Researchers using artificial intelligence have discovered mysterious "fairy circles" in various locations around the world. These round vegetation patterns have long perplexed experts, appearing in the Namib Desert and the Australian outback. However, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the phenomenon may be more widespread than previously believed.
The international research team trained a neural network by inputting over 15,000 satellite images of locations in Namibia and Australia, half of which contained fairy circles. The AI system then analyzed satellite views of over half a million 2.5-acre plots of land in other parts of the world, identifying fairy circles in 263 dryland locations across 15 countries.
These newly identified fairy circles were predominantly found in hot and sandy areas that received between four to 12 inches of rainfall annually. However, it is still uncertain whether all instances arise from the same natural mechanisms.
The formation of fairy circles remains a subject of debate among experts. Some believe they are a result of termite activity beneath the soil, while others suggest they are created by self-organizing plants. Additionally, there is no consensus on whether the newly identified sites fit the current definition of fairy circles.
This new finding adds to the mystery surrounding these peculiar circles, and further research is needed to reach a consensus. Co-author Emilio Guirado from the University of Alicante in Spain suggested that different hypotheses may be valid depending on the location or circumstances. He emphasized the need for more specialized fieldwork to gain a deeper understanding of these vegetation patterns.
In summary, the use of artificial intelligence has revealed fairy circles in various locations worldwide, expanding the phenomenon beyond the Namib Desert and the Australian outback. The cause of these circles remains uncertain, and experts hold differing opinions. Further research and fieldwork are necessary to unravel the mystery of these intriguing patterns.