CES 2014: Mystery crop circle was just Nvidia's bizarre PR stunt

Now, this is just odd. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said today that the company staged a gigantic crop circle last month as part of an advance marketing campaign for its new Tegra K1 mobile processor, which was revealed during its keynote at this week's CES 2014.

Advertising mobile processors is an odd art to begin with, because normal humans can't buy them. Processor marketing campaigns are designed to get phone and tablet manufacturers feeling that their products will get a sales boost by including a chip with some real publicity behind it.

Before Nvidia's Tegra 2, in fact, phone makers often didn't talk about their processors at all; first Nvidia, then Qualcomm's Snapdragon line, pushed processor brands into the public eye.

The 310ft crop circle, which was covered on weather.com and NBC News appeared outside Salinas, California on 30 December. The journalists involved seemed pretty baffled, and UFOlogists decided to have a go at it as well.

While they were incorrect that the circle was created by "grey aliens," they were right that it contained the number 192 in Braille - the number of cores in Nvidia's new Tegra K1 processor.

"People thought aliens had done this, and the coverage has been fantastic," Huang said. "I told them no animals could be harmed in the spectacle, no money should be wasted and the environment should not be damaged."

He noted that the crop circle was made in a field of barley that wasn't being used as a cash crop. By New Year's eve, the crop circle was the site of a local party featuring "something called 'Bongzilla,'" he added. That's probably why by 2 January, the landowner just ploughed the whole thing over.