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The 2002 'Alien Face' Formation

Paul Vigay takes a preliminary look at the 2002 'Alien Face' formation.

aerial photo

Click here to see the original entry in
The International Crop Circle Database
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On Thursday 15th August 2002 I first heard that there had been an 'impressive' new formation discovered just to the west of Winchester (Hampshire, UK). Lucy Pringle immediately flew over the formation, confirming its location at Crabwood Farm, between Pitt and Sparsholt (SU 445295) and emailed me some initial photos - which as you can see are immediately recognisable as an 'alien face' with a circular grid containing some kind of binary data sequence.
The initial style of construction is very similar to that of the Chilbolton formations of last year (see my report on the Arecibo formation). Indeed, as the crow flies, the location is only about 8½ miles to the southeast of last years Chilbolton formations - and the similarity doesn't end there. Immediately to the east of the formation are some more radio masts.

First Impressions

My first impression of the formation was that it was incredibly elaborate - again, how you would construct a 2D pattern on the ground in order to give a 3D visualisation from the air is very impressive by anybody's standard. However, I couldn't help 'feeling' that it's an elaborate and well constructed hoax. I just didn't get any initial 'wow' factor from it, despite it's undeniably impressive design. This is an entirely subjective viewpoint, but I'm sure people who have been into crop circles and witnessed particular designs get an immediate 'hunch' or 'knowing' about certain formations - difficult to describe, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

I don't feel happy with the design of the face. It feels too Hollywood or 'Star Trek' to my personal liking, which I don't think is indicative of the true circlemaking force. In fact as soon as I saw the image of the alien, the first thought that came into my head was that I recognised it from somewhere. Pondering over this for a few moments made me remember some old episodes of Star Trek - the original series, with Captain Kirk etc. In one episode (called the Corbomite Manoeuvre) a character known as 'Balok' from the I.S.S.Fesarius constructed a fake dummy for communicating with the U.S.S.Enterprise. This dummy was actually featured on the end credits of several episodes and was the first thing that entered my mind when I saw the crop formation.

Corbomite from Star Trek

Having located a picture of the Balok dummy though, I'm not entirely convinced, but there is a vague resemblance. It doesn't strike me as representative of the typical 'grey' alien either though. It almost has a 'too malevolent' expression about it, and the typical image of a grey has large eyes with no visible pupil.

Either way, there is something 'not right' about the alien itself.

From a pure design point of view, the frame around the alien is not that accurate. There is too little space on the left hand side of the face, and the bottom corners are not 90 degree angles. This makes it slightly sloppy from an artistic point of view. However, something like this could theoretically be constructed with the aid of computer controlled GPS equipment - so it's possibly not as difficult to produce as it initially looks. Also, a helicopter was heard by a local witness at 2am on the night the formation appeared. This could indicate an organised disinformation effort.

The 'circular grid' design looks interesting though and the inquisitive, enquiring side of my brain took over and thought "this might be worth investigating". Because I'm personally unimpressed with the formation from a crop circle research point of view (it's very impressive from a design and construction point of view though!) I was aware of wasting my time investigating what I believe to be a distraction from the real circlemakers. However, not being one to pass by an intriguing looking code, and also because I endeavour to keep my research impartial from personal opinion, I decided to investigate further....

The Circular Grid

My first thoughts on the circular grid pattern was that it was similar to the old Victorian disc music boxes, which consisted of metal discs with notches on them which struck a pin as they rotate. This would produce musical notes. In fact, the music box appears to have been introduced by Antoine Favre, a Swiss watchmaker, in 1796. However, the disc player was introduced in the latter part of the 19th century and were the predecessor of phonographs and modern records. I wondered what the 'notes' in the formation would sound like if I wrote some computer software to simulate a Victorian music box and 'play' the formation as a notched disc. This might be the topic of a future research project, especially as it fits in with my ongoing research into musical tones and harmonics.

On closer examination of the 'disc' (more detailed photos coming soon), it would appear to be a single spiral of 'pixels' expanding out from the centre, rather like the groove on a vinyl record. The obvious assumption to make here is that it contains another binary code sequence, like the Arecibo message formation. However, although the disc looks familiar to me (perhaps I've subconsciously remembered seeing something similar in a science fiction movie?) I've been unable to locate a close match in my reference library.

There are a number of possible avenues to research in order to decode any data which may be contained within the disc. It could be some form of cymatic mandala. I've been researching cymatics since about 1992 but for those who aren't familiar with this aspect of my research, I hope to upload some more articles on this topic in the near future. Cymatics, or the study of music and its shape-forming potential was begun around 1800 when the German acoustical physicist and amateur musician Ernst Chladni began experimenting with sand on vibrating metal plates. He discovered that by sprinkling sand on a round metal plate and then drawing a violin bow vertically along the plate's rim, the musical tone produced would move the sand particles into mandala shapes.

Chladni figure
Chladni's 'Cymatic' diagrams

Another area of interest is that of planetary grid systems. I've also been interested in this research for some years and was intrigued to find out that there is actually an international harmony based upon a music of planetary grid systems. This is currently the subject of some ongoing research projects I'm involved with, but suffice to say, after a brief search through my reference library I located a diagram of a planetary grid system based upon a Lambdoma Matrix originating at one of the poles.
Again, this looks as if it might be worth researching further.

lambdoma figure
Diagram showing a Lambdoma Matrix

Thinking in 3D again!

Those of you who are aware of my previous research (see articles in Enigma will know that during the past 12 years I have been investigating three dimensional geometry systems based around crop formation designs. One of the first things I do when examining new ideas and concepts is to 'think outside norm' and examine things from all angles, indeed all dimensions. To this end, I can also visualise the circular grid portion of this crop formation in terms of a three dimensional sphere. If you then superimpose a binary sequence over the surface of this sphere, you start to get into some very interesting research; The Entropy of Black Holes.

bekenstein figure

According to theoretical physics the amount of information that can be hidden in a black hole is finite and not infinite as some scientists believe. We can actually start to calculate the amount of information stored in a black hole by a single, clear number, or the so-called entropy of a black hole. This entropy is a pure number and is known as the Bekenstein "nat number" and is exactly the surface area of the horizon of the black hole, divided by four times the elementary quantum of area. This allows us to find an amazing connection between pure mass - black hole mass - and information.

This is all quite advanced research, and I hope to expand upon this topic, in laymans terms, in future articles - but for the time being, it's a taster of current research projects and thinking processes.

Indeed, irrespective of the origin of the crop circle, we again find ourselves questing for knowledge and information that is outside the normal paradigm of everyday life. This is what I continue to find amazing about the message in the crop formations. What other subject enables you to wake up in the morning and within minutes can inspire you to learn about Victorian music boxes, cymatics, planetary grid systems and theoretical physics concerning black holes?

Again, crop circles have taught us about things we may have had no previous knowledge of, and certainly didn't learn about at school - and if we did, it definitely wasn't so much fun! Crop circles are a fun and inspirational guide to seeking and learning new information.

I hope this brief article has given you some food for thought and perhaps helped trigger some other thought processes inside your brain. I hope to expand on a number of the ideas and theories shared here, but in the meantime, wanted to write something quickly in order to put down some of my initial thoughts and ideas regarding this particular formation. It may not be from what I could call the 'genuine circlemakers', but none the less, I'm sure it has a wealth of new knowledge it can teach us - if we remain open-minded and enquiring.

Paul Vigay, 17th August 2002

Photos: (21st Aug 2002)

I visited the formation on Sunday 18th August and took a large selection of photos from ground level. These are available on a separate page.

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Analysis Update: (20th Aug 2002)

Sorry for not uploading more information, but as you can imagine, things are rather hectic at the moment. I spent the weekend in Wiltshire and only returned home last night, to about 500 emails. I'm working through these and I also took a number of photos of the formation on the ground.

Initial analysis tends to indicate that the disc contains around 153 groups of 7 bit binary data bytes. I've not had a chance to key it all into the computer yet - which should allow for a much more variable analysis as I can vary the bit data between 7 and 8 bits and also shuffle the bit data back and forth to see if any close matched are given.

Analysis Update: (21th Aug 2002)

I've done some more analysis myself this afternoon, mainly because I wanted to satisfy my own curiosity and see if I could verify the various decoded messages other people are obtaining - and I can independently verify Eltjo's findings, yielding the message "Beware ...."

Using a detailed closeup image of the disc, kindly taken by Lucy Pringle, specifically for helping to decode the binary sequence, I was able to construct small squares or 'pixels' and superimpose them on the image. Then, starting from the centre and spiralling outwards, we get a 1 if the crop is standing and a 0 if the crop is flattened. Every 9th position is a small tuft of standing crop which is smaller than the standard 'pixels'. This I, along with several other researchers, interpret to be some kind of divider between digits. Between each marker digit are 8 'pixels', which conveniently corresponds to the standard 8 bits per byte notation that us computer programmers use. By using 8 bits we can represent anything from 00000000 which is 0 in decimal right up to 11111111 (ie. all 8 pixels 'on') which is 255 in decimal.

decoded message in crop formation

In order to represent numbers and letters of the alphabet, computers use a set of 128 characters which comprises what is known as the ASCII character set. ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange and was devised by the ANSI corporation back in the 1960s. The original ASCII set comprised of 7 bits in order to represent 128 unique characters. However, modern computers use an 8 bit character set which can display 255 different characters. The 'upper' 128 characters are usually reserved for special characters such as accented foreign characters and things like the Euro symbol.

Going back to our spiral of binary digits in the crop formation disc, we obtain an initial grouping of 01000010 01100101 01110111 01100001 01110010 and so on, spiralling out from the centre. (see diagram). We can translate these binary sequences into their decimal equivalent and thus look them up in the ASCII character set to see what letters they correspond to.

Doing this for the whole 'disc' we get the message "Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time. (Damaged Word). There is GOOD out there.We OPpose DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING (BELL SOUND)". This was originally decoded by an anonymous visitor to Linda Moulton-Howe's web site. Although I've yet to verify the entire binary sequence I got as far as the first couple of words and it did indeed read as above. I have no reason to assume the Linda's guest made a mistake, but I will continue decoding it when I have time (update - see below).

What does it all mean then?
I wouldn't really like to interpret the message itself as it could either be interpreted as some dire warning from extra-terrestrials or be intended as such by devious hoaxers. Indeed, the timing coinciding with 'malevolent aliens' in the recent "Signs" movie seems rather suspicious, especially if we're about to see a media campaign portraying aliens as negative entities.

Certainly using ASCII code to encode the message seems rather strange if coming from a genuine extra-terrestrial intelligence. This is not a universal 'sign of life' such as composites of prime numbers, the harmonic signature of hydrogen, PI or other irrational numbers etc etc. ASCII is purely the invention by a few computer scientists back in the 1960's. Of course, some true believers might use this to claim that the aliens have advanced sufficiently in their understanding of homo-sapien life that they feel comfortable communicating with us in our own language - but - ASCII is not a standard. What gives Western computer users the monopoly on communication with ET? Why not use Cryllic or Chinese encoding methods? Yes, I know the formation appeared in the UK so could justifiably use a UK encoding system, but ASCII is hardly universal!

Of course this discussion can go on and on. There are numerous points to support all kinds of perspectives on the origin of the formation. I remain of the opinion that it is hoaxed and indeed the physical construction on the ground is technically less impressive than the Chilbolton formations of last year. It's comprised of lines as opposed to individual pixels which would be easier to construct using GPS distances from the bordering frame.

I think we need to remain logical and rational when we examine and research controversial crop formations, especially those which inspire strong emotions in people. I've received a huge number of emails in response to my initial analysis, some agreeing and some disagreeing with my conclusions - but we must not get carried away by the media and film hype. It could be the most significant indicator of extra-terrestrial contact yet, or it could be part of a national disinformation effort such as the Doug and Dave expose. However, I believe that if it's genuinely ET and they want to make contact, they will find other ways and times in order to attract our attention if we're confused by this formation. If, on the other hand, it's a disinformation project by persons unknown then it could set back serious, academic research into crop circles by ten years.

To this end, I urge everyone to be vigilant and examine all possibilities.

Paul Vigay, 21st August 2002

Analysis Update: (22nd Aug 2002)

I've completed my decoding of the binary code within the 'disc' and with help from Frédéric Lebois, I can confirm the entire message as given above.

corrupt bytes?

I've also tried to piece together the damaged word in the middle of the message. This would appear to be either a mistake in the encoding in the formation or some additional code which I'm not familiar with. By clicking on the small thumbnail (shown right) you can view an enlarged view of that section of the disc. According to my own decoding the word says EELIJ?E where the ? is a letter that I can't decode, due to it having 11 (or possibly 12) bits. I shall assume it's 11 bits because if it was 12, the leading bit is a 0 so can be safely ignored in terms of decoding the numeric value. The bit pattern as far as I can make out is 10101010110 (don't forget to read in an anti-clockwise fashion because it's still spiralling out from the centre). This translates to 1366 in decimal. Being ruthless we can convert this into ASCII by performing a modulo 256 arithmetic, which will yield 86 or V. This would spell out EELIJVE - which still doesn't make sense to me.

Of course, if the formation is indeed a hoax, the confusion here could be simply due to a constructional error when making the formation, or a cryptic code in the middle. I notice that this word is separated from the main message by two fullstops, so it's difficult to tell what the maker of the formation intended.

Close up of corrupt bytes

To aid additional research, I've made available another one of my 'work in progress' diagrams (see right). This shows a close-up of my 'pixels' that I've been adding in order to clarify the decoding process. I've shifted the 11 confusing pixels to the right slightly so that you can see if you can do your own analysis and compare with my interpretation.

Clicking on either of the small thumbnail images will open a larger image in a new window. I've saved the images in PNG format so that there is no loss of quality (as there would be using JPEGs) but this does mean the images have bigger file sizes.

Unless any major breakthroughs occur I will probably leave my analysis of this formation and return to my other research. This is mainly due to my remaining scepticism about this formation and also because I don't think there is much left to decode. I will however, continue to periodically review this page and update/add to the links below if new information becomes available.

Paul Vigay, 22nd August 2002

Stop Press: (22nd Aug 2002, 4.15pm)

I've just received an email saying that the corrupt word could be BELIEVE. This would certainly make sense in the context of the decoded message. The only two mistaken letters would be the initial B and the E before the V. On re-examining the aerial photos what I interpreted to be a J could possibly be re-interpreted to become an E (by reading an extra space in the middle and dropping the last space), but examining what would be B definitely gives an E so again this could indicate an error in the physical construction

corrupt bytes
Changing the corrupt word to BELIEVE doesn't quite work...
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Links to other web sites: (updated 27th Oct 2003)

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