The Cambridge Mandelbrot Set
The Cambridge Mandelbrot Formation
No one is sure when the first crop circles appeared, but the earliest ones found during the 1980s tended to be quite simple in their form. The patterns that began to be found during the nineties, however, were complex masterpieces of landscape art: rectangles, lines, squares, and fractals sprawling across fields in eerily evocative designs.
This rapid evolution in the artistry of the phenomenon sparked a debate. Some claimed that the new designs were all flashy frauds, created by sensation-seeking hoaxers. Others argued that the new designs had to be the work of extraterrestrials, since they were far too intricate to have been created by teams of human hoaxers working undetected at night.
As the patterns steadily increased in intricacy, a letter writer to the journal New Scientist
questioned how long it would be before a recognizable mathematic symbol such as a Mandelbrot set appeared. A Mandelbrot Set is a bulbous, circular pattern named after the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot who pioneered research into fractal geometry.
As if in answer to this query, a Mandelbrot set circle was found on August 12, 1991 in a field near Cambridge University. To skeptics, the appearance of the circle was an obvious hoax, as it seemed to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fractal research pursued at the nearby University. Die-hard cerealogists, however, had another explanation. They proposed that the thought patterns of the University researchers had somehow been detected and mirrored in the neighboring field by the alien crop-circle makers.
Text copyright © 2002 Alex Boese