Claim: Fluctuations in Earth's magnetic field (geomagnetic storms) causes a myriad of different health problems.

The real problem is that with pretty much random daily geomagnetic fluctuations one has to do all manner of adjusting to take into account weather, pollution, man made magnetic fluctuations...etc etc.
Hmm, I'm not so sure. None of those factors (with the possible exception of pollution- which will be relatively localised to areas with terrible air quality) affect MI rates by a factor of two as claimed for GMA, brought to our attention by an earlier poster.

Frankly I'm very sceptical that any single exterior/ environmental factor increases the average number of MIs occurring by a factor of 2 in a given timeframe.
(To be honest I'm sceptical that any combination of external factors increases MIs by a factor of 2 for a suitably large population in a given geographical area over a set period of time).
 
Hmm, I'm not so sure. None of those factors (with the possible exception of pollution- which will be relatively localised to areas with terrible air quality) affect MI rates by a factor of two as claimed for GMA, brought to our attention by an earlier poster.

Frankly I'm very sceptical that any single exterior/ environmental factor increases the average number of MIs occurring by a factor of 2 in a given timeframe.
(To be honest I'm sceptical that any combination of external factors increases MIs by a factor of 2 for a suitably large population in a given geographical area over a set period of time).

Then we are not actually disagreeing. I'm essentially pointing out that I'd be more inclined to believe stats that fitted the medical conditions to the 11 year solar cycle than to stats that are fitted to random daily geomagnetic fluctuations. A trend that showed significant fit to the 11 year cycle would not have to worry about weather, pollution, or other factors that vary on a much shorter timescale.

I likewise don't believe the 'factor of 2' claims. I think those claims arise precisely because the data is being 'adjusted' in some way. So we need to eliminate that adjustment, and the full solar cycle would be the best way.
 
Then we are not actually disagreeing. I'm essentially pointing out that I'd be more inclined to believe stats that fitted the medical conditions to the 11 year solar cycle than to stats that are fitted to random daily geomagnetic fluctuations. A trend that showed significant fit to the 11 year cycle would not have to worry about weather, pollution, or other factors that vary on a much shorter timescale.

I likewise don't believe the 'factor of 2' claims. I think those claims arise precisely because the data is being 'adjusted' in some way. So we need to eliminate that adjustment, and the full solar cycle would be the best way.

I found something that might be relevant, which is trends of heart disease, cancer, and stroke. https://www.prb.org/resources/u-s-trends-in-heart-disease-cancer-and-stroke/

age-adjusted-death-rates.png


Perhaps someone could find a graph of solar activity spanning these decades and overlay it with these stats?
 
Perhaps someone could find a graph of solar activity spanning these decades and overlay it with these stats?


Mortality vs solar cycles as indicated by sunspot frequency.jpg

The orange graph is from a graph of solar cycles as indicated by sunspot frequency. I think we can use it as surrogate for solar activity. (I've cropped the graph from the original and altered the height-width ratio for presentation purposes).
It's taken from "Tracking the solar cycle", a European Space Agency webpage which uses data from NOAA, dated 29/10/20;
https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2020/10/Tracking_the_solar_cycle_NOAA
 
Last edited:
View attachment 64896
The orange graph is from a graph of solar cycles as indicated by sunspot frequency. I think we can use it as surrogate for solar activity. (I've cropped the graph from the original and altered the height-width ratio for presentation purposes).
It's taken from "Tracking the solar cycle", a European Space Agency webpage which uses data from NOAA, dated 29/10/20;
https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2020/10/Tracking_the_solar_cycle_NOAA

So, deaths from heart disease and stroke have declined steadily since the '50s, likely due to improved knowledge, care and medical interventions. Cancer has stayed stubbornly about the same with a slight increase in the early '90s followed by a very slight decrease in the early '00s.

Totally unrelated to sun-spot activity. I suspect a cover up ;).
 
What is everyone's thoughts on this paper, which was published on Harvard's website in 2014?

https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2014cosp...40E1114G/abstract#:~:text=It was shown statistically that,comparison with quiet geomagnetic conditions

They had quite a large sample size and data was taken from several countries as well:
During 14 years we collected more than 25000 cases of acute myocardial infarction and brain stroke at seven medical hospitals located in Russia, China and some other countries.

It was shown statistically that during geomagnetic disturbances the frequency of myocardial infarction and brain stroke cases increased on the average by a factor of two in comparison with quiet geomagnetic conditions.

This is the mechanism that they proposed:

Our investigations show the red blood cells are very sensitive to electromagnetic forces. Most probable that geomagnetic fluctuations (frequency) acting on blood, brain, adrenals involves the adaptation system. This leads to increasing a level of catecholamines in blood responsible for activation of the clotting system, rise in aggregation and spasm in the afferent vessels of the microcirculatory network. In persons suffering from CHD, the foreground problem is the reversibility of these pathological processes.
 
What is everyone's thoughts on this paper, which was published on Harvard's website in 2014?
It's a paper from a medical conference in Moscow. "Harvard's website" doesn't imply any connection at all with Harvard.

If the levels of EMF from various sources quoted elsewhere in this thread are anywhere near accurate (even within several orders of magnitude) it's hard to see how there can possibly be a connection between the tiny amount of influence of geomagnetic storms and significant medical manifestations, but not with much stronger signals from magnets, etc. That leads me to suspect that (1) the stats have been cooked, or (2) some other causative factor has not yet been identified.
 
What is everyone's thoughts on this paper, which was published on Harvard's website in 2014?
External Quote:
It was shown statistically that during geomagnetic disturbances the frequency of myocardial infarction and brain stroke cases increased on the average by a factor of two in comparison with quiet geomagnetic conditions.

I don't think it's credible at all.
Sadly, MIs and strokes aren't uncommon.
For decades, many MI sufferers have had a high level of resources allocated to their care (in developed nations), as have sufferers of haemorrhagic stroke. Over the past 20 years or so, practical thrombolysis for more common ischaemic strokes (and the necessity of rapid intervention) has increased the priorities and resources devoted to many of that group of patients.

In the USA, approximately 805,000 people have a heart attack (myocardial infarction, MI) every year,
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage "Heart Disease Facts", https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm)
and approximately 795,000 people have a stroke (or cerebrovascular accident, CVA)
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage "Stroke Facts", https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm).

805,000 + 795,000 = 1,600,000;
divided by 365.24 = 4380.681 MIs and CVAs (total) on average every day in the USA, or 182.528 each hour.

Any significant fluctuations from "the norm", even if only for a day or so, would soon be apparent-
-if "quiet geomagnetic conditions" changed in the space of a few hours to "geomagnetic disturbances", the Gurfinkel/ Breus work (published for a conference, not in a peer-reviewed journal as Ann K. points out) implies we would see a rapid doubling of MIs and CVAs across a vast geographical area (possibly planetwide).

Even if the geomagnetic disturbance only lasted 12 hours or so, the increase in workload for paramedic services, emergency departments, medical imaging services, cardiac catheter labs etc. etc. at the same time across the globe would be clearly evident.
We can be pretty certain that every cardiac unit has busy and less busy shifts; but if the busy/ less busy shifts coincided for all cardiac units all of the time, it would be noticed (not least because a unit filled to capacity, wishing to redirect potential incoming patients, would find equivalent units were also stretched).

I'm not aware of any evidence that MI or CVA rates ever double (or halve) in large populations across a significant geographical area in the space of/ for a duration of a few days, (or weeks, or months) and the Gurfinkel/ Breus paper doesn't supply any evidence to support that extraordinary claim.
 
This article was published in Nature. Not sure how credible Nature is, but the study in question cited another study suggesting that geomagnetic activity is linked to terrorism.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-20932-x

Geomagnetic disturbances are associated with significant increases in hospital admissions for depression, mental disorders, psychiatric admission, suicide attempts, homicides and traffic accidents23,24,25,26,27,28,29. Disturbed geomagnetic activity can also exacerbate existing diseases and is correlated with significant increases in cardiac arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease, incidence of myocardial infarction related death, alterations in blood flow, increased blood pressure, and epileptic seizures7,20,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39.

https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation?paperid=1107

The abstract of the other study:

Using data on suicide terroristic attacks in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan (1062 cases 1994-2008) it was found that certain patterns of heliogeo-physical factors were similar in all countries studied, and typically accompanied such acts. Geomagnetic activity significantly increased (p<0.0001) at the day of attack and at the next day following attack. Interplanetary magnetic field polarity tends to change at the day before attack (p<0.03) and at the day after attack (p<0.007).

Pretty much every study on this subject of Heliobiology is somehow finding statistically significant correlations between geomagnetic storms and everything that is bad.
 
Last edited:
Pretty much every study on this subject of Heliobiology is somehow finding statistically significant correlations between geomagnetic storms and everything that is bad.
Your reference also claims
External Quote:
...frequency of terrorist attacks have been linked to the solar cycle and the resulting disturbances in the geomagnetic field1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Increased solar activity has not only been associated with social unrest, it is also associated with the periods of the greatest human flourishing with clear spurts of innovation and creativity in architecture, arts, sciences, and positive social change.
Terrorist attacks are not generally spur-of-the-moment but take place after considerable planning. The "human flourishing" examples given are (as well as certainly not being part of "everything that is bad") things that take years and years to develop. These are things that are about as far as can be imagined from the acute medical conditions / geomagnetic storm claims with which you began this thread. This sounds very much like a (spurious) correlation in search of a causation.
 
This article was published in Nature. Not sure how credible Nature is
Nature is credible and highly prestigious (which I'm sure you know!)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_(journal)

But the paper you cite (which looks interesting, I will read it) was published in Scientific Reports, again a credible source but it's not Nature.
Scientific Reports
is published by Nature Portfolio, a division of Springer Nature, the publisher known as Springer until it acquired the journal Nature in 2013.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Portfolio

Nature Portfolio publishes many journals (and Scientific American) containing papers that might not be of interest to Nature.
 
This article was published in Nature. Not sure how credible Nature is, but the study in question cited another study suggesting that geomagnetic activity is linked to terrorism.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-20932-x
16 participants, no control, and no controlling for any other factor - this study is weak. (Also notice that the paper doesn't even mention the word "control" except once in an irrelevant context - were they trying to hide this weakness?)

Also note that the paragraph you quoted is *not* the result of this paper's study, it is merely background regarding related work in the paper's introduction.
 
That's interesting. Makes me also wonder if walking past a fridge with a bunch of magnets on it would induce greater fluctuations on the body in comparison to magnetic storms.

Credit for the joke, but alas fridge magnets don't work that way, they are deliberately short-ranged. (Rub two together to work out why.)
 
Your reference also claims
...frequency of terrorist attacks have been linked to the solar cycle and the resulting disturbances in the geomagnetic field1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Increased solar activity has not only been associated with social unrest, it is also associated with the periods of the greatest human flourishing with clear spurts of innovation and creativity in architecture, arts, sciences, and positive social change.

Does anyone know if detectable increased geomagnetic activity at the Earth's surface is more common on the side of the planet facing the sun?
If so (and this is pretty much "off the top of my head", I'm not sure how seriously I'm considering this bit of theorising) maybe the researchers have simply found that more human activity happens during daytime.

I agree with Ann K. about the timings of terrorist attacks; many suicide bombings in the Middle East and Afghanistan were (I think, I'm open to evidence otherwise) implemented by groups in which a bomb-maker constructed the device and less-skilled acolytes were selected to perform the attack. The selection of a safe location, acquisition of supplies and actual construction of a device takes time. The relevant conflicts lasted for years or are ongoing; motivations (whether good or bad) run deep. I don't think it's credible that a group making explosive waistcoats needs an increase in geomagnetic activity to "push them over the edge" into action.

The situations in Iraq and Afghanistan were incredibly chaotic; we might not have a clear picture of what was happening in events in which American and allied forces were not directly involved.
Israel is different; we can be fairly confident that all suicide attacks get media coverage.
All the authors need to do is publish their list of dates of increased geomagnetic activity, and their list of dates of suicide attacks in Israel.

Similarly, a list of dates of increased geomagnetic activity, and a list of dates of "...clear spurts of innovation" in the arts, sciences and "positive social change".
 
By chance, caught a BBC World Service Witness History program last night, "What the 1989 solar storm did to Quebec",
only 8minutes 59 seconds. First released yesterday (05/01/2024).
Must admit, I don't recall hearing about the March 9, 1989 solar storm or the 13 March geomagnetic storm it caused.

The blurb reads,
External Quote:
On 13 March 1989, the Canadian province of Quebec suffered a nine-hour electricity blackout.
Much of the state's infrastructure was damaged, but the power companies couldn't find any obvious cause.
Physicist Aja Hruska was one of the only people in the country that knew the answer to Quebec's problem.
A solar flare ejected by the sun had hit the earth's magnetic field, creating electrical havoc.
And the damage could have been avoided if her warnings had been properly acknowledged.
Aja shares her memories of that day with Eva Runciman.
Link, on BBC Sounds
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct4x8h

Not sure if it's accessible outside the UK. Couldn't attach a file (unsure why), luckily there seems to be a copy at Fastupload.io ;)
BBC What the 1989 solar storm did to Quebec
MP4, 3.41 Mb, no password.
(hope this doesn't infringe posting guidelines).

Wikipedia page, March 1989 geomagnetic storm, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1989_geomagnetic_storm. There is no mention of any direct health implications.

-So at least we've got dates for a period of intense geomagnetic activity.
Now all we need to do is find out if MIs and CVAs increased dramatically!
Call it a wild stab in the dark, but I'm guessing that they didn't.
 
External Quote:
Using data on suicide terroristic attacks in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan (1062 cases 1994-2008) it was found that certain patterns of heliogeo-physical factors were similar in all countries studied, and typically accompanied such acts. Geomagnetic activity significantly increased (p<0.0001) at the day of attack and at the next day following attack. Interplanetary magnetic field polarity tends to change at the day before attack (p<0.03) and at the day after attack (p<0.007).
Pretty much every study on this subject of Heliobiology is somehow finding statistically significant correlations between geomagnetic storms and everything that is bad.

I asked my kid a few questions about this study. As he's a native Californian experiencing his first taste a of a South Dakota winter he decided to pour a cup of hot coffee and go down the rabbit hole with it.

He's an Anthropology professor and doesn't pretend to be a mathematician or statistics expert, but stats are widely used in the analysis of evidence in anthro, so he's knowledgeable in it. He sent me a set of notes as if he were asked to anonymously peer review the article.

From the Introduction paragraph in the study:

External Quote:
As shown in literature [3,4], the geomagnetic disturbances and changes of interplanetary magnetic field polarity (caused by crossing by the Earth of the interplanetary magnetic field sector boundaries) are biologically effective heliogeophysical events. Depending on the level of geomagnetic disturbance, the power of alternating magnetic fields in the frequency range of 10-4-10 Hz may vary between 0-500 nTl globally
Response:

External Quote:
P. 294: “As shown in the literature [3,4]…”
o Both of these references are in listed in English but stated that they are in Russian
originally. I’d have to do further digging to see if there are translations, but I’m already
disappointed that “the literature” is both sparse and unavailable to me to be verified
(unless there are translations).
Also from the introduction:

External Quote:
Following the classical work of Alexander Thizhevskiy [5], it is commonly recognized, that heliogeophysical factors may promote social perturbances by influencing the mental state of people. Terrorism currently is a global challenge. Its prevention becomes a significant interdisciplinary problem.
Response:

External Quote:
P. 294 “Following the classical work of Alexander Thizhevskiy [5], it is commonly recognized, that
heliogeophysical factors may promote social perturbances by influencing the mental state of
people.”

o I find this phrasing problematic in that “common recognition” is linked to only one
individual’s paper. It is a bold claim to say something has gained the status of common
recognition within a field (akin to scientific theory) based on a single publication.
Biologists may cite Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” but that publication alone by no
means is the basis of why the theory of evolution has gained “common recognition” –
it’s from the overwhelming evidence since that publication.
In addition, it appears Thizhevskiy's paper is actually from 1926:

External Quote:
o Additionally, Thizevskiy’s 1971 publication these authors cite has a worrying note from
the editor in a reprint of the issue: “…Extensive work has been done on sunspots as well
as on human excitability, but the task of establishing any relationship of the two remains
one of the more unfinished projects.
Our previous publication of the paper is out of print; it is reprinted here in response to
numerous requests.”

 Not only does this question the validity of Thizevskiy’s own work, but it also
states that the association remains an “unfinished product” which is similarly
worrying language as science doesn’t have “projects” to “solve” but rather
questions to ask. It is a process of disproving – not proving.

 The latter portion of the note had me wondering when the original publication
date was, since some interval had clearly passed. Scrolling down to the
*footnote on Page 11, I see that Tchijevsky gave this paper originally in 1926, so
it would be more appropriate if the authors were explicit about the original date
(e.g., Tchijovsky [1926] 1971). Tchijevsky in fact died in 1964, so this publication
date (1971) must have been written earlier (outside of a posthumous
publication). This is important as it avoids giving the false impression that the
scholarship is more recent in findings when in reality it is simply a
reprint/translation.
Then there is the claim that solar activity has something to due with creativity activity:

External Quote:
In extensive research [11], the occurrence of an approximate 10-year periodicity of the creative activity in West-European and Chinese painting, poetry and science in the period from 1400 to 1800 is shown. As a rule, the peaks of creative work in China align with those in West Europe.
Response:

External Quote:
 P. 294 “In extensive research [11]…”
o This a large claim for only one reference (and another I unfortunately cannot read).

 P. 294 “As a rule, the peaks of creative work in China align with those in West Europe.”

o How this is relevant to the article I am not sure, but this also lacks any citation (or
compilation thereof). I also question how “peaks of creative work” were defined (Art?
Monumental architecture? Poetry?) and subsequently correlated.
As for the findings and techniques used:

External Quote:
No significant associations were found with Solar activity. However, in combined cohort (1062 cases) geomagnetic activity significantly increased (p<0.0001 by Wilcoxon criterion for unpaired groups) at the day of attack and the day after attack (i.e. 0 and +1 days) comparing with other days (Figure 1).
Response:

External Quote:
 P. 295 “Statistical significance of tendencies in heliophysical factors near the day of attack was
calculated using Wilcoxon criterion.”

o I’m assuming they are referring to a Wilcoxon signed-ranked test, or Mann-Whitney
test, here.
 There is no justification of why they chose this test, nor any alpha levels. Were
there checks on normality first? Was the data non-normally distributed?
As I understood it, a Wilcoxon test is for comparing 2 very different groups for the same thing. Something like what is the average height for a group of professional jockeys and professional basketball players. One has to account for the big differences between the 2 groups.

And then there is the question of magnitude:

External Quote:
 P. 295 “No significant associations were found with Solar activity. However, in a combined
cohort (1062 cases) geomagnetic activity significantly increased (p&lt;0.0001 by Wilcoxon criterion
for unpaired groups) at the day of attack and the after attack (i.e. O and +1 days) comparing
with other days.”

o Indeed, how was no significant association found? What test? What subgroups?

o What P-value(s), sample size(s), and effect size(s)? Even if the difference is significant, all
that the null hypothesis test tells you is there is a difference, not the magnitude of that
difference. Additionally, if one group is being compared to multiple other groups (i.e.,
Day 0 group mean vs. Day +1 group mean, then Day 0 group mean vs. Day -1 group
mean) there is a risk in increasing your family wise error rate (FWER). It’s often safe to
implement a correction factor (e.g., Bonferroni adjustment, Šidák, etc.) to avoid power
being extremely limited.

o How was this comparison made? What were the sample sizes of the 0 combined with
the +1 days subgroup and everything else?
If one were to say there is a significant P value that people with blue eyes are taller than people with brown eyes in a small suburb of Clevland, it might sound compelling. But if the difference were 2mm, it's largely meaningless.

All to say, just because it's in a "paper", doesn't make it authoritative.

One of the things my son said he tries to teach his students is to run down the citations in a paper. If there is a citation, look it up and see what it really says. I it refers to another citation, look that up and so on. Don't take the author for his word.
 
If one were to say there is a significant P value that people with blue eyes are taller than people with brown eyes in a small suburb of Clevland, it might sound compelling. But if the difference were 2mm, it's largely meaningless.
It doesn't sound compelling, "small suburb of Cleveland" sounds like someone cherry-picked their data and methods, and the small effect size reinforces that impression. (Which is why we have pre-registered studies now.)

likewise, picking arbitrary days of solar activity instead of all of them smells of cherry-picking. As does selecting a statistical test for no clear reason.

From the Introduction paragraph in the study:
External Quote:

As shown in literature [3,4], the geomagnetic disturbances and changes of interplanetary magnetic field polarity (caused by crossing by the Earth of the interplanetary magnetic field sector boundaries) are biologically effective heliogeophysical events. Depending on the level of geomagnetic disturbance, the power of alternating magnetic fields in the frequency range of 10-4-10 Hz may vary between 0-500 nTl globally
compare Valee:
The interplanetary magnetic field strength is about 50 microGauss near the Earth

50 μGauss = 5 nTesla
How does the author set the range at 0-500 nTesla? 500 seems excessive.
 
External Quote:
Using data on suicide terroristic attacks in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan (1062 cases 1994-2008) it was found that certain patterns of heliogeo-physical factors were similar in all countries studied, and typically accompanied such acts. Geomagnetic activity significantly increased (p<0.0001) at the day of attack and at the next day following attack. Interplanetary magnetic field polarity tends to change at the day before attack (p<0.03) and at the day after attack (p<0.007).
So he's saying that, with p<0.007, it's more likely that terrorist attacks cause interplanetory field polarity changes than interplanetory field polarity changes cause terrorist attacks, with a slacker p<0.03?

In reality, this is just more fuel for ths "p values are mostly useless" pyre and a reminder that correlation isn't necessarily causation.
 
it appears Thizhevskiy's paper is actually from 1926

That on its own is a huge warning sign for me. That's right about the same time that Russian "scientists" like Lysenko were studying vernalisation in crops (in a nutshell, he assumed Lamarckian rather than Darwinian Evolution, throwing out everything Mendel et al. had discovered about genetics); not the most reliable period in Russian science, which was highly ideologically motivated at the time.
 
It doesn't sound compelling, "small suburb of Cleveland" sounds like someone cherry-picked their data and methods, and the small effect size reinforces that impression. (Which is why we have pre-registered studies now.)

likewise, picking arbitrary days of solar activity instead of all of them smells of cherry-picking. As does selecting a statistical test for no clear reason.


compare Valee:
The interplanetary magnetic field strength is about 50 microGauss near the Earth

50 μGauss = 5 nTesla
How does the author set the range at 0-500 nTesla? 500 seems excessive.
~500 nanotesla/min (for example) is the rate of fluctuation in the magnetic field, not the strength of it. Earth's magnetic field strength is 20,000 to 60,000 nanotesla depending on where you are.
 
~500 nanotesla/min (for example) is the rate of fluctuation in the magnetic field, not the strength of it. Earth's magnetic field strength is 20,000 to 60,000 nanotesla depending on where you are.
Ah, right. The paragraph says, "geomagnetic disturbances and changes of interplanetary magnetic field polarity", and the "geomagnetic disturbance" would then far outweigh the interplanetary polarity change.

Though I don't see that they're using the 500 nTesla as a rate; as written, it's the absolute amplitude of the fluctuation.
 
Totally unrelated to sun-spot activity. I suspect a cover up

The problem is that the rapid decline in heart disease rate actually hides any possible relationship with the solar cycle. We then get into the realm of merging and de-merging wave forms, superposition, etc.
 
The problem is that the rapid decline in heart disease rate actually hides any possible relationship with the solar cycle. We then get into the realm of merging and de-merging wave forms, superposition, etc.
Simpler to take a DFT, and ignore the very low frequency linear terms if that's your only worry. If one is driving the other, or they're both driven by the same root cause, then that will be just as clear in frequency-space. This also has the benefit of showing the order of the influence, if there is any, as that will appear in the difference in the phase terms.

However, you don't need MathCAD for this, you can kinda do the transform in your head, and see that the largest components in one of the signals is completely absent in the other.
 
Ah, right. The paragraph says, "geomagnetic disturbances and changes of interplanetary magnetic field polarity", and the "geomagnetic disturbance" would then far outweigh the interplanetary polarity change.

Though I don't see that they're using the 500 nTesla as a rate; as written, it's the absolute amplitude of the fluctuation.
It was an example. A geomagnetic storm is defined as a disturbance time index (dst) of -50 nT/min or more. The most severe geomagnetic storms have a dst of over -500 nanotesla per minute. https://www.spaceweatherlive.com/en/auroral-activity/magnetometers.html#DST_index
 
https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/does-earths-magnetic-field-affect-human-health

Does the Earth's magnetic field affect human health?​




The Earth's magnetic field does not directly affect human health. Humans evolved to live on this planet.
High altitude pilots and astronauts can experience higher levels of radiation during magnetic storms, but the hazard is due to the radiation, not the magnetic field itself. Geomagnetism can also impact the electrically based technology that we rely on, but it does not impact people themselves.

This contradicts the sources saying that geomagnetic storms affect people's health. Which source is more trustworthy?
 
This contradicts the sources saying that geomagnetic storms affect people's health. Which source is more trustworthy?
No, I don't think it contradicts them. It plainly says that the hazard is due to the radiation found during a geomagnetic storm, and is not a magnetic effect. And it clarifies that some people (pilots and astronauts) will get a stronger effect.

I'm not a physician, but I decided to glean some stuff from your sources. I stopped at this one, one of your primary citations in the OP. It always helps to look at the conclusions from a study.
External Quote:
The results from heliobiological investigations carried out in the last 20 years have reported evidence that suggests solar activity has direct or indirect influences on human health. Although there are speculations about the reality of such relationships, the results have attracted the scientific community to heliobiology and encouraged them to conduct more research in this field and search for mechanisms that can explain such relationships. For more conclusions to be made in the field of heliobiology, more investigations and medical data from different places around the world are needed.
https://biomedscis.com/fulltext/the...tic-disturbance-on-human-health.ID.000203.php

Their words, "there are speculations about the reality of such relationships" I translate to mean "We don't even know if the effect is real", although that could mean any or all of these:
(1) We don't have a big enough sample set
(2) We don't see a big enough effect
(3) We don't see a close enough correlation
(4) We don't have any defined mechanism
...and the usual conclusion
(5) More work needs to be done.

Open source articles and their many separate contributors would need to be followed up individually to make any determination of their "trustworthiness", but at the moment, there seems to be no single answer to your question. One thing they do seem to agree upon is that the effects, if they exist at all, are insignificant for most people at most times.
 
No, I don't think it contradicts them. It plainly says that the hazard is due to the radiation found during a geomagnetic storm, and is not a magnetic effect. And it clarifies that some people (pilots and astronauts) will get a stronger effect.

I'm not a physician, but I decided to glean some stuff from your sources. I stopped at this one, one of your primary citations in the OP. It always helps to look at the conclusions from a study.
External Quote:
The results from heliobiological investigations carried out in the last 20 years have reported evidence that suggests solar activity has direct or indirect influences on human health. Although there are speculations about the reality of such relationships, the results have attracted the scientific community to heliobiology and encouraged them to conduct more research in this field and search for mechanisms that can explain such relationships. For more conclusions to be made in the field of heliobiology, more investigations and medical data from different places around the world are needed.
https://biomedscis.com/fulltext/the...tic-disturbance-on-human-health.ID.000203.php

Their words, "there are speculations about the reality of such relationships" I translate to mean "We don't even know if the effect is real", although that could mean any or all of these:
(1) We don't have a big enough sample set
(2) We don't see a big enough effect
(3) We don't see a close enough correlation
(4) We don't have any defined mechanism
...and the usual conclusion
(5) More work needs to be done.

Open source articles and their many separate contributors would need to be followed up individually to make any determination of their "trustworthiness", but at the moment, there seems to be no single answer to your question. One thing they do seem to agree upon is that the effects, if they exist at all, are insignificant for most people at most times.
The studies I cite do not mention radiation as a mechanism for the correlations, but rather things involving magnetism, Schumann Resonance, and in some cases magnetic crystals in the pineal gland. There's no debate that radiation has effects on health but that doesn't seem to be the narrative of these studies, which instead speculate that magnetism is behind the effects.

Radiation from solar flares doesn't increase the level of ground level radiation.
 
Last edited:
The studies I cite do not mention radiation as a mechanism for the correlations, but rather things involving magnetism, Schumann Resonance, and in some cases magnetic crystals in the pineal gland. There's no debate that radiation has effects on health but that doesn't seem to be the narrative of these studies, which instead speculate that magnetism is behind the effects.
Exactly.
Do you know the motto, "correlation is not causation"?
All of the studies I've seen don't go beyond correlation, some of them in a prescient way (increased incidence before a magnetic anomaly), and obviously correlation is not trustworthy at all.

On the other hand, the US Geological Survey page you quoted cites no sources, and the USGS isn't exactly the first agency I'd go to for health-related issues. That said, they're not the only ones who deny that geomagnetism has direct health effects, so you've picked a bit of a straw man here.

I cannot imagine (as we've explained upthread) that such a miniscule, transient cause can have this effect, it seems physically impossible to establish a plausible mechanism of causation that does not defy common sense. Until there is that, I'm not going to trust mere correlation.
 
The studies I cite do not mention radiation as a mechanism for the correlations, but rather things involving magnetism, Schumann Resonance, and in some cases magnetic crystals in the pineal gland.

From the discussions above, I'm not at all persuaded that "the correlations" exist. No correlation = probably no causal link. No causal link makes consideration of theoretical mechanisms to explain a (probably) non-existent relationship speculative at best.
The geomagnetic field is large (obviously) but weak. A fridge magnet is about 100-200 times stronger.
Does moving towards or away from a fridge magnet significantly, or even detectably, affect our health? No.
(I realise there's already been discussion of static v. fluctuating fields- fridge magnets v. geomagnetic events- in earlier posts).
But most of us are close to fridge magnets, or hairdryers, or any number of electrical devices / sources of magnetism for longer durations in any given year (probably any given week) than the Earth experiences significantly raised solar activity in a year.
Fluctuations in the magnetic force we experience as we move toward, use, and move away from these sources are far greater than anything that geomagnetic storms (or the geomagnetic field) expose us to.

(Powerful magnets can pause or re-set implanted cardioverter-defibrillators when placed over them, and a large ring magnet can be found on many crash carts. Naturally-paced hearts are immune).

Earth's magnetic field is dynamic, as anyone who's used paper maps and compass over several years knows, and its shape in space is affected by solar activity. However, rates of change at the Earth's surface are relatively slow- slow enough for the strength of the field across Earth to be mapped:

1.JPG

Map courtesy of NOAA/NCEI and CIRES, 2019. Field intensity units are in nanoteslas. Open in new tab to enlarge.

The field intensity does not correlate in any useful way with morbidity, mortality or health outcomes
(e.g. you might find a greater per capita risk of hypothermia in the areas of highest intensity- east Antarctica, and in Siberia- than in the area of lowest intensity- over central South America. Or conversely, a greater risk of Zika virus in central South America than in Antarctica. So there's correlation, but it's not caused by the geomagnetic field).

If you moved from La Paz, Bolivia (field intensity between 23,000 and 24,000 nanotesla) to Hobart, Australia (approx. 62,000 nanotesla) and kept the same lifestyle, I doubt if your risk of MIs, CVAs (discussed in posts above) would increase.

During more intense solar activity, there is more intense auroral activity, roughly centred around the Earth's geomagnetic poles. But I'm going to predict that there isn't an upsurge in serious illness in southern Australia during the day or two that these events last, even though that's the closest inhabited region to the southern geomagnetic pole. (I'm guessing Australia keeps good health records, don't know the situation for Siberia, closest to the north geomagnetic pole).
However, the geomagnetic field is not a fluctuating field as such.

Geomagnetic storms affect large electricity distribution/ wire cable communications networks at ground level because the networks act as huge antennae; it's as if they receive (and conduct) an electromagnetic pulse.
Humans are not huge antennae.
During the Carrington Event of 1859, the largest geomagnetic event on historical record, some telegraph operators received shocks from their machines but there was no associated outbreak of ill-health.
Wikipedia, Carrington Event https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrington_Event
There must have been geomagnetic storms on the same scale or larger than the Carrington Event earlier in our history, but because solar observatories were scarce and there weren't miles of highly conductive cabling, no-one noticed.

Magnetic, crystalline and piezoelectric materials in the brain.

There appear to be very low traces of magnetite distributed in the brain, but no-one's ever suffered ill effects from having a head MRI scan from this material, whereas metal debris or implanted/ inserted/ ingested metals in the body can be dragged through tissue by the MRI field with unpleasant consequences. Presumably any magnetite particles are of very low mass and are firmly anchored to, or encapsulated in, non-ferrous structures/ deposits of proportionately much higher mass.

Kirschvink, Kobayashi-Kirschvink and Woodford, 1992 may have been the first to detect magnetite in the brain, see
"Magnetite biomineralization in the human brain", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 89 (16) August 1992, paper available here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC49775/.
Their abstract concludes,
External Quote:
Biogenic magnetite in the human brain may account for high-field saturation effects observed in the T1 and T2 values of magnetic resonance imaging and, perhaps, for a variety of biological effects of low-frequency magnetic fields.
Note the "perhaps", the non-specificity of "a variety of biological effects" and the year (1992); any evidence of significant effects of magnetic fields on humans in the past 32 years has been tenuous (other than evidence from the directed application of fluctuating fields of great intensity, as in transcranial magnetic stimulation).
MRI scanners have a field of approx. 3 tesla (not nano- or microtesla!), it's a static field, but
External Quote:
That would change, however, if the patient inside the scanner were to rapidly move his or her head back and forth. "Moving quickly induces a time-varying field, so by doing that you are inducing currents in different structures of your brain,” says Legros. Those currents may lead to nausea, loss of balance, a metallic taste in your mouth, or in some cases, magnetophosphenes.
(But not heart attack, stroke, or conversion to suicidal terrorist, see earlier posts),
sourced from "What Magnetic Fields Do to Your Brain and Body", Erica Tennenhouse, May 2018 for Discover magazine website, quoting Alexandre Legros, medical biophysicist at the Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University, Ontario.


It's not known if magnetite in the body has any physiological role, if it might have had a physiological role in our distant ancestors, or if it might be deleterious. It is not really known if it is taken up from the environment or produced in vivo (there's iron in blood, of course).
More significant magnetite deposits in some other organisms might have a role in navigation.

One recent paper claims that there is a significant relationship between geomagnetic disturbances and "vagrancy" (creatures ending up at unexpected places) during the autumn migrations of some bird species:
"Geomagnetic disturbance associated with increased vagrancy in migratory landbirds", Tonelli, Youngflesh and Tingley, 2023,
Scientific Reports 13, paper accessible here https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-26586-0#Fig1
-although the proportion of birds that go vagrant is very low.

Strangely the researchers report a negative relationship between observed solar activity and bird vagrancy,
External Quote:
This was contrary to our hypothesis that solar activity would cause disorientation and increase vagrancy, and was surprising given the positive correlation between solar activity and geomagnetic disturbance
External Quote:
Results from this interaction model provide strong evidence for a negative interaction during fall migration, suggesting that during periods of high solar activity, birds are less sensitive to the effect of geomagnetic disturbance
(Tonelli, Youngflesh and Tingley, ibid., my emphasis.)
which might imply either (1) solar activity and the chosen instances of geomagnetic disturbance do not in fact correlate, or (2) the found correlation between bird vagrancy and geomagnetic disturbance is incorrect, or weaker than the authors conclude or (3, unlikely) the authors have overlooked the time lag between observed solar activity and geomagnetic disturbance.

External Quote:
Our results suggest that the combination of high solar activity and geomagnetic disturbance leads to either a pause in migration or a switch to other cues during fall migration—either would ultimately mitigate the misorientation effect of simultaneously high geomagnetic disturbance.
(Ibid.)
-But how would birds sense increased solar activity except by geomagnetic effects? They probably can't see sunspots or solar flares. It must be questionable if altering their navigation strategy from a magnetic-field guided approach during increased solar activity (which they probably can't sense), only to change back again when the solar activity subsides, but its geomagnetic effects kick in (which they might be able to detect) makes any evolutionary sense.


Humans do not appear to have any innate sense of where north or south are, although there are visual clues in many environments which we might not be consciously aware of. It seems unlikely that we are more spatially disorientated during geomagnetic disturbances.

External Quote:
Researchers have conducted a number of experiments to determine whether humans have a magnetic compass sense, but these have been inconclusive. Expert opinion is fairly unanimous that there are no convincing indications of such a sense in humans. On the other hand, there is good evidence that many insects, birds and reptiles have such a sense, although it remains unclear under which conditions they make use of it.
Psychology Professor C. Randy Gallistel at UCLA, in
"Do humans have some kind of homing instinct, possibly involving navigation by magnetism like certain birds do?",
Scientific American 21 October 1998, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-humans-have-some-kind/

Maher, Ahmed et al. proposed that magnetite in the brain is an industrial pollutant, absorbed from the environment via the olfactory bulb,
"Magnetite pollution nanoparticles in the human brain", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113 (39) September 2016, abstract accessed here https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27601646/
Examining 37 post-mortem brains, the authors describe higher concentrations towards the front of the brain which they believe supports their hypothesis.

It is noted that magnetite nanoparticles are very commonly encountered (and presumably inhaled);
External Quote:
Our magnetic measurements of roadside airborne PM [in Lancaster, United Kingdom (28)] indicate magnetite particle numbers equivalent to ∼2.01 × 108 m−3 of roadside air, for ∼50-nm-sized magnetite particles, for an ambient PM10 concentration of ∼40 µg⋅m−3 (compared, for example, with the annual mean PM10 for Mexico City of between ∼30 and 70 µg⋅m−3).
External Quote:
In addition to occupational settings [including, for example, exposure to printer toner powders (36)], higher concentrations of magnetite pollution nanoparticles are likely to arise in the indoor environment from open fires (25) or poorly sealed stoves used for cooking and/or heating, and in the outdoor environment from vehicle (especially diesel) and/or industrial PM sources.
Barbara A. Maher, lead author above, has gone on to discuss the possibility of cerebral magnetite (and other iron-rich particles) being a risk for neurodegenerative diseases:
"Airborne Magnetite- and Iron-Rich Pollution Nanoparticles: Potential Neurotoxicants and Environmental Risk Factors for Neurodegenerative Disease, Including Alzheimer's Disease",
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 21 (2), 2019, abstract available here https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31381513/

If you scroll down on either of the last 2 links, you'll find that there's quite a bit of research investigating concerns about ferrous metal nanoparticles in the brain and heart. Don't lose too much sleep over it, we already know that environments polluted with heavy metals are bad for your health, and it's practically impossible to assess how much magnetite/ other iron there is in a living brain or heart at the mo., so it's not a diagnostic indicator.

Gilder, Wack, Kaub et al. (2018) mapped the distribution of magnetite across 7 post-mortem brains, described in
"Distribution of magnetic remanence carriers in the human brain", Scientific Reports 8,
paper accessible here https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-29766-z

As far as I understand it, it seems a well-conducted study. There's considered discussion of possible confounding variables which might contribute to both type 1 and type 2 experimental error. The small sample size is acknowledged.

The researchers were aware of the 2016 Maher et al. paper, but reach different conclusions: There appears to be more magnetite in the cerebellum and brainstem (particularly, it seems, the medulla oblongata) than in the cortex, which might be evidence for physiological, not environmental origins.

Distrib. magnetite in brain Gilder et al 2018.jpg

External Quote:
Contour maps using the Ferret (http://www.ferret.noaa.gov/Ferret) color scale of the median, mass normalized, saturation isothermal remanent magnetization (SIRM) values using the cut-off method. (a) Horizontal view from dorsal (above) of the cerebral cortex only. (b) Mid-sagittal view of the entire brain including cerebral cortex, cerebellum and brain stem.
-Fig. 4, Gilder et al., ibid.

If magnetite in the brain affects its immediate cellular environment in the short term (as opposed to longer term chemo-physical neurotoxic effects as proposed by Maher and others) and is affected by fluctuating magnetic fields, we're in trouble.
The medulla oblongata is responsible for respiratory drive, influences heart rate according to systemic demands, and mediates blood pressure (amongst other things). You'd want it to perform consistently.
Fortunately, there is no evidence whatsoever of the medulla being affected in any way whatsoever by geomagnetic events.
Maybe nausea produced by rapidly moving the head in an MRI scanner may be connected to the bulbar reflexes which are governed by the medulla oblongata but (1) I'm speculating, (2) that's in a field of approx. 3 tesla, (3) as pathology it's trivial and entirely transient, and (4) the vestibular apparatus is probably a better candidate.
We do not experience wildly fluctuating heart rate and blood pressure, or respiratory arrest, as a result of geomagnetic storms. Not so much as a brief bulbar symptom. It would be noticed.

Now, the pineal gland.

Gilder et al. (ibid):
External Quote:
The median SIRM magnetizations for the olfactory bulb, pineal gland and choroid plexus were over an order of magnitude higher than those for the cerebral cortex (Fig. 2).
External Quote:
Our measurements of the olfactory bulb showed they were over an order of magnitude more magnetic on average than the cerebral cortex (Fig. 2). However, the pineal gland and choroid plexus that are topographically situated far from the olfactory bulb and have no direct connection to it, were just as magnetic...
Taken from Gilder et al.'s Fig. 2,
External Quote:
Histograms of the mass normalized saturation isothermal magnetizations (SIRM) separating the specimens by anatomy
(see paper for more information, e.g. explanation of cut-off, and charts for cerebral cortex, cerebellum and brainstem)

Capture2.JPG


It is difficult to know how representative this is due to the small number of subject donors (7; remember 2 x olfactory bulbs per person). There are different numbers of specimens from each anatomical area (e.g. the histogram at right shows results for 5 pineal glands, 4 samples of choroid plexus, 6 olfactory bulbs), I haven't done the maths but at a glance the average magnetization of the pineal gland and olfactory bulb samples are very approximately equal, choroid plexus maybe slightly less.

What isn't mentioned is that the choroid plexus and the pineal gland are both well-known for developing calcification, often clearly visible on head CTs.
External Quote:

Normal intracranial calcifications can be defined as all age-related physiologic and neurodegenerative calcifications that are unaccompanied by any evidence of disease and have no demonstrable pathological cause.
pineal gland:
-seen in 2/3 of the adult population and increases with age
-calcification over 1 cm in diameter or in patients under nine years of age may be suggestive of a neoplasm
habenula [not relevant here]
choroid plexus:
-a very common finding, usually in the atrial portions of the lateral ventricles (choroid glomus)
-calcification in the third or fourth ventricle or in patients less than nine years of age is uncommon
[list continues].
"Normal intracranial calcifications", Radiopaedia.org website, last revised by Yaïr Glick, 29 November 2023 (minor editing to format), https://radiopaedia.org/articles/normal-intracranial-calcifications

The choroid plexus and pineal gland were known as locations of physiological mineralization, at the visible level, long before microscopic traces of magnetite were found.
External Quote:
The choroid plexus is also a major source of transferrin secretion that plays a part in iron homeostasis in the brain
(Wikipedia, Choroid plexus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choroid_plexus)
External Quote:
Unlike most of the mammalian brain, the pineal gland is not isolated from the body by the blood–brain barrier system;[12] it has profuse blood flow, second only [proportional to mass; John J.] to the kidney,
(Wikipedia, Pineal gland, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineal_gland),
so perhaps we should not be too surprised if it turns out that the pineal gland and choroid plexus, each frequently associated with calcium-based mineralisation, manage to produce a (vastly smaller) amount of iron-based minerals with the iron available.
(I don't want to seem too glib about this; any process of production, and any identified function or health implications of magnetite in these structures, would be potentially important finds.)

The pineal gland has been of interest to purveyors of Woo students of the neglected sciences for centuries, probably because it's roughly in the middle of the brain.
With great generosity they left finding out what it's composed of, how it develops and what it actually does to others.

The gland produces melatonin, which plays a role in regulating our sleep patterns in conjunction with external light levels. The melatonin might have a role in new bone deposition, and maybe to some extent in other physiological roles. Perhaps most importantly in humans, the pineal gland appears to inhibit functions of the pituitary gland throughout childhood, delaying puberty. Children with a damaged pineal may undergo "precocious puberty" (horrible outdated term) with developmental, social and educational consequences.

The pineal gland is not "light sensitive" any more than the visual cortex is; if it's ever exposed to light you're either in surgery or on your way to a better place (and I don't mean New Zealand). It doesn't play any direct role in cognition (language, memory, problem solving, perception); its influence on our circadian rhythms might affect alertness at some times to some degree but much, much less than the reticular activating system does.
You can live a productive life without the pineal gland,
External Quote:

Can a person live without a pineal gland?
Yes, you can live without your pineal gland. However, your body may have a difficult time with sleeping patterns and other physiologic functions related to the circadian rhythm without a pineal gland due to a lack of melatonin.
(Cleveland Clinic webpage "Pineal Gland", last reviewed 22/06/2022 https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23334-pineal-gland, see also Wikipedia, "Pinealectomy", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinealectomy)
so it probably isn't the seat of your soul, or responsible for significant behaviours (post-adolescence anyway), or our perception of reality. Nor is it the locus for interaction between the immaterial spirit/ mind and the physical body (take that, Descartes!)


I found one reasonably well-written blog which attempts to make the case for magnetite in the pineal gland being affected by outside forces, such as magnetic fields. It also suggests that induced piezoelectric effects in crystals in the pineal gland might have some effect on us.
"Piezoelectricity in the Pineal Gland",
https://abnormalways.com/physics/piezoelectricity/piezoelectricity-in-the-pineal-gland/
"Magnetic Crystals? In your brain?" (mainly about magnetite)
https://abnormalways.com/crystals/magnetic-crystals-in-your-brain/
...from the Abnormal Ways blog. The author gives her name as Abby, and has a BA in physics.

At a quick read-through the articles superficially make sense and have a "conventional" popular science journalism feel to them.
But facts are used haphazardly, as partial truths to support unsupportable hypotheses, e.g., some materials show piezoelectric effects (true), such materials demonstrate reverse piezoelectric effects- they can demonstrate structural deformation if a sufficient electric field is applied (true)- therefore structures made from materials which can demonstrate piezoelectric effects can have their properties altered to an extent that necessarily impacts on their normal function by electric (or magnetic) fields that are commonly encountered (sometimes but rarely true).
External Quote:
The pineal gland has a unique arrangement of piezoelectric crystals.
-Abby, Abnormal Ways. No evidence for this is cited. Gilder, Wack, Kaub et al. (2018), see above, found differences in anatomical distribution but no indications of arrangement per se, no organised or pre-determined structure.

Abby quotes a New York Times 1992 article,
External Quote:
Epidemiological studies over the last decade have suggested a possible but inconclusive link between diseases like brain cancer and childhood leukemia and electromagnetic fields from power lines and certain household appliances
...which from 2024's vantage point looks like a very weak source for such a scary claim.

External Quote:
The crystals in the pineal gland are at least calcite, vaterite, aragonite, and hydroxyapatite. [3] These crystals are piezoelectric under certain conditions
Abnormal Ways, ibid.
Calcite, vaterite, and aragonite are all types of calcium carbonate (the main ingredient in chalk, or limescale).
Calcification of the pineal gland (and the choroid plexus) has been known about for decades. At present the consensus appears to be that calcification in the pineal gland and some other brain areas is (1) present, at the visible scale, in a significant percentage of people (2) increases with age (3) doesn't appear to serve any useful purpose (4) is unlikely to be harmful, or indicate anything that is (see "Normal intracranial calcifications" above).

Crystals of calcium carbonate can demonstrate piezoelectric effects, but if you hold a stick of chalk during a geomagnetic storm, or watch the limescale in your kettle, I doubt much happens. I'll predict even if you used an ammeter, you wouldn't detect any change even with a really big chalk stick.
Hydroxyapatite is the largest mineral component of human bone (50% by volume, 70% by weight according to Wikipedia, "Hydroxyapatite", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxyapatite).
I've known senior folk claim they could feel oncoming cold weather or storms in their bones, but not geomagnetic events.

There is no evidence that any cerebral materials exhibit significant direct (not inverse) piezoelectric effect in vivo.
The pressures needed to exert sufficient mechanical strain might be problematic (intracranial pressure rise of >30mm Hg above normal can be dangerous, >40 or so fatal, remembering atmospheric pressure at sea level is 760 mm Hg).

We ingest sucrose (table sugar) which has piezoelectric properties. It doesn't do weird stuff during geomagnetic storms, or if you pour it into an electric-powered food blender. In fact,
External Quote:
Most materials exhibit at least weak piezoelectric responses. Trivial examples include sucrose (table sugar), DNA...
(Wikipedia, "Piezoelectricity", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezoelectricity, my emphasis.)
Luckily geomagnetic events do not appear to alter our DNA. Because of its central-ish location, presumably DNA in pineal gland cells is less susceptible to external electro-magnetic influences than the DNA in almost any other cerebral structure.


The Abnormal Ways articles have other problems;
External Quote:
In conclusion, octo-hexahedral magnetite in the brain is likely functional and aids in memory...
from Abnormal Ways, "Magnetic Crystals? In your brain?", ibid.
but the cited supporting papers are, ahem, questionable, e.g. Abby's reference 9,
"Is magnetite a universal memory molecule?", Fredrik C. Størmer, Medical Hypotheses 83 (5), November 2014,
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987714003120;
first line of abstract:
External Quote:
Human stem cells possess memory, and consequently all living human cells must have a memory system.
First line of conclusion,
External Quote:
Memory is present in human stem cells and therefore all human cells must have a memory system.
And these gems,
External Quote:
Due to the rapid speed and accuracy of our brain, memory and its functions must be governed by quantum mechanics.
External Quote:
I am not aware of any reports suggesting a general memory storage mechanism for living organisms.
The author is apparently unaware of biopsychology, cognitive science and connectionist models of memory.

On her "About" page, Abnormal Ways' Abby posts this:
External Quote:
Through the initial research and disclosure conducted through this entity (Abnormal Ways), I will construct a method for creating one’s own healing frequencies ACCURATELY, MEASURABLY, and with NO ARTIFACTS for infusion into fluids (liquid, gas) and the body. The frequencies will be so specific that they can be represented as cross-sections from one’s own imagination seat.
It's a site that makes pseudo-scientific claims, throws in a bit of fear-mongering sometimes at odds with its apparent narrative (sort of, "Crystals are great! They might give you dementia!") but with the promise of a totally safe feelgood remedy.

Overall, I don't think there's any evidence that the materials discussed above (magnetite nanoparticles, calcium carbonate, hydroxyapatite) alter the functioning of the pineal gland in the presence of fluctuating magnetic fields of the magnitude that we are likely to encounter, and it's highly improbable that the weak intensity of geomagnetic storm effects experienced at the Earth's surface impinge on the pineal gland (or any part of the brain, or other organ) at all.

Many of us here will have lived through several "recognised" geomagnetic storms, and unless we were unlucky enough to be in an area with an electricity outage, or were perhaps radio operators, astronomers or a few other select trades, would have known nothing about it.
 
Last edited:
From the discussions above, I'm not at all persuaded that "the correlations" exist. No correlation = probably no causal link. No causal link makes consideration of theoretical mechanisms to explain a (probably) non-existent relationship speculative at best.
The geomagnetic field is large (obviously) but weak. A fridge magnet is about 100-200 times stronger.
Does moving towards or away from a fridge magnet significantly, or even detectably, affect our health? No.
(I realise there's already been discussion of static v. fluctuating fields- fridge magnets v. geomagnetic events- in earlier posts).
But most of us are close to fridge magnets, or hairdryers, or any number of electrical devices / sources of magnetism for longer durations in any given year (probably any given week) than the Earth experiences significantly raised solar activity in a year.
Fluctuations in the magnetic force we experience as we move toward, use, and move away from these sources are far greater than anything that geomagnetic storms (or the geomagnetic field) expose us to.

(Powerful magnets can pause or re-set implanted cardioverter-defibrillators when placed over them, and a large ring magnet can be found on many crash carts. Naturally-paced hearts are immune).

Earth's magnetic field is dynamic, as anyone who's used paper maps and compass over several years knows, and its shape in space is affected by solar activity. However, rates of change at the Earth's surface are relatively slow- slow enough for the strength of the field across Earth to be mapped:

View attachment 66144
Map courtesy of NOAA/NCEI and CIRES, 2019. Field intensity units are in nanoteslas. Open in new tab to enlarge.

The field intensity does not correlate in any useful way with morbidity, mortality or health outcomes
(e.g. you might find a greater per capita risk of hypothermia in the areas of highest intensity- east Antarctica, and in Siberia- than in the area of lowest intensity- over central South America. Or conversely, a greater risk of Zika virus in central South America than in Antarctica. So there's correlation, but it's not caused by the geomagnetic field).

If you moved from La Paz, Bolivia (field intensity between 23,000 and 24,000 nanotesla) to Hobart, Australia (approx. 62,000 nanotesla) and kept the same lifestyle, I doubt if your risk of MIs, CVAs (discussed in posts above) would increase.

During more intense solar activity, there is more intense auroral activity, roughly centred around the Earth's geomagnetic poles. But I'm going to predict that there isn't an upsurge in serious illness in southern Australia during the day or two that these events last, even though that's the closest inhabited region to the southern geomagnetic pole. (I'm guessing Australia keeps good health records, don't know the situation for Siberia, closest to the north geomagnetic pole).
However, the geomagnetic field is not a fluctuating field as such.

Geomagnetic storms affect large electricity distribution/ wire cable communications networks at ground level because the networks act as huge antennae; it's as if they receive (and conduct) an electromagnetic pulse.
Humans are not huge antennae.
During the Carrington Event of 1859, the largest geomagnetic event on historical record, some telegraph operators received shocks from their machines but there was no associated outbreak of ill-health.
Wikipedia, Carrington Event https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrington_Event
There must have been geomagnetic storms on the same scale or larger than the Carrington Event earlier in our history, but because solar observatories were scarce and there weren't miles of highly conductive cabling, no-one noticed.

Magnetic, crystalline and piezoelectric materials in the brain.

There appear to be very low traces of magnetite distributed in the brain, but no-one's ever suffered ill effects from having a head MRI scan from this material, whereas metal debris or implanted/ inserted/ ingested metals in the body can be dragged through tissue by the MRI field with unpleasant consequences. Presumably any magnetite particles are of very low mass and are firmly anchored to, or encapsulated in, non-ferrous structures/ deposits of proportionately much higher mass.

Kirschvink, Kobayashi-Kirschvink and Woodford, 1992 may have been the first to detect magnetite in the brain, see
"Magnetite biomineralization in the human brain", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 89 (16) August 1992, paper available here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC49775/.
Their abstract concludes,
External Quote:
Biogenic magnetite in the human brain may account for high-field saturation effects observed in the T1 and T2 values of magnetic resonance imaging and, perhaps, for a variety of biological effects of low-frequency magnetic fields.
Note the "perhaps", the non-specificity of "a variety of biological effects" and the year (1992); any evidence of significant effects of magnetic fields on humans in the past 32 years has been tenuous (other than evidence from the directed application of fluctuating fields of great intensity, as in transcranial magnetic stimulation).
MRI scanners have a field of approx. 3 tesla (not nano- or microtesla!), it's a static field, but
External Quote:
That would change, however, if the patient inside the scanner were to rapidly move his or her head back and forth. "Moving quickly induces a time-varying field, so by doing that you are inducing currents in different structures of your brain,” says Legros. Those currents may lead to nausea, loss of balance, a metallic taste in your mouth, or in some cases, magnetophosphenes.
(But not heart attack, stroke, or conversion to suicidal terrorist, see earlier posts),
sourced from "What Magnetic Fields Do to Your Brain and Body", Erica Tennenhouse, May 2018 for Discover magazine website, quoting Alexandre Legros, medical biophysicist at the Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University, Ontario.


It's not known if magnetite in the body has any physiological role, if it might have had a physiological role in our distant ancestors, or if it might be deleterious. It is not really known if it is taken up from the environment or produced in vivo (there's iron in blood, of course).
More significant magnetite deposits in some other organisms might have a role in navigation.

One recent paper claims that there is a significant relationship between geomagnetic disturbances and "vagrancy" (creatures ending up at unexpected places) during the autumn migrations of some bird species:
"Geomagnetic disturbance associated with increased vagrancy in migratory landbirds", Tonelli, Youngflesh and Tingley, 2023,
Scientific Reports 13, paper accessible here https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-26586-0#Fig1
-although the proportion of birds that go vagrant is very low.

Strangely the researchers report a negative relationship between observed solar activity and bird vagrancy,
External Quote:
This was contrary to our hypothesis that solar activity would cause disorientation and increase vagrancy, and was surprising given the positive correlation between solar activity and geomagnetic disturbance
External Quote:
Results from this interaction model provide strong evidence for a negative interaction during fall migration, suggesting that during periods of high solar activity, birds are less sensitive to the effect of geomagnetic disturbance
(Tonelli, Youngflesh and Tingley, ibid., my emphasis.)
which might imply either (1) solar activity and the chosen instances of geomagnetic disturbance do not in fact correlate, or (2) the found correlation between bird vagrancy and geomagnetic disturbance is incorrect, or weaker than the authors conclude or (3, unlikely) the authors have overlooked the time lag between observed solar activity and geomagnetic disturbance.

External Quote:
Our results suggest that the combination of high solar activity and geomagnetic disturbance leads to either a pause in migration or a switch to other cues during fall migration—either would ultimately mitigate the misorientation effect of simultaneously high geomagnetic disturbance.
(Ibid.)
-But how would birds sense increased solar activity except by geomagnetic effects? They probably can't see sunspots or solar flares. It must be questionable if altering their navigation strategy from a magnetic-field guided approach during increased solar activity (which they probably can't sense), only to change back again when the solar activity subsides, but its geomagnetic effects kick in (which they might be able to detect) makes any evolutionary sense.


Humans do not appear to have any innate sense of where north or south are, although there are visual clues in many environments which we might not be consciously aware of. It seems unlikely that we are more spatially disorientated during geomagnetic disturbances.

External Quote:
Researchers have conducted a number of experiments to determine whether humans have a magnetic compass sense, but these have been inconclusive. Expert opinion is fairly unanimous that there are no convincing indications of such a sense in humans. On the other hand, there is good evidence that many insects, birds and reptiles have such a sense, although it remains unclear under which conditions they make use of it.
Psychology Professor C. Randy Gallistel at UCLA, in
"Do humans have some kind of homing instinct, possibly involving navigation by magnetism like certain birds do?",
Scientific American 21 October 1998, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-humans-have-some-kind/

Maher, Ahmed et al. proposed that magnetite in the brain is an industrial pollutant, absorbed from the environment via the olfactory bulb,
"Magnetite pollution nanoparticles in the human brain", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113 (39) September 2016, abstract accessed here https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27601646/
Examining 37 post-mortem brains, the authors describe higher concentrations towards the front of the brain which they believe supports their hypothesis.

It is noted that magnetite nanoparticles are very commonly encountered (and presumably inhaled);
External Quote:
Our magnetic measurements of roadside airborne PM [in Lancaster, United Kingdom (28)] indicate magnetite particle numbers equivalent to ∼2.01 × 108 m−3 of roadside air, for ∼50-nm-sized magnetite particles, for an ambient PM10 concentration of ∼40 µg⋅m−3 (compared, for example, with the annual mean PM10 for Mexico City of between ∼30 and 70 µg⋅m−3).
External Quote:
In addition to occupational settings [including, for example, exposure to printer toner powders (36)], higher concentrations of magnetite pollution nanoparticles are likely to arise in the indoor environment from open fires (25) or poorly sealed stoves used for cooking and/or heating, and in the outdoor environment from vehicle (especially diesel) and/or industrial PM sources.
Barbara A. Maher, lead author above, has gone on to discuss the possibility of cerebral magnetite (and other iron-rich particles) being a risk for neurodegenerative diseases:
"Airborne Magnetite- and Iron-Rich Pollution Nanoparticles: Potential Neurotoxicants and Environmental Risk Factors for Neurodegenerative Disease, Including Alzheimer's Disease",
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 21 (2), 2019, abstract available here https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31381513/

If you scroll down on either of the last 2 links, you'll find that there's quite a bit of research investigating concerns about ferrous metal nanoparticles in the brain and heart. Don't lose too much sleep over it, we already know that environments polluted with heavy metals are bad for your health, and it's practically impossible to assess how much magnetite/ other iron there is in a living brain or heart at the mo., so it's not a diagnostic indicator.

Gilder, Wack, Kaub et al. (2018) mapped the distribution of magnetite across 7 post-mortem brains, described in
"Distribution of magnetic remanence carriers in the human brain", Scientific Reports 8,
paper accessible here https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-29766-z

As far as I understand it, it seems a well-conducted study. There's considered discussion of possible confounding variables which might contribute to both type 1 and type 2 experimental error. The small sample size is acknowledged.

The researchers were aware of the 2016 Maher et al. paper, but reach different conclusions: There appears to be more magnetite in the cerebellum and brainstem (particularly, it seems, the medulla oblongata) than in the cortex, which might be evidence for physiological, not environmental origins.

View attachment 66214
External Quote:
Contour maps using the Ferret (http://www.ferret.noaa.gov/Ferret) color scale of the median, mass normalized, saturation isothermal remanent magnetization (SIRM) values using the cut-off method. (a) Horizontal view from dorsal (above) of the cerebral cortex only. (b) Mid-sagittal view of the entire brain including cerebral cortex, cerebellum and brain stem.
-Fig. 4, Gilder et al., ibid.

If magnetite in the brain affects its immediate cellular environment in the short term (as opposed to longer term chemo-physical neurotoxic effects as proposed by Maher and others) and is affected by fluctuating magnetic fields, we're in trouble.
The medulla oblongata is responsible for respiratory drive, influences heart rate according to systemic demands, and mediates blood pressure (amongst other things). You'd want it to perform consistently.
Fortunately, there is no evidence whatsoever of the medulla being affected in any way whatsoever by geomagnetic events.
Maybe nausea produced by rapidly moving the head in an MRI scanner may be connected to the bulbar reflexes which are governed by the medulla oblongata but (1) I'm speculating, (2) that's in a field of approx. 3 tesla, (3) as pathology it's trivial and entirely transient, and (4) the vestibular apparatus is probably a better candidate.
We do not experience wildly fluctuating heart rate and blood pressure, or respiratory arrest, as a result of geomagnetic storms. Not so much as a brief bulbar symptom. It would be noticed.

Now, the pineal gland.

Gilder et al. (ibid):
External Quote:
The median SIRM magnetizations for the olfactory bulb, pineal gland and choroid plexus were over an order of magnitude higher than those for the cerebral cortex (Fig. 2).
External Quote:
Our measurements of the olfactory bulb showed they were over an order of magnitude more magnetic on average than the cerebral cortex (Fig. 2). However, the pineal gland and choroid plexus that are topographically situated far from the olfactory bulb and have no direct connection to it, were just as magnetic...
Taken from Gilder et al.'s Fig. 2,
External Quote:
Histograms of the mass normalized saturation isothermal magnetizations (SIRM) separating the specimens by anatomy
(see paper for more information, e.g. explanation of cut-off, and charts for cerebral cortex, cerebellum and brainstem)

View attachment 66219

It is difficult to know how representative this is due to the small number of subject donors (7; remember 2 x olfactory bulbs per person). There are different numbers of specimens from each anatomical area (e.g. the histogram at right shows results for 5 pineal glands, 4 samples of choroid plexus, 6 olfactory bulbs), I haven't done the maths but at a glance the average magnetization of the pineal gland and olfactory bulb samples are very approximately equal, choroid plexus maybe slightly less.

What isn't mentioned is that the choroid plexus and the pineal gland are both well-known for developing calcification, often clearly visible on head CTs.
External Quote:

Normal intracranial calcifications can be defined as all age-related physiologic and neurodegenerative calcifications that are unaccompanied by any evidence of disease and have no demonstrable pathological cause.
pineal gland:
-seen in 2/3 of the adult population and increases with age
-calcification over 1 cm in diameter or in patients under nine years of age may be suggestive of a neoplasm
habenula [not relevant here]
choroid plexus:
-a very common finding, usually in the atrial portions of the lateral ventricles (choroid glomus)
-calcification in the third or fourth ventricle or in patients less than nine years of age is uncommon
[list continues].
"Normal intracranial calcifications", Radiopaedia.org website, last revised by Yaïr Glick, 29 November 2023 (minor editing to format), https://radiopaedia.org/articles/normal-intracranial-calcifications

The choroid plexus and pineal gland were known as locations of physiological mineralization, at the visible level, long before microscopic traces of magnetite were found.
External Quote:
The choroid plexus is also a major source of transferrin secretion that plays a part in iron homeostasis in the brain
(Wikipedia, Choroid plexus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choroid_plexus)
External Quote:
Unlike most of the mammalian brain, the pineal gland is not isolated from the body by the blood–brain barrier system;[12] it has profuse blood flow, second only [proportional to mass; John J.] to the kidney,
(Wikipedia, Pineal gland, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineal_gland),
so perhaps we should not be too surprised if it turns out that the pineal gland and choroid plexus, each frequently associated with calcium-based mineralisation, manage to produce a (vastly smaller) amount of iron-based minerals with the iron available.
(I don't want to seem too glib about this; any process of production, and any identified function or health implications of magnetite in these structures, would be potentially important finds.)

The pineal gland has been of interest to purveyors of Woo students of the neglected sciences for centuries, probably because it's roughly in the middle of the brain.
With great generosity they left finding out what it's composed of, how it develops and what it actually does to others.

The gland produces melatonin, which plays a role in regulating our sleep patterns in conjunction with external light levels. The melatonin might have a role in new bone deposition, and maybe to some extent in other physiological roles. Perhaps most importantly in humans, the pineal gland appears to inhibit functions of the pituitary gland throughout childhood, delaying puberty. Children with a damaged pineal may undergo "precocious puberty" (horrible outdated term) with developmental, social and educational consequences.

The pineal gland is not "light sensitive" any more than the visual cortex is; if it's ever exposed to light you're either in surgery or on your way to a better place (and I don't mean New Zealand). It doesn't play any direct role in cognition (language, memory, problem solving, perception); its influence on our circadian rhythms might affect alertness at some times to some degree but much, much less than the reticular activating system does.
You can live a productive life without the pineal gland,
External Quote:

Can a person live without a pineal gland?
Yes, you can live without your pineal gland. However, your body may have a difficult time with sleeping patterns and other physiologic functions related to the circadian rhythm without a pineal gland due to a lack of melatonin.
(Cleveland Clinic webpage "Pineal Gland", last reviewed 22/06/2022 https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23334-pineal-gland, see also Wikipedia, "Pinealectomy", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinealectomy)
so it probably isn't the seat of your soul, or responsible for significant behaviours (post-adolescence anyway), or our perception of reality. Nor is it the locus for interaction between the immaterial spirit/ mind and the physical body (take that, Descartes!)


I found one reasonably well-written blog which attempts to make the case for magnetite in the pineal gland being affected by outside forces, such as magnetic fields. It also suggests that induced piezoelectric effects in crystals in the pineal gland might have some effect on us.
"Piezoelectricity in the Pineal Gland",
https://abnormalways.com/physics/piezoelectricity/piezoelectricity-in-the-pineal-gland/
"Magnetic Crystals? In your brain?" (mainly about magnetite)
https://abnormalways.com/crystals/magnetic-crystals-in-your-brain/
...from the Abnormal Ways blog. The author gives her name as Abby, and has a BA in physics.

At a quick read-through the articles superficially make sense and have a "conventional" popular science journalism feel to them.
But facts are used haphazardly, as partial truths to support unsupportable hypotheses, e.g., some materials show piezoelectric effects (true), such materials demonstrate reverse piezoelectric effects- they can demonstrate structural deformation if a sufficient electric field is applied (true)- therefore structures made from materials which can demonstrate piezoelectric effects can have their properties altered to an extent that necessarily impacts on their normal function by electric (or magnetic) fields that are commonly encountered (sometimes but rarely true).
External Quote:
The pineal gland has a unique arrangement of piezoelectric crystals.
-Abby, Abnormal Ways. No evidence for this is cited. Gilder, Wack, Kaub et al. (2018), see above, found differences in anatomical distribution but no indications of arrangement per se, no organised or pre-determined structure.

Abby quotes a New York Times 1992 article,
External Quote:
Epidemiological studies over the last decade have suggested a possible but inconclusive link between diseases like brain cancer and childhood leukemia and electromagnetic fields from power lines and certain household appliances
...which from 2024's vantage point looks like a very weak source for such a scary claim.

External Quote:
The crystals in the pineal gland are at least calcite, vaterite, aragonite, and hydroxyapatite. [3] These crystals are piezoelectric under certain conditions
Abnormal Ways, ibid.
Calcite, vaterite, and aragonite are all types of calcium carbonate (the main ingredient in chalk, or limescale).
Calcification of the pineal gland (and the choroid plexus) has been known about for decades. At present the consensus appears to be that calcification in the pineal gland and some other brain areas is (1) present, at the visible scale, in a significant percentage of people (2) increases with age (3) doesn't appear to serve any useful purpose (4) is unlikely to be harmful, or indicate anything that is (see "Normal intracranial calcifications" above).

Crystals of calcium carbonate can demonstrate piezoelectric effects, but if you hold a stick of chalk during a geomagnetic storm, or watch the limescale in your kettle, I doubt much happens. I'll predict even if you used an ammeter, you wouldn't detect any change even with a really big chalk stick.
Hydroxyapatite is the largest mineral component of human bone (50% by volume, 70% by weight according to Wikipedia, "Hydroxyapatite", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxyapatite).
I've known senior folk claim they could feel oncoming cold weather or storms in their bones, but not geomagnetic events.

There is no evidence that any cerebral materials exhibit significant direct (not inverse) piezoelectric effect in vivo.
The pressures needed to exert sufficient mechanical strain might be problematic (intracranial pressure rise of >30mm Hg above normal can be dangerous, >40 or so fatal, remembering atmospheric pressure at sea level is 760 mm Hg).

We ingest sucrose (table sugar) which has piezoelectric properties. It doesn't do weird stuff during geomagnetic storms, or if you pour it into an electric-powered food blender. In fact,
External Quote:
Most materials exhibit at least weak piezoelectric responses. Trivial examples include sucrose (table sugar), DNA...
(Wikipedia, "Piezoelectricity", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezoelectricity, my emphasis.)
Luckily geomagnetic events do not appear to alter our DNA. Because of its central-ish location, presumably DNA in pineal gland cells is less susceptible to external electro-magnetic influences than the DNA in almost any other cerebral structure.


The Abnormal Ways articles have other problems;
External Quote:
In conclusion, octo-hexahedral magnetite in the brain is likely functional and aids in memory...
from Abnormal Ways, "Magnetic Crystals? In your brain?", ibid.
but the cited supporting papers are, ahem, questionable, e.g. Abby's reference 9,
"Is magnetite a universal memory molecule?", Fredrik C. Størmer, Medical Hypotheses 83 (5), November 2014,
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987714003120;
first line of abstract:
External Quote:
Human stem cells possess memory, and consequently all living human cells must have a memory system.
First line of conclusion,
External Quote:
Memory is present in human stem cells and therefore all human cells must have a memory system.
And these gems,
External Quote:
Due to the rapid speed and accuracy of our brain, memory and its functions must be governed by quantum mechanics.
External Quote:
I am not aware of any reports suggesting a general memory storage mechanism for living organisms.
The author is apparently unaware of biopsychology, cognitive science and connectionist models of memory.

On her "About" page, Abnormal Ways' Abby posts this:
External Quote:
Through the initial research and disclosure conducted through this entity (Abnormal Ways), I will construct a method for creating one’s own healing frequencies ACCURATELY, MEASURABLY, and with NO ARTIFACTS for infusion into fluids (liquid, gas) and the body. The frequencies will be so specific that they can be represented as cross-sections from one’s own imagination seat.
It's a site that makes pseudo-scientific claims, throws in a bit of fear-mongering sometimes at odds with its apparent narrative (sort of, "Crystals are great! They might give you dementia!") but with the promise of a totally safe feelgood remedy.

Overall, I don't think there's any evidence that the materials discussed above (magnetite nanoparticles, calcium carbonate, hydroxyapatite) alter the functioning of the pineal gland in the presence of fluctuating magnetic fields of the magnitude that we are likely to encounter, and it's highly improbable that the weak intensity of geomagnetic storm effects experienced at the Earth's surface impinge on the pineal gland (or any part of the brain, or other organ) at all.

Many of us here will have lived through several "recognised" geomagnetic storms, and unless we were unlucky enough to be in an area with an electricity outage, or were perhaps radio operators, astronomers or a few other select trades, would have known nothing about it.
I was just going to look for a similar map to that, knowing the geomagnetic field strength varies over space and time. (The whole field of paleomagnetism relies on dating rocks and heated human artifacts by the magnetic signatures they encode of subtle variations in the strength and direction of the local geomagnetic field while cooling through their Curie temperatures.)
 
One recent paper claims that there is a significant relationship between geomagnetic disturbances and "vagrancy" (creatures ending up at unexpected places) during the autumn migrations of some bird species:
I remember with some amusement reading a paper (no, it was many years ago, and I'm sorry, I don't have the citation) which surmised that magnetic anomalies caused some homing pigeons to get lost. But the much simpler explanation was so blatantly obvious that I laughed out loud in the library. The location where they started and the location where SOME of the pigeons ended up suggested to me immediately that they had merely followed the wrong Finger Lake, when I'd expect all the lakes to be pretty much indistinguishable from one another in both visual and olfactory clues.

(On another occasion we were picnicking by a lake with a number of Canada Geese on it. One group of a dozen or so gathered together and gabbled for a while, then took flight in one direction. The second and third groups did the same. The fourth group headed away about ninety degrees from the others. The fifth group followed the first three. A few minutes later group four circled back to the lake, argued for several minutes over who was supposed to be reading the map, then managed to follow the others.)

I think probably the jury is still out concerning bird migration.
 
Almost forgot about this thread. Last week there was the biggest solar flare/magnetic storm in a decade. Were any mass deaths from heart problems reported?

Another thing to consider - if there's no mechanism for solar flares causing heart problems, why are there so many articles popping up suggesting that solar flares cause heart problems?

Interestingly, many of these articles popped up after ChatGPT became a thing. I used the prompt: "write a long and elaborate scientific study showing a significant correlation between solar flares and heart attack deaths due to magnetism." and the result that I got on my first attempt reads eerily similar to the articles I posted in my original post.

Introduction Solar flares are sudden bursts of energy and radiation that emanate from the sun?s surface. These flares can have a wide range of impacts on Earth?s atmosphere and magnetic field, with potential consequences for human health. Some studies have suggested that solar flares may be linked to an increase in heart attacks, due to the effect of increased magnetic activity on the human body.

In this study, we aim to investigate the potential correlation between solar flares and heart attack deaths, specifically focusing on the role of magnetism. We hypothesize that solar flares, and the resulting changes in Earth?s magnetic field, can affect the human body in a way that increases the risk of heart attacks.

Methods To examine this hypothesis, we analyzed data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on solar activity, including the frequency and intensity of solar flares. We also obtained data on heart attack deaths from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with a focus on deaths attributed to cardiovascular events.

We used statistical analysis techniques to assess the correlation between solar flare activity and heart attack deaths. Specifically, we examined the timing of solar flares in relation to the occurrence of heart attacks, as well as the geographic distribution of heart attack deaths in relation to solar activity.

Results Our analysis revealed a significant correlation between solar flare activity and heart attack deaths. We found that there was a clear increase in the number of heart attack deaths following periods of heightened solar activity, particularly during periods of solar flares.

Furthermore, we observed that the impact of solar flares on heart attack deaths varied geographically, with regions closer to the Earth?s magnetic poles experiencing a greater increase in deaths during times of intense solar activity. This supports the hypothesis that the magnetism associated with solar flares may be a key factor in the increased risk of heart attacks.

Discussion Our findings suggest a plausible link between solar flares and heart attack deaths, with magnetism playing a significant role in this correlation. The effect of increased solar activity on the Earth?s magnetic field may disrupt the body?s natural electromagnetic balance, potentially triggering physiological changes that increase the risk of heart attacks in susceptible individuals.

It is important to note that further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying this correlation, and to identify the specific pathways through which solar flares may impact human health. Nonetheless, our study provides compelling evidence of a connection between solar activity and heart attack deaths, highlighting the potential health risks associated with increased solar flare activity.

Conclusion In conclusion, our study demonstrates a significant correlation between solar flares and heart attack deaths, with magnetism likely playing a key role in this relationship. These findings have important implications for public health, suggesting that monitoring solar activity may be beneficial for identifying periods of increased risk for heart attacks. Further research is needed to confirm and expand upon these findings, but our study contributes to a growing body of evidence supporting the link between solar activity and human health.
 
Last edited:
It's for the people making extraordinary claims to provide the evidence.

But as (on this thread) we haven't found a relation between solar activity and cardiac-related deaths when looking at data over decades, and as the mechanisms proposed by claimants for a link appear implausible and in some cases pseudoscientific, I'm going to predict "no".

I'm not aware of any reports of unexpected mass deaths for any reason in any "Western" developed nations* over the past week or so, thankfully.

*Possibly a contentious term- I'm thinking of USA, Canada, probably all EU member states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, UK, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, a few others.
Purely because they all have good communications, diverse, independent media and effective nationwide emergency services, and I'm guessing they all maintain dependable mortality records.
 
(1) If there's no mechanism for solar flares causing heart problems, (2) why are there so many articles popping up suggesting that solar flares cause heart problems?
(My parenthetical numbering). (1) is a question of medicine. (2) is a question of popular appeal of a topic and the desire of the writers to get attention. They don't necessarily have anything to do with each other.
 
It's for the people making extraordinary claims to provide the evidence.

But as (on this thread) we haven't found a relation between solar activity and cardiac-related deaths when looking at data over decades, and as the mechanisms proposed by claimants for a link appear implausible and in some cases pseudoscientific, I'm going to predict "no".

I'm not aware of any reports of unexpected mass deaths for any reason in any "Western" developed nations* over the past week or so, thankfully.

*Possibly a contentious term- I'm thinking of USA, Canada, probably all EU member states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, UK, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, a few others.
Purely because they all have good communications, diverse, independent media and effective nationwide emergency services, and I'm guessing they all maintain dependable mortality records.
Which mechanisms proposed did you find implausible and in some cases pseudoscientific, and why?
 
Which mechanisms proposed did you find implausible and in some cases pseudoscientific, and why?

I looked into the presence of magnetic particles in the pineal gland after you posted this,
The studies I cite do not mention radiation as a mechanism for the correlations, but rather things involving magnetism, Schumann Resonance, and in some cases magnetic crystals in the pineal gland. There's no debate that radiation has effects on health but that doesn't seem to be the narrative of these studies, which instead speculate that magnetism is behind the effects.

...and posted this https://www.metabunk.org/threads/cl...f-different-health-problems.13289/post-311419.

It is not plausible that variance in geomagnetism impinges on the functioning of the pineal gland, and it's false to imply that the pineal gland has physiologically critical functions in adults (which those seeking to connect geomagnetic storms, the pineal gland and serious health outcomes do imply).
 
Interestingly, many of these articles popped up after ChatGPT became a thing. I used the prompt: "write a long and elaborate scientific study showing a significant correlation between solar flares and heart attack deaths due to magnetism." and the result that I got on my first attempt reads eerily similar to the articles I posted in my original post.
That's probably where ChatGPT copied them from. It's helpful to remember that ChatGPT operates like the students, who, on the night before the assignment is due, hastily rephrase a wikipedia page in the hopes that the teacher won't notice they haven't understood the subject matter.
 
Though several have mentioned the harmlessness of MRI scans as a means of debunking the notion that magnetic fields produced during solar storms cannot harm people, it seems as though MRI scans can induce ventricular fibrillation, which is potentially fatal:

crem.png



The source is here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705217/

It's still debated about whether or not magnetic fields cause cancer.


Also, the evidence suggests that the magnetic fields during an MRI scan produces a significant decrease in red blood cell membrane permeability, membrane elasticity and erythrocytes sedimentation rate:

Recently, some biophysical properties of erythrocytes were analyzed in 25 patients during a MRI scan [104]. The results showed a significant decrease in red blood cells membrane permeability, membrane elasticity and erythrocytes sedimentation rate during MRI, but the removal of the MF resulted in a rapid return to the normal conditions.

For those who are not familiar with the terminology, gradient field is the part of the MRI scanner's field that fluctuates, and is a time-varying magnetic field. This is also the reason why MRI scanners are so noisy - the rapid fluctuations during the scanning phase cause the interior parts of the MRI to bang about repeatedly.
 
Last edited:
Though several have mentioned the harmlessness of MRI scans as a means of debunking the notion that magnetic fields produced during solar storms cannot harm people, it seems as though MRI scans can induce ventricular fibrillation, which is potentially fatal:

MRIs have magnetic fields 4-5 orders of magnitude higher than the earth's magnetic field, which is weaker than a fridge magnet, and so are of little relevance here.
 
Though several have mentioned the harmlessness of MRI scans as a means of debunking the notion that magnetic fields produced during solar storms cannot harm people, it seems as though MRI scans can induce ventricular fibrillation, which is potentially fatal:

OK, let's look at the Hartwig, Giovanetti, Vanello et al. (2009) paper linked to by serpentdebunker,
Biological Effects and Safety in Magnetic Resonance Imaging: A Review
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705217/

Last line of abstract:
External Quote:

While the whole data does not confirm a risk hypothesis, it suggests a need for further studies...
"Does not confirm a risk hypothesis" means the null hypothesis could not be excluded; there is no statistically significant relationship between MRI scans and unsafe health effects. The author's phrasing might imply an equivocality that is unfounded. They use similar equivocation later.

For the purposes of our discussion, we could stop there (but I won't :)).

"...it suggests a need for further studies..." = we haven't found anything but please fund our next study.

The authors review research into whether static MF, gradient MF, RF or all three combined, as experienced during a clinical MRI scan, can affect health.
As @Mendel has pointed out, the levels are magnitudes greater than those experienced during geomagnetic storms.


Static MF

External Quote:

A recent review concluded that it was very difficult to prove the existence of significant biological effects of static MF (14), with the exception of force orientation effects on biological molecules with particular magnetic properties (i.e. haemoglobin, free radicals), without apparent side effects for humans (15), and some sensory effects such as nausea, vertigo and metallic taste (16).

"Very difficult to prove" is problematic phrasing; for any given study either the null hypothesis is rejected or it is not. In terms of results- experimental findings- it is irrelevant how difficult it is to conduct a study (although a complex methodology might make reproduction of that study difficult). We might reasonably interpret "very difficult to prove" as "not found in most studies we looked at".

External Quote:

Genotoxic or carcinogenic effects have also been studied... ...the body of results available in the literature are often not comparable and in some cases also not reproducible making a definitive conclusion premature.
Not reproducible is, in science, a very bad sign.

External Quote:

Also, sub-chronic exposure (10 weeks to a 9.4T static MF) seems to have no biological effects (alterations in heart rates, body weights, food and water consumption, blood biochemical and urinary parameters and major organ weights) in male and female adult rats or their progeny
10 weeks at 9.4T! And no ill effects.

External Quote:

Again, the general consensus is that there are insufficient studies to draw any conclusions relative to the genotoxicity or the carcinogenicity of static MF
Implying the experimental hypothesis- that static MF is carcinogenic- has not been demonstrated.

External Quote:

Studies on human volunteers exposed up to 8T, ...took into account as endpoints central and peripheral nervous activities, behavioural and cognitive functions, sensory perception, cardiac function, respiratory frequency, body temperature, but no conclusion could be drawn.
(My emphasis).

External Quote:

A document of the World Health Organization (2006, (15)), stated that there are no evidences on the short and long term adverse effects of the MRI static MF on human health. This statement has been confirmed also more recently
(Author's italics).

Gradient MF:

External Quote:

The time variation induces in the patient undergoing a MR scan, an electric field which could stimulate nerves and muscles, and could generate cardiac stimulation or even ventricular fibrillation. While the latter is a primary concern, being a life-threatening condition, possible peripheral nerve stimulation may cause discomfort and could not be tolerated by the subjects, thus interfering with the examination (e.g. due to patient movements) ...(43)
My emphasis; "could" not "can" or "does". The authors do not provide good evidence for "could", and it is contradicted by their own abstract. They give one reference to support this alarming claim about ventricular fibrillation:

Reference (43) is for
Increased time rate of change of gradient fields: effect on peripheral nerve stimulation at clinical MR imaging,
Vogt, F.M., Ladd, M.E., Hunold, P. et al., 2004, Radiology (November) 233 (2)
Abstract viewable here https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15358851/

There is no mention of ventricular fibrillation (VF) in the Vogt et al. (2004) abstract, which might be surprising if those researchers found a relationship between MRI imaging and VF considering the immediate and extreme risk to life that VF represents. VF causes cardiac arrest and requires immediate CPR/ defibrillation; even if available most sufferers do not survive a VF arrest.
Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventricular_fibrillation

Indeed, Vogt et al. come to these undramatic conclusions,

External Quote:

Results: ...No significant correlation between location of examination and location and degree of stimulation was recorded.
That is, there is no connection between the area being MRI'd and the area where discomfort was felt!
It must be questionable whether discomfort is due to MF stimulation, when a patient needing MRI for clinical reasons might have other reasons to feel discomfort (see para. after next).

External Quote:

Conclusion: The 120% gradient stimulation level seems acceptable for routine clinical imaging with this gradient system, since only 2.9% of patients experienced very uncomfortable local stimulation.
...and no mention of arrhythmias at all.

We do not know from the abstract whether Vogt et al. were able to account for confounding variables by running a control group, e.g. similarly-ill patients placed in an MRI machine and exposed to equivalent noise, and need for supine immobility, but without a magnetic field being generated. For rather obvious ethical reasons I suspect not.
It would not be unreasonable to expect some (already ill/ injured) hypothetical controls would also experience discomfort, anxiety and/or nausea in the circumstances. Tingling in the extremities is a common symptom of fear.

Hartwig, Giovannetti, Vanello et al. (2009) do not cite any other source for their mention of VF.
Despite their earlier claim that MF "...could generate cardiac stimulation", they continue

External Quote:

A 2000’s review (58) analyzed patient safety in time-varying gradient fields associated to a MR scan and concluded that cardiac stimulation is very unlikely in present-day systems, while at sufficient amplitudes, peripheral nerve stimulation is perceptible (tingling or tapping sensations)...
..and yet, in their following paragraph which the authors italicize but for which they provide no citation or additional reasoning, they write

External Quote:
The use of MRI gradient MF represents a potential health risk beside peripheral nerve and cardiac stimulation to the patient.
This is an unsupported contradiction of the author's (58) citation, and of their own abstract (again).
No reason for this is given. This is problematic.

Hartwig et al. then discuss RF fields.

The largest risk from intense RF fields is thermal injury (burns); we can dismiss this as a consequence of geomagnetic events. We don't see thousands of burns victims staggering around during such events, or feel heat ourselves.

External Quote:

The cancer risk related to RF fields generated by television and radio transmitters was also analysed (89): no study has confidently suggested any clear links to health effects (90).
...this despite much (often well-intentioned) concern and numerous studies. Again, note the equivocal phrasing used by the authors; they could have written something like "No significant relationship has been found between TV/ radio transmitters and ill health, let alone cancer".

As @Mendel has pointed out, in all the areas considered- static MF, gradient MF and RF, the energies studied are magnitudes more than those experienced during geomagnetic events.

Hartwig et al. go on to consider the combination of static MF, gradient MF and RF (at the levels experienced during MRI, not the vastly lower levels recorded during GMEs).

External Quote:

The cell cycle progression was studied in human cell lines under conditions similar to MRI clinical routine exams and no alterations were observed. The effects of long duration high field MRI on fetal growth and postnatal development of mice were also studied in mice, without any statistically significant changes being observed.
So, nothing worrying.

External Quote:

Recently, some biophysical properties of erythrocytes were analyzed in 25 patients during a MRI scan [104]. The results showed a significant decrease in red blood cells membrane permeability, membrane elasticity and erythrocytes sedimentation rate during MRI, but the removal of the MF resulted in a rapid return to the normal conditions.
This is interesting.

Luckily we already know from the author's abstract that no negative outcomes were associated with this.

The cited study is
Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Associated Alteration In Some Biophysical Properties of Blood,
Ali, M.A. (2007) Romanian Journal of Biophysics 17 (4)
https://www.rjb.ro/articles/193/art 07 Ali doc.pdf

In their conclusion, the author of that study writes
External Quote:

The significance changes of these properties during the MRI period followed by non significance changes at the end of MRI period revealed that these changes are transient ones and confirm the safety of MRI.
Hartwig et al. don't seem regard Ali's conclusion as worth quoting.

Ali also writes,
External Quote:

Although there is no evidence for a cumulative effect of magnetic field exposure on health, further studies of the exposed populations will be helpful in establishing rational guidelines for occupational exposure to magnetic fields.
(My emphasis)
...which seems fair enough.

As @serpentdbunker has said,
It's still debated about whether or not magnetic fields cause cancer.
But that debate is about intense magnetic fields in the teslas, and possible cumulative effects over multiple exposures, as they apply to patients undergoing MRI and the small number of workers exposed to powerful fields.
If there is a relationship, it will be much weaker than that between diagnostic X-rays and cancer, or it would already be evident, just as the carcinogenic potential of X-rays was realised many decades ago.

The Hartwig et al. (2009) paper isn't great IMHO; the authors are reluctant to say "no significant relationship has been found" or words to that effect clearly.
Where they raise health concerns from other papers (Vogt et al. 2004, Ali 2007) Hartwig et al. fail to cite those author's conclusions that exposure to static MF/ gradient MF/ RF during an MRI is safe.

And to reiterate; Hartwig et al. are discussing magnetic fields many, many times more powerful than any resulting from solar weather or any other source of geomagnetic events.
 
Back
Top