the phenomenon have contracted cancer or other radiation-

induced illnesses, despite having spent many hundreds of hours in crop

circles over a decade of study. Not only that, it is far from clear that


tion anomalies are a general property of crop circles. Of the six we


ined for elevated alpha/beta emissions, only two exhibited significant in-

creases. Two others exhibited apparently significantly lower emissions,


the last two exhibited no significant differences. 3 Research in 1992


reveal that only a certain percentage of apparently genuine crop circles

exhibit radiation anomalies at all. This would further reduce cause for


To return to our discussion, where could the radionuclides have

come from? Let us first consider (and reject) eight mundane explanations.

Actually, the absence of the radionuclides in the controls automatically

rules out most of these explanations, but for thoroughness's sake, we will

consider them anyway.

1. We have already established that they cannot be naturally occur-

ring radionuclides, due to their short half-lives.

2. Contamination from the sample vials is unlikely. We used

washed-out plastic pharmaceutical jars. These could have caused some

small degree of chemical contamination, but not radioactive contamination.

3. Technologically unsophisticated hoaxers are out of the question,

since no amount of foot-stomping will form radioactive isotopes in soil.


is not energetic enough by many orders of magnitude; it would be like

trying to compress coal into diamonds by jumping on it.

4. Atomic tests and Chernobyl are untenable as sources, since

these events happened years, not days, ago. But to be absolutely sure, we

checked Table 1 against inventories of the emissions from Chernobyl,

atomic bomb tests, and nuclear installations. None of the radionuclides


Table 1 were found in any of the inventories. Furthermore, we compared

Table 1 to the decay products of each radionuclide in the inventories, and

found no matches. We therefore feel reasonably confident that human-

made radionuclides are not responsible for the anomalies. 4

5. Likewise, we have ruled out radionuclides which are the

products of bombardment by cosmic rays. We checked an inventory of

cosmogenic radionuclides, and none of them were or could have decayed

into anything in Table 1. 5

6. Since the soil samples traveled by air, we felt it necessary to

consider the effect of airport bomb detectors. The sample set under dis-

cussion was airmailed. The other (the one with two controls) was packed

in a carry-on bag. But we can rule out bomb detectors simply because any

detector would have affected the controls as well. In any case, airmail


not screened, and X-ray machines are not energetic enough to create those

isotopes. They can't even fog ordinary film.

7. What about thermal neutron activators? These are experimen-

tal devices being tested in several English airports. They bombard


luggage with neutrons from californium-252 in order to activate and detect

the nitrogen in plastic explosives. But many of the radionuclides, such


Y-88, Bi-205, and V-48, cannot be made by neutron activation. Thus even

a TNA device could not have made all of the radionuclides, even if by some

miracle the samples had gone through one. 6

8. We believe we can rule out deliberate "planting" of radionu-

clides in crop circles by determined hoaxers using hospital low-level


active waste. First, hospital waste simply does not consist of such


clides. Hospitals typically use extremely short-lived isotopes like


um-99m (half-life: six hours) to minimize their patients' exposure to


tion. They are generated from somewhat longer-lived long-lived radionu-

clides like molybdenum-99, which has a half-life of 2.9 days. (Hospitals

typically receive lead-encased shipments of molybdenum-99 three times a

week.) In hospital parlance, the longer-lived isotopes function as "cows"

producing short-lived radionuclides which are "milked" when needed.

Hospital "cows" include none of, and produce none of, the radionuclides in

Table 1. 7 Second, we think it unlikely that hoaxers would have been able

to pour or spray any contaminated solution over the many thousands of

square feet inside a large crop circle. Third, most of Table 1's radionu-

clides are very difficult and expensive to obtain. One must usually get a

license from the government to buy them, which takes months, then

commission a cyclotron to manufacture them, which costs a great deal of

money. Fourth and finally, any such heroic effort for any given formation

would almost certainly be wasted, since only a handful have been tested



Thus we have ruled out natural radionuclides, cosmogenic radio-

nuclides, sample jar contamination, atmospheric nuclear tests, Chernobyl,

airport X-ray detectors, TNA detectors, and contamination with hospital

waste by hoaxers. We must now consider some less mundane possibilities.

II. The Origin of the Radionuclides

Broadly speaking, there are two ways the radionuclides could have

got into the ground. One way is contamination, which would consist of

pouring or spraying a solution or dust containing the radionuclides onto

the ground. We think contamination unlikely for the same reasons a hoax

is unlikely: the difficulty of making the radionuclides prior to placing


in the area, and the almost equal difficulty of applying the contaminated

material over a large but sharply delimited area.

The other way is activation. Activation is the process of bombard-

ing atomic nuclei with energetic subatomic particles. The nuclei capture

the particles and are thus transformed into different nuclei. If the


of neutrons in the nuclei change, they become different isotopes of the

same element. If the number of protons change, they become different

elements altogether. For example, it is theoretically possible to change


into gold by activating it with the right mixture of particles. The only

obstacle, aside from its difficulty, is the fact that it would cost more

than an

ounce of gold to produce an ounce of gold.

There are many different kinds of activation: activation by alpha

particles, activation by protons, activation by deuterons, and so on.


kind will have different effects on a given atomic nucleus. But despite


complexity, activation enables us to produce an elegant hypothesis about

what happened to the soil. We have discovered that the radionuclides in

Table 1 have one and only one common denominator, and that is activation


naturally occurring elements with deuterium nuclei (deuterons.) In a


we shall undertake to prove this, but first it may be helpful to explain


what deuterium nuclei are and what they can do.

Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen. Its nucleus is composed of a

proton and a neutron. (The rest of the atom consists of an electron,


is easily stripped off to leave the ionized, bare nucleus.) Since


hydrogen's nucleus contains only a proton, deuterium's extra neutron enti-

tles it to be called "heavy hydrogen." Deuterium is not a particularly


isotope, since it exists in small quantities in ordinary water. It is a


one, however, since it is used to control neutron emissions in fission


tors, and constitutes much of the fuel in fusion reactors. Of course,


ing these basic facts still tells us nothing about where these deuterium

nuclei (we shall henceforth use the term "deuterons") came from. They

could have come from any number of sources, including ones not yet

known. At the moment, we think it more useful simply to assert that they

existed than to speculate about their origin.

In any case, the deuterons we hypothesize are remarkable not

because they are rare, for they are not, but because they are highly


ic. Most deuterium particles found in nature are relatively unenergetic,

such as the ones in ordinary water. An unenergetic, that is, a


deuteron cannot penetrate and alter atomic nuclei, just as a bullet


tossed at a television set will not penetrate it. An energetic deuteron

is a

different story. A deuteron accelerated to high speeds can penetrate an

atomic nucleus and "activate" it, i.e. convert it into a different isotope


even a different element. Like a bullet fired from a gun, it can


alter the objects it strikes. But the energies would have to be large.


think that to activate atomic nuclei, deuterons would have to possess

energies exceeding one mega-electron-volt (MeV). That means, roughly

speaking, that each deuteron would have to be accelerated by an electrical

field possessing a total potential of not less than one million volts,

which is

a considerable amount of energy.

In this paper, we make no real attempt to figure out what could

have generated energies of that scale, nor do we analyze whether such

energies could arise naturally on planetary surfaces. For the moment, our

goal is only to convince readers that the energies existed. To do that,


need to show that deuteron activation is indeed the most plausible route


production of the radionuclides in Table 1. For if deuterons that


existed, then so did the energies. We will do this by accounting for each

radionuclide in terms of deuteron activation. The following discussion


be fairly long and technical, but we think it necessary to defend our


in some detail, since it is so unusual and surprising. The nontechnical

reader can skim the discussion without trying to understand all of its de-

tails; the important thing to understand is that we are showing that all


radionuclides very likely came from a common source. To put it another

way, we are showing that there is considerable internal consistency to the

data. If we can do this, it will help prove that we have discovered some-

thing significant about the actual physical mechanism which created this

particular crop circle. To be specific, it appears to have emitted

quantities of deuterons, which converted stable isotopes in the soil

into unstable, radioactive ones.

We shall forthwith account for each radionuclide in terms of

deuteron activation. Let us start with the easiest four to explain,


ium-230, iodine-126, rhodium-102, and rhodium-102m. These four radio-

nuclides have one thing in common: they can only be made by activation.

(To say the same thing another way, none are ever generated by radioactive

decay.) What atoms could have been activated to make them, then? There

are several possibilities for each radionuclide (see Table 2.) The


nical reader should not be intimidated by this table. It simply lists


radionuclide in the first column, and each of its possible atomic parents


the second column, along with what would have had to activate them in

parentheses. For example, protactinium-230 can be formed by three differ-

ent activation reactions: a proton impacting a thorium-232 nucleus, a

deuteron impacting a thorium-232 nucleus, or a deuteron impacting a

thorium-230 nucleus. 8

Table 2. Radionuclides Which Are Not Decay Products, And Possible


Parents For Them

Radio- Possible Activation Parents (activating particle in



Pa-230 Th-232(proton), Th-232(deuteron), Th-230(deuteron)

Rh-102, Ru-101(deuteron), Ru-102(proton), Ru-102(deuteron),

Rh-102m Pd-104(deuteron), Rh-103(neutron), Rh-103(deuteron),


I-126 Sb-123(alpha), Te-125(deuteron), Te-126(deuteron),

I-127(gamma), I-127(neutron)

Note that all four radionuclides have one, and only one, common

denominator: deuteron activation. While this does not rule out the other

kinds of activation, it does allow the hypothesis that only one kind was

involved. Let us therefore focus on the parents which can be deuteron-

activated. Table 3 is Table 2 with the non-deuteron-activated parents


out. It also asks an important question: are the remaining possible


naturally occurring? In fact all of them are, which significantly


our hypothesis.

Table 3. Hypothesized Activation Parents Of Pa-230, Rh-102, Rh-102m,

and I-126, Assuming Deuteron Activation

Radio- Hypothesized Naturally Occurring?

nuclide Activation (% of All Naturally Occurring Element)


Pa-230 Th-232 Yes (100%)

Th-230 Yes (decay product of U-234; extremely rare)

Rh-102, Ru-101 Yes (17.1%)

Rh-102m Ru-102 Yes (31.6%)

Pd-104 Yes (11.0%)

Rh-103 Yes (100.0%)

I-126 Te-125 Yes (7.0%)

Te-126 Yes (18.7%)

The percentages denote how much of that element is constituted

by that particular isotope. Most naturally elements are composed of more

than one isotope of that element.

Now let us consider another two radionuclides from Table 1, yttri-

um-88 and europium-146. These are more complicated cases because they

could have been made by decay or activation. Let us first consider the

possibility of decay. Yttrium-88 has one decay parent, zirconium-88.

Zirconium-88 has a half-life of 83.4 days, which means that some of it

should have been left in the sample if it was the source of the


However, the gamma spectroscope detected no zirconium-88; we can thus

rule out decay. Something must have been activated, then, and there is

only one candidate: strontium-88 (82.6% of all naturally occurring


um.) Strontium-88 can be made into yttrium-88 either by deuteron or

proton activation. We infer the common denominator of deuteron activa-


The europium-146 presents a case like yttrium-88's. One of its

decay parents, gadolinum-146 (half-life: 4.6 days) was not found in the

sample. Its other decay parent is terbium-150, but since only .05% of it

decays into europium-146, a fairly large amount of this rare element would

have had to be present in order to be converted into detectable quantities

of Eu-146. Activation is again the more likely possibility. It turns out


europium-146 can be made by proton activation of samarium-147 (15.1%

of all naturally occurring samarium), or by deuteron activation of samari-

um-144 (3.1%.) 9 Our reasoning is summed up in Table 4:

Table 4. Radionuclides with Parents Not Present, And Activation



Radio- Decay Activation Parents Deuteron-Activated

nuclide Parents Parents Naturally


Y-88 Zr-88 (none) Sr-88(proton)

Sr-88(deuteron) Yes (82.6%)

Eu-146 Gd-146 (none) Sm-147(proton)

Tb-150 (only Sm-144(deuteron) Yes (3.1%)

0.05% decays

into Eu-146,

hence unlikely)

Let us move on to consider five more of Table 1's radionuclides,

namely bismuth-205, vanadium-48, tellurium-119m, ytterbium-169, and

lead-203. These have more than one possible decay parent. None of these

possible decay parents were detected, however. There are two reasons for

this. One is that most of the decay parents have such short half-lives


they would not have been detectable by the time the samples were counted.

The other is that there probably were never any of those decay ancestors


the sample to begin with, for all of the radionuclides can be much more

easily accounted for by activation.

Consider the bismuth-205 first. It has two possible decay parents,

astatine-209 (half-life: 5.41 hours) and polonium-205 (half-life: 1.8


Since 99.86% of polonium-205 decays into bismuth-205 whereas only 4.1%

of astatine-209 does, the polonium is the more probable decay parent. But

polonium-205 is still not a very probable parent, partly because it cannot


made by deuteron activation, and partly because its parents can only be

made by activation methods which are far more exotic than the kinds we

have been discussing. On the other hand, bismuth-205 can be made by

deuteron activation of lead-206, which constitutes 25% of all naturally

occurring lead. Thus deuteron bombardment of the soil almost certainly

would have produced some bismuth-205.

Take the vanadium-48 next. Its only decay parent is chromium-48

(half-life: 21.56 hours), but it cannot be made by deuteron activation.


the other hand, vanadium-48 can be made by deuteron activation of titani-

um-48 or chromium-50. The former constitutes 73.7% of all naturally

occurring titanium, and the latter constitutes 4.35% of all naturally


ring chromium.

To keep this paper from growing too tedious, we will not discuss

the tellurium-119m, the ytterbium-169, and the lead-203. However, our

reasoning for them is similar to the two radionuclides just discussed


and is summed up along with them in Table 5.

Table 5. Radionuclides with Short-Lived (And Not Present) Decay Parents,

And Activation Possibilities

(NPDA="not producible by deuteron activation")

Radio- Decay Activation Parents Deuteron-Activated

nuclide Parents Parents Naturally


Bi-205 Po-205(NPDA) Pb-206(deuteron) Yes (25%)


V-48 Cr-48(NPDA) Ti-48(deuteron) Yes (73.7%)

Cr-50(deuteron) Yes (4.35%)



Te-119m I-119(NPDA) Sb-121(deuteron) Yes (57.3%)



Yb-169 Lu-169(NPDA) Tm-169(deuteron) Yes (100%)


Pb-203 Bi-203(NPDA) Tl-203(deuteron) Yes (29.5%)

This concludes our discussion of the 11 radionuclides of Table 1.

We sum up our analysis in Table 6, which shows how we accounted for the

radionuclides as producible by deuteron activation of naturally occurring

stable elements in the soil.

Table 6. Summary. Most Likely Parents of the Radionuclides in Table 1

(Assuming Deuteron Activation)

Radio- Present Believed Are Activation

nuclide in Control? Activation Parent (s) Naturally

Parent(s) Occurring?

Lead-203 No Tl-203 Yes

Europium-146 No Sm-144 Yes

Tellurium-119m No Sb-121 Yes

Iodine-126 No Te-125, Te-126 Yes

Bismuth-205 No Pb-206 Yes

Vanadium-48 No Ti-48, Cr-50 Yes

Protactinium-230 No Th-230, Th-232 Yes

Ytterbium-169 No Tm-169 Yes

Yttrium-88 No Sr-88 Yes

Rhodium-102, No Ru-101, Ru-102, Yes

Rhodium-102m Pd-104, Rh-103

Our analysis was not quite exhaustive. We cut through a maze of

isotopic parents in the belief that the simplest solution was the most


to be correct. We could be wrong: some of these radionuclides could

theoretically be end-products of a cascade of decayings of extremely


and short-lived isotopes. Or proton activation could have produced some

of the radionuclides while deuteron activation produced the others. But

we think these possibilities unlikely. The former requires much greater

complexity to arrive at the same result; the latter would probably have

produced radionuclides which could only be made by proton activation, yet

we have found none.

III. Loose Ends

No item of exploratory scientific research can answer all questions

and settle all difficulties. Ours is no exception. Let us discuss what


ends need to be cleared up with further research. (Nontechnical readers

may wish to skip this section, since it is not central to our analysis.)


first loose end is the existence of two unusual radionuclides in all three

samples, including the control. They are listed in Table 7.

Table 7. Radionuclides Present in 1A, 1B, And The Control

Radio- Present Present Present in

nuclide in 1A? in 1B? Control? Half-life

Gold-194 Yes Yes Yes 1.65 days

Thallium-202 Yes Yes Yes 12.2 days

The gold-194 is puzzling, since it has such a short half-life--less

than two days. Either enormous quantities of it were initially present


the samples were collected, in which case the field would have been ex-

tremely radioactive, or something long-lived is continuously generating it

by decay. The latter seems the likelier case. Gold-194 can be generated


the decay of mercury-194, which has a half-life of 520 years. The


194 could have been created by a two-step activation process, whereupon

the deuterons activated platinum-194 (32.9% of all natural platinum) to

create gold-194, which was itself activated to make the mercury-194. The

deuteron stream would have to last long enough, and be intense enough, to

activate isotopes which had just been created by that same stream.

Assuming this is plausible, how do we explain the presence of the

gold-194 in the control? Consider the fact that the mercury-194 has a


life of 520 years. If the field had had crop circles in earlier years,


mercury-194 could have been spread around the field by wind, erosion, and


There are other possibilities, of course: the Chernobyl tables could

be incomplete, or a nearby reactor might have emitted some mercury-194.

Further research is needed to clear up the question.

Our analysis is similar for the other radionuclide, thallium-202. It

does not appear to be a product of Chernobyl or atomic tests. Its only

decay parent is lead-202, which has a half-life of 53,000 years. Lead-202

can be made by deuteron activation of thallium-203 (29.5% of all naturally

occurring thallium.) Thus the thallium-202 could also be a remnant from

earlier crop circles in the area, or an unlisted product of nuclear


The second loose end is why none of the hypothesized parents are

abundant elements. If trace elements like titanium and samarium were

activated, it seems that abundant elements like silicon and oxygen should

have been also. To answer this question, we took each element which

composes more than 1% of the earth's crust and found its most likely

deuteron-activation products. It turns out that they are either stable,


which case they would not have been detected by our instruments, or they

have such short half-lives that they would have decayed off before


as Table 8 shows.

Table 8. Most Likely Deuteron Activation Products of Elements Which

Compose More Than 1% Of The Earth's Crust

Element Abundance Most Likely Product's Half-Life

in Crust Product

Oxygen-16 46.6% Flourine-17 1.075 minutes

Silicon-28 27.72% Phosphorus-29 2.5 minutes

Aluminum-27 8.13% Silicon-29 Stable

Iron-56 5% Cobalt-58 9.15 hours

Calcium-40 3.63% Scandium-42 1.027 minutes

Sodium-23 2.83% Magnesium-25 Stable

Potassium-39 2.59% Calcium-41 Stable*

Magnesium-24 2.09% Aluminum-26 6.3 seconds

* Calcium-41 has a half-life of 1.03 x 10 to the 5th years. It is thus


truly stable. But it does not emit gamma rays, so it would not have

been detected by our instruments.

The iron-56 deserves further scrutiny. Deuteron activation of

iron-56 can also produce the radionuclides manganese-54 (half-life: 312

days) and cobalt-57 (half-life: 72 days.) But these would require levels


energy perhaps higher than required to generate most of the observed

radionuclides. Our data did show peaks in the region of manganese-54, but

not at sufficient resolution to permit positive identification. Clearly,


1992 we will have to look carefully for activation products of the soil's

abundant elements. Prompt testing will greatly facilitate the search.

Table 8 shows something else: the soil could well be dangerously

radioactive for a short time after the formation is made. Since elements

like silicon and oxygen (which exists as oxides bound up in the soil) are


abundant, their activation products would also be abundant. They would

emit a large aggregate quantity of radiation, albeit for only a few

minutes or

hours. Out of simple prudence, then, fulltime researchers who enter a


circle the morning after it is made should carry a sensitive survey meter


Geiger counter is one kind of survey meter, though we would use other

kinds) or an electrostatic film badge. Given the low amounts of radiation

we think we are dealing with, these tools will have to be highly


and their users will have to be well trained; anything less would risk


ing nothing but false negatives. These instruments should reveal no cause


alarm, but if they do, we shall adopt more cautious sampling procedures.

Additional loose ends derive from the fact that the size of our

sample set is too small to show that short-lived radionuclides are part


parcel of the crop circle phenomenon. However, we think our findings are

so suggestive that further research is emphatically warranted. If one


a single bucket of rock from a mine and finds gold in it, one is well


in doing further digging.

We also need to take more controls in 1992. For this paper, two

or three would have been better than one. Even so, the radionuclides are

so unusual that finding them anywhere is cause for interest. The


between our samples and single control is qualitative in an absolute, not


statistical, sense. The case would warrant further investigation even


a control.

In addition, our interpretation of the data from the gamma spec-

trometer needs to be confirmed by similar findings from independent

laboratories. Spectroscopic data is extremely complex, and its


tion is inevitably a matter of judgment. But our interpretation of the


has convinced several of our associates in Oak Ridge. We believe it will

stand; and we would be glad to show the raw data to those who wish to

examine it for themselves.

IV. Where Might The Deuterons Have Come From?

So far, our hypothesis of a stream of deuterons suggests a possible

physical concomitant of whatever flattens the plants, but it provides


no clues as to the actual cause of the phenomenon. We can only speculate

on several possibilities.

One possible cause is the naturally occurring "plasma vortex"

hypothesized by some meteorologists. 10 The question is: is this


cal (and never experimentally detected) plasma vortex theoretically


of generating the requisite number and density of deuterons? Obviously,

this is a question requiring very detailed analysis, which we lack the


tise to perform. While we doubt that the lower atmosphere can naturally

generate deuterons with energies sufficient to activate atomic nuclei, the

possibility cannot be ignored.

If our research in 1992 demonstrates the presence of short-lived

radionuclides in many crop circles, the meteorologists will have the


of proving that their hypothesized plasma vortex can produce them. Also,

since the radionuclides have appeared in at least one complex formation,

the meteorologists would have the additional burden of proving that their

plasma vortices can produce such shapes. So far, they have proven neither

assertion. In fact, they have given up on the latter one. For example,

Terence Meaden has recently asserted, "It is obvious that most, perhaps


complex sets of circles seen in Britain in recent years have been made by

hoaxers." 11 Our data suggests otherwise.

The only other cause we can think of is a deliberately directed

stream of deuterons. It would be worthwhile to calculate the energy re-

quired for such a stream, given the radionuclides observed, their


tion, and the size of the area in which they are found. The ballpark


might help us evaluate theories of intentional manufacture.

However, hypothesizing a stream of deuterons still does not ex-

plain how the plants are actually flattened. The deuterons could not


enough force to press the plants to the ground, for if they did, the


would also be burned to a crisp. However, perhaps they heat the plants to

some extent. Since it appears from W.C. Levengood's observations of plant

cells that the plants are strongly but briefly heated, it might be

possible to

compare calculations of the heat experienced by the plants with the heat

theoretically generated by the deuteron stream. 12 Perhaps the deuterons

heat the plants just enough to make them pliable, while some other force

bends them to the ground in the intricate patterns often observed. 13 Or

perhaps the deuterons are not directly necessary to the flattening process


all, but are merely a concomitant of the overall physical process.

V. Conclusion

Our results point suggestively toward some radioactive source

which exposes the soil to a stream of energetic deuterium nuclei. To test

this hypothesis, we hope to perform these same tests on multiple crop cir-

cles next summer. 1992's radiological research program should include the

following aspects:

* Locating of financing for research, both from American and English


* Use of survey meters and film badges to test for health hazards and

possibly to identify formations most deserving of detailed analysis

* Harvesting of multiple samples and controls from each crop circle

* Harvesting of samples across circle-less fields, to assess soil homo-


* Enlistment of U.K. labs with radiological equipment or, failing that,

transportation of equipment from the U.S., or mailing samples overnight

back to the U.S.

* Obtaining permits where needed for soil and plant importation

* Coordination with daily aerial surveillance, in order to sample crop

circles promptly after they are made

* Regularization of sampling techniques

* Training, where needed, in the methods of analysis; and

* Improvement of the network for exchanging information.

The trail has grown hot, literally as well as figuratively. We must

follow it wherever it may lead.


The authors wish to thank the following people for their help and advice:

Kevin Folta, Tsahi Gozani, Conrad Knight, Jurgen Kronig, W.C. Leven-

good, David Chioni Moore, Chris Rutkowski, Dennis Stacy, and George

Wingfield. The secondary author's fieldwork in England was supported by

a grant from the Fund for UFO Research.

Captions (Photo not included in file)

Photo 1. The "fish" or "long oval" formation near Beckhampton. Accord-

ing to John F. Langrish, it was formed on July 31/August 1, 1991, at SU

0865 6810. Photo courtesy of Jurgen Kronig.


(1) According to John Langrish, the Beckhampton oval's location was

SU 0865 6810. (Eight-figure Ordnance survey references are accurate to 10

meters.) The date given in the text differs from the one given in a

preproduction version of Michael Chorost's report, The Summer 1991 Crop

Circles (Fund for UFO Research, in press.) The change was made due to


authoritative data supplied by Langrish.

(2) Variations above 10% were considered significant. The data and

statistics may be obtained from the secondary author at North American

Circle, P.O. Box 61144, Durham, North Carolina, 27715-1144 USA.

(3) The six cases are discussed at length in The Summer 1991 Crop


The Data Emerges (Fund for UFO Research, Mt. Rainier, MD, in press.)

A condensed version of the report was printed in the Mufon UFO Journal,

October 1991, pp. 3-15.

(4) The inventory of Chernobyl emissions is in "Cleanup of Large Areas

Contaminated As A Result Of A Nuclear Accident," Technical Reports Series

no. 300, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 1989, p. 104. The

inventory of widely distributed human-made radonuclides is in


Radiation Measurements, National Council on Radiation Protection and

Measurements Report no. 50, Washington, D.C., 1976, pp. 12-14.

(5) "Environmental Radiation Measurements" (see note 4), 11.

(6) We checked these facts with the primary designer of the device, Dr.

Tsahi Gozani of SAIC in California.

(7) We checked these facts with Conrad Knight, a Radiation Safety

officer at Duke University Medical Center.

(8) All of the decay/activation parents and products cited were

obtained from Edgardo Browne and Richard B. Firestone's "Table of


Isotopes." New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1986.

(9) The Browne and Firestone reference does not show a deuteron activation

which yields Eu-146, but another reference, the Gerhard Erdtmann one,

does. We believe that one is accurate, because Eu-146 should be


from a Sm-144 (d, nothing) reaction. Again, we infer deuteron activation.

(Gerhard Erdtmann, "The Gamma Rays of the Radonuclides: Tables for Applied

Gamma-Ray Spectrometry." New York: Verlag Chemie, 1979.)

(10) See, for example, "Circles From the Sky", ed. Terence Meaden.


Press, 1991.

(11) "Analysis and Interpretation of the Luminous-Tube Phenomenon."


Meaden. Journal of Meteorology v. 16 no. 162 (October 1991): 276-278.

(12) See Chorost, The Summer 1991 Crop Circles, Section IIIB (see note 3.)

(13) See, for example, Stanley Morcom's "Field Work: The Pictogram at

East/West Kennett Long Barrows." The Circular vol 2 no. 1 (March 1991):

10-13. Also Circular Evidence (Delgado and Andrews, Bloomsbury, 1989),

pp. 121-131, and Circles From The Sky, pp. 46, 153-158.