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UFOs Learn a New Trick: Ice Circles PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

icecircleWe're all familiar and bored with crop circles now that they've been explained as being easily created by a couple of pieces of rope and a board. However, those who cling to the UFO theory of their generation have latched on to something new... water or ice circles. This phenomenon has been observed in cold waterways in the United States and elswhere, but one was recently spotted in the UK, home to the most famous crop circles.

The UFO crowd assumes the term "unexplained" to be synonymous with "unexplainable," so of course aliens must have made them. From the Times Online article:

The cause of the rare phenomenon is unclear, with very little scientific evidence available to explain the formation of the discs. UFO-enthusiasts claim that, like crop circles, the perfect discs are created by visiting aliens, but scientists believe the extreme cold weather combined with an unusual current is the more likely reason.

"Very little scientific evidence." I'm not sure what "scientific" evidence is versus the plain old kind of evidence, but I suspect the reason that the "cause of the rare phenomenon is unclear" is that no scientists have actually studied it in depth. I give the Times credit for posting one scientist's findings at the end of the article, but it contradicts the claim quoted above. It's almost as if someone wrote the article, and then an editor put in the part about the UFOs in order to garner more interest from the public.

And consider the title of the article, "Met(eorological) Office mystery over rare ice circle formed in Devon." Well sure, if you ask people who've never seen this phenomenon before, they're going to be a bit "stumped" even if it is loosely related to their field. Where's the interview with a Scandanavian meteorologist? And strangely, the Times reported the event again today, but as a normal if unusual weather occurence.

Well maybe not all that unusual. Here's another one, this time from Ontario, again attributed to aliens; one in Michigan, linked to a UFO report; a different one from Ontario, again the work of ET; and yet another Canadian circle in Toronto. But what's this? From that National Post article:

But don't call in the ufologists just yet.

These close encounters can be explained by quick shifts in temperature, said Joe Desloges, a river specialist and geography professor at the University of Toronto. Mr. Desloges explained that the frozen circles are actually ice pans, or surface slabs of ice that form in the center of a lake or creek, instead of along the water's edge. As water cools, it releases heat that turns into frazil ice - a collection of loose, needle shaped ice particles that can cluster together in an ice pan. If it accumulates enough frazil ice and the current is slow, over time, the pan can become a hanging dam - a dense, heavy piece of ice with high ridges and a low centre. But he admits that the near-perfect circular shape of the Mississauga ice pan is very strange.

"Normally, you do not get edges of the ice pan so clean and even. It may occur when a pan forms quickly, then melts a bit before starting to refreeze," he said. "There is the chance that these can form so perfectly, but not common at all."

I give the National Post credit for posting this, and actually talking to someone who knew something, but I have to admit, I think he's wrong. His explanation doesn't take into account the spinning, which is a great way to make circles. I think the explanations at the end of the Times article are much more likely. Until someone reproduces the conditions that produce these things, we won't know for sure.

At any rate, it's an interesting phenomenon... one I believe to be completely natural, and another example of why we don't need to invent things to find wonder. Aliens are NOT NEEDED in order for us to be fascinated by the natural world.

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Artsy skid-marks
written by baryogenesis, January 13, 2009
Those who want to see the evidence of aliens will surely find a way. These are the creative delineations of the artistic aliens. Crop circles and ice circles are the markings of a subset of ETs, as opposed to the scientific ones, who are more aloof and choose not to communicate (unless they miscalculate and crash---a rather crude form of communication). So, the default position should always be yessiree, more proof of aliens. Gotta love it.
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Another, perhaps better, media report on the subject
written by Bullitt, January 13, 2009
Ben Goldacre at BadScience.net first linked to this page: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new...-time.html
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written by dead yeti, January 14, 2009
thanks Bullitt some nice pictures on that article - at first i was a bit worried that that the Mail was taking the most rational stance of all the papers on the story, but the reader comments restored my faith in the world
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written by One Skunk Todd, January 14, 2009
Maybe it's just me but the two Ontario circles look sawn out of the ice rather than naturally formed.
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written by Rogue Medic, January 14, 2009
If these ETs are so advanced, they should be able to avoid landing in the water. They should know that the ice is not thick enough. And they should be able to remove evidence that they were ever there. Of course, the true believers will come up with silly reasonable explanations for all of this. You just have to be an idiot believe.
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the real mystery
written by Jon Lindsay, January 14, 2009
The real mystery is those perfectly formed crap circles.

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=99215799&blogID=294143744
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written by GMJ, January 14, 2009
The circles were not made by the ships because they were actually floating above the ice. The obvious explaination is that the alien astronauts were practicing their ice skating. They plan to become the first off planet skaters to participate in the next winter olympics. They have a shortage of ice on their home world. (unless they come from Eruopa where they skate upside down under the ice.)
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It's almost as if ...
written by rosie, January 14, 2009
"It's almost as if someone wrote the article, and then an editor put in the part about the UFOs in order to garner more interest from the public."
It's exactly as if, and that is undoubtedly what happened!
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written by Skip Tickle, January 14, 2009
These aliens must be soooooo bored, they obviously dont want to contact us, they have just been taunting us for the last 10000 years or so - seeing which of them can wind us all up the most. First crop circles, then ice circles, abduct the odd nut-job and play with their mind etc. etc. etc. Why cant they see that it would be nothing if not polite to actually try and stop and say hello to the world once in a while. Seeing as they are developed enough to build a space craft, travel at speeds we can only dream of, enter our atmosphere unnoticed hundreds if not thousands of times a year and then just leave a tiny circle in some frozen water - their imagination leaves an awful lot to be desired. Imagine what they could learn if they could spend 10 mins with a believer? Maybe bend the Eifel tower through 90 degrees half way up or something equally as impressive instead of lame old circles and I may start to reconsider my scepticism.
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written by The_Anti_Geller, January 14, 2009
This is old news to me, I recall listening to Art Bell in the mid-nineties and this chap from Quebec Canada phoned in and described his encounter, for lack of a better word, with one of these ice circles. He was crossing a foot bridge and he looked down on the river and there it was. What amazed him was the apparent precision of the edges of the circle as it rotated against the rest of the ice. Of course there were comparisons made to the crop circles, and he said on thing that amazed him was the apparent precision of the edges of the circle as it turned against the rest of the ice. Obviously this was proof of an advanced species that,earlier, hovered over the ice and carved a perfect circle into the river in rural Quebec. Yes, that's the way to use advanced alien technology.
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Freezing or Melting?
written by fatewilleatyou, January 14, 2009
If this is not a natural phenomena, then wouldn't it be possible to saw in the circle when the ice was thicker?
A day or two of thawing would remove any superficial evidence of a human hand, including a central pin.

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written by Rogue Medic, January 14, 2009
fatewilleatyou,

Why would you think that this is not a natural phenomenon? The ice circle is described as rotating every few minutes. This kind of behavior is similar to what a potter's wheel does, or a lathe. They create a symmetrical circular shape by spinning the item in the center. The edges are shaped by contact with things that grind down the edges. The result is a circle.

No fancy technology, just spinning, which is what these circles are described as doing.
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written by Cuddy Joe, January 14, 2009
Hmmm. How would I fake an ice circle? How about making sure the ice is thick enough to support me, then scratching a circle using a simple heavy weight and string, then using a chainsaw to cut along the line I've scratched in the ice, and finally, watching the media go gaga the next day after it's frozen back in place? Would that work?
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written by BillyJoe, January 14, 2009
Eithe I or you have misunderstood what a ice circle is.
(My understanding is that it is not frozen in place but floating free on the water)
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written by nelson650, January 14, 2009
*Yaawwwn* Let's bite at this...OK now I'm convinced that Aliens exist! Yup, this is the proof I've been needing! Beats out all the evidence for Santa Claus(whom we've all seen at the mall) the tooth fairy(I collected lots of dough from her!)and Bigfoot(on film yet!) Anyone let Micael Horn know?
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written by Cuddy Joe, January 15, 2009
Next up...... SNOW TRIANGLES.
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written by Adavidson, January 15, 2009
This is just too much.. I live in Norway, in the NORTH of Norway, the land of ice and snow. The formations we see in our mountains and hills as a result of melting, temperature changes, wind etc are far more impressive than a few stupid circles in a tiny silly lake. People all over the world know of these formations but no one ever attributes them to aliens, why? Well duh.

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written by Cuddy Joe, January 15, 2009
.......and CARPET HEXAGONS.
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written by Kuroyume, January 15, 2009
Show me an 'ice hypercube' and I'll believe... smilies/wink.gif
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written by Cuddy Joe, January 16, 2009
FOGGED BATHROOM MIRROR ELIPSES.
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Still working on the title
written by daveg703, January 16, 2009
There is another, simpler, quicker way to make circles in water: You find a nice stone, one with good heft,(a rock will also serve), and fling it out a good distance into a body of extremely cold water- such as one of our Minnesota lakes. Immediately upon impact with the surface, as if by magic, expanding circles will appear, growing larger and more numerous each moment. If your timing is right, and a serendipitous drop in temperature should occur at some point in the expansion, you will have a perfect, natural ice circle- and you, not the aliens, may take the credit.

There is no charge for this information, but expressions of gratitude and appreciation will be warmly received.
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written by Kuroyume, January 16, 2009
The problem is that most people (and especially biased believers) don't understand, ignore, or simply dismiss other possibilities. The fact that we should start by looking for the most mundane explanation first and foremost escapes them. This search for the mundane explanation is the foundation of our skepticism and a great contributor to scientific methodology.

To look at something and say that this or that must have been done by aliens, fairies, god(s), angels, or some other non-mundane thing displays a fantastical imaginative part of humans which at best leads to great ideas and art while at worst leads to, what I term, a form of reality-skewing in the brain. The term goes by other names such as tunnel vision, bias, myopics, blinders, rose-colored glasses, indoctrination. Whatever the name, it is the same phenomenon that leads people to the most outlandish claims or solutions. They can only see what they want to see in the realm of about that which they are 'fantasizing'.

Since this is so engrained, we typically say that no matter what is said or evidence is provided, they will never change their position. Maybe we need to study the phenomenon more to see how to detach people from this fantasy-driven mindset.
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written by daveg703, January 16, 2009
"Maybe we need to study the phenomenon more to see how to detach people from this fantasy-driven mindset."

Agreed! However, this detachment is unlikely to occur unless such people can be convinced that there is a great and very real personal advantage to them in abandoning the fantasy mode for rationality. Up to now the fantasy mode has been chosen as their most comfortable mindset, and it would take a jewel-encrusted carrot to lead them away from such a position.
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written by BillyJoe, January 16, 2009
Rationality is unlikely to help people who operate on the level of intuition.
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written by Cuddy Joe, January 17, 2009
@daveg703..

I sincerely extend to you my deepest gratitude and appreciation. Please help a guy out, though...

"You find a nice stone, one with good heft,(a rock will also serve),"

How do I tell a stone from a rock?
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written by daveg703, January 17, 2009
To Cuddy Joe:

My apologies.... wait a sec, one should suffice. My apology for omitting the procedure for stone/rock discrimination, supplied herewith:

First, obtain a dowser or witching rod. If willows do not grow in your neighborhood, popsicle sticks arranged in similar configuration and stapled together at the apex, will serve equally well. If you are a member of the medical profession and have a few tongue oppressors in your pocket, these may be substituted if sterilized in a good grade of vodka prior to use. If there is a confusing profusion of assorted rocks and stones from which you would select a suitable object, a dowsing instrument is an essential tool in making your choice.

Now, approaching an object of appropriate size, i.e., one you can lift and hurl easily, bring your instrument within a half meter of your choice and observe the reaction. If the instrument begins a slow, vertical oscillation (sort of nodding in affirmation) as you approach, you have identified a stone. Now proceed to another contender for the test and perform the same operation. If the dowsing rod oscillates vertically during approach, you just may have encountered a rock.

The question immediately arises, of course, due to the subtle difference that may be undectable by human vision alone, is there a test with finer resolution that will give a positive determination. The answer is yes, and is performed as follows;

Standing approximately 12 inches (or 17 cm- either will do) behind the object in question, give it a swift, vigorous kick with the toe of your boot. If it immediately becomes airborne and lands a few feet away, it is a stone. If it remains stationary, and at least one of your toes is severely bruised, you have identified a rock. I trust the preceding has served as appropriate clarification for your inquiry.
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written by Caller X, January 20, 2009
daveg703 scribbled:

Standing approximately 12 inches (or 17 cm- either will do) behind the object in question, give it a swift, vigorous kick with the toe of your boot. If it immediately becomes airborne and lands a few feet away, it is a stone. If it remains stationary, and at least one of your toes is severely bruised, you have identified a rock. I trust the preceding has served as appropriate clarification for your inquiry.


So those big things at Stonehenge are rocks, right?
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written by daveg703, January 21, 2009
"So those big things at Stonehenge are rocks, right?"

Caller X, your impressive perspicacity and the 'swiftness' of your comprehension of the principle is both gratifying and appropriate to this publication. Furthermore, it is thoroughly established by your immediate application of it to the artifacts at Stonehenge, which despite the apparent misnomer for that area, will certainly reinforce the validity of the definition upon application of the boot toe test- even in the field under less-than-laboratory conditions.
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