Edinburgh, June 18 : A mysterious crop circle that emerged overnight in a barley field in England has baffled scientists, as it depicts the mathematical formula pi.
Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter and has an infinite number of decimal places.
According to a report in The Scotsman, an astrophysicist saw the image posted on the Internet and made the connection between the design of the crop circle and pi.
While some think the 250ft-wide design is a message from another world, most put the baffling circles down to hoaxers who have gone to extraordinary lengths to display their mathematical prowess.
The theory is that the circle, in a field near Barbury Castle in Wiltshire, south-west England, is a coded image of the first ten digits of pi; 3.141592654.
"It is apparently a coded image representing the first ten digits of pi. The tenth digit has even been correctly rounded up," according to Michael Reed from North Carolina, a retired astrophysicist who saw a photograph of the crop circle.
Mathematicians noticed that when they divided the circle into ten equal sections, the lines represented the digits in pi.
The first line moves along three sections, followed by a dot for the decimal point.
The lines then move outwards, firstly by one section, then by four sections, followed by one section and so on until the final line measures four sections, completing the first ten digits of pi.
"The fact the pi decimal point is included and there is rounding up to ten decimal places is mind-boggling," said Reed.
According to Lucy Pringle, who has spent decades researching crop circles, although some were man-made, it is hard to believe that such an intricate crop circle could have been created by humans.
"You can do it on a computer, but you try putting that in a field in the middle of the night and achieving that degree of mathematical accuracy," she said.
Her theory is that the designs are created by a spiralling electromagnetic force that hits the ground for a nanosecond.
"It's either a very educated person who has done it or a very educated alien," said Stewart Dobson, a local councilor. "It's hard to believe somebody managed to work (the design) out so it shows pi so accurately," he added.