A new crop
picture near Wilton Windmill on July 15, 2016 shows two Fibonacci
“golden spirals”, a “heart” shape and a “smiling face”: who could have
Cat was a fictional cat, popularised by Lewis
Carroll in his book Alice's
Adventures in Wonderland. It is known for its distinctive or
mischievous smile. Another of its distinguishing features is that, from
time to time, its entire body disappears, the last thing visible being
its iconic grin.”
The first step to solving this puzzle was to recognize that each left or
right-hand side of the crop picture represents a “golden spiral”,
consistent with the Fibonacci set of numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21,
34, etc. (see
Once we overlay a Fibonacci “golden spiral” on each side of the crop
picture, then two such spirals create a new shape known as the “golden
heart”, which matches a “heart” shape in the crop picture itself.
Furthermore we can see right away that this process of overlap creates
the new image of a “smiling face”!
The next step to solving this puzzle was purely literary or cultural.
Which cultural icon from 19th-century English literature does
our new “smiling face” resemble? The answer seems obvious: none other
than a “Cheshire Cat”, which was made famous by Lewis Carroll in his
book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”:
The Cheshire Cat was known for its distinctive and mischievous grin. It
could also appear or disappear at will, so that often all one saw of the
Cheshire Cat was his face and iconic smile.
How did Alice first meet the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s book? It
was when she went to meet the Duchess in her kitchen:
“The only things in the kitchen that did not sneeze were the cook, and a
large cat which was sitting on the hearth. It was grinning from ear to
‘Please would you tell me,’ said Alice, a little timidly, ‘why your cat
grins like that?’
‘It’s a Cheshire cat,’ said the Duchess, ‘that’s
‘I didn’t know that Cheshire cats always grinned. In fact, I didn’t know
that cats could grin.’
‘They all can,’ said the Duchess; ‘and most of them do.’
‘I don’t know any cats that do grin,’ Alice said politely, feeling
pleased to have got into a conversation.
‘You don’t know much,’ said the Duchess; ‘and that’s a fact!’ “
crop-artist friend, who can seemingly appear or disappear at will,
comparing himself in this new field image at Wilton Windmill to a
“Cheshire Cat”? If so, then it is a wonderful literary allusion, and a
clever joke indeed!
“smiling faces” have been drawn in crops previously. For example on
August 3, 2009, we first learned of a new crop picture near Silbury Hill
at about 11 AM in the morning, and rushed over to see it with friends.
When we got there, this “smiling face” was “looking up” from the crop
field at everyone:
Those crop artists do seem to be “friendly”!
Finally, why did they draw this new “golden spiral” crop picture close
to Wilton Windmill? It may be because the mathematical process of
creating a golden spiral requires that we rotate a rectangle by 90o
over and over again, while it gets slightly larger by “phi” or 1.618 in
This process does seem to resemble the angular rotation of four
rectangular blades, from the large wooden rotor of a windmill.
(Dr. Horace R. Drew)