Mystery Crop Circle Was PR Stunt
UFO enthusiasts not happy
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2014 3:19 AM CST
This photo provided by NVIDIA shows a 310-foot “crop circle” in a California barley field that mystified locals this week.   (AP Photo/NVIDIA)

(Newser) – No aliens involved: A California crop circle that got worldwide attention after its discovery was actually a publicity stunt for chip maker Nvidia. The 310-foot circle in a barley field 100 miles southeast of San Francisco contained the number 192 in Braille, which turns out to have been a reference to the 192 computing cores in the company's new chip for tablets and smartphones, the AP reports. The company's CEO says he told his marketing department to find a way to promote the chip on a tight budget.

The company hired a Hollywood location scout to find the right spot, and the field's owner was in on the stunt, an Nvidia spokesman says. The circle was mowed down after a few days amid safety concerns. A spokesman for the Independent Crop Circle Researchers Association says he quickly realized the circle was a hoax but he's still angry at Nvidia. "A lot of people wasted a lot of time and a lot of money and resources to go out there," he tells the Monterey Herald. "It is costly for the researchers to follow up on all this nonsense."