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Does solar weather influence our mood?

Updated on January 27, 2014

Feeling cranky? Blame the Sun!

If you're feeling irritable without any apparent reason, it's quite possible that you can legitimately blame the Sun. The scientists have already agreed that solar weather, apart from causing beautiful Northern Lights to appear, influences power lines and navigation systems. Is it possible that it can also influence us? Looks like the answer to this question is - yes, by all means!

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Without the Sun, life on Earth is not possible. There would be no warmth, no light, blah blah blah, everybody knows this. But can Sun's activity directly affect how we feel? Can Sun-caused geomagnetic storms make us peevish, depressed or literally drive us mad? Looks like the Sun has a bigger influence on us than we ever thought.

What do you think?

Can the Sun be responsible for how we feel?

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Geomagnetic storms and our health

So what can they do? What can actually happen? Here's some interesting facts:

- direct exposure to solar high-energy particles can cause radiation poisoning, just like any nuke. Luckily, only astronauts need to worry about that, because here on planet's surface we are all protected by the Earth's magnetic field. If this field was ever to disappear, we are fried.

- they mess with our brains. I've dug out one Very Smart Article (link below) where some scientists clearly state that geomagnetic disturbances "have an effect on functional activity of a brain" and decribe the experiment that brought them to this conclusion. Unfortunately, they fail to describe in layman's terms what this effect actually is - but maybe you're smarter than me and you'll be able to understand more.

- rate of patients admitted to a hospital due to heart attack during solar storms is higher by 70-100%

- depression-related hospital admittance jumps by 30%. Let me stress - these are hospital cases only, number of people suffering quietly at home may be much higher.

- number of stroke cases flies up by a stunning 130%

- if you suffer from migraines, your head is likely to ache twice as badly on days with high solar activity

P.S. After scaring you out of your wits with the dramatic figures above, I need to quietly admit that other reports quote rates of extra heart attacks and strokes as 13% and 7.5% accordingly. I guess that's more likely, otherwise we would've noticed long time ago :)

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Scientists are still arguing whether geomagnetic storms can pose serious hazards to human health. Fine. But what about not-so-serious effects?

Feeling low? It's all Sun's fault!

It has been suggested that geomagnetic storms may have adverse effects on our well-being. So next time when you're feeling blue, or want to blow up the whole world for no apparent reason, check whether there's no solar storm in the offing.

I have noticed such a correlation myself.

It may be a pile of rubbish and self-programming. But even if it is - funny how it gets you through. Most of us feel better when they can EXPLAIN things - that's just how human brain works. Feeling low? Well, that's only a solar flare - and here comes instant relief from knowing that you just need to wait it out and in a day or so you'll feel better.

And that it's all Sun's fault anyway :)

True or not, such an approach may spare you many unnecessary arguments.

Graphics by Tiggered

True or not?

Have you ever experienced mood fluctuation caused by the Sun? Or maybe you think it's absolute rubbish? Come on, voice it off, let's have a little debate here

Does solar activity influence our mood?

But what is this solar weather anyway?

To put it very plainly, it's the spectrum of tricks that the Sun can play and ways it influences our planet. The Sun is a pretty busy place, constantly emitting streams of high-energy particles known as 'solar wind'. If not for Earth's magnetic field, no life on the globe could survive this bombardment. The field is pretty tough, but when the Sun is being particularly active, it can get slightly distorted - this phenomenon is called 'geomagnetic storm'. Northern Lights show up on the sky, compasses go funny. Particularly severe magnetic storms can even damage power grids. And drive the more sensitive of us completely bonkers.

The speed of solar wind changes pretty much constantly. Our star is being closely watched by astrophysicists (and self-taught flare spotters), and since it's quite a distance from the Earth, we usually get early warning (a day or two) if a geomagnetic storm is likely to affect us. NASA Space Weather Bureau issues regular updates on solar activity, so be sure to check it often if you want to be prepared.

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Solar activity cycle

The Sun's activity is not constant, it fluctuates. A typical solar activity cycle lasts 11 years. At present, we are somewhere in middle intensities, heading towards the peak. A quick look on figures concerning spotless days (=days without any sunspots visible) will confirm it:

- 2009 - 260 spotless days

- 2010 - 51 spotless days

- 2011 - 1 day (so far)

So - good news - you'll be far more likely to observe Northern Lights within next few years.

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Looks peaceful now :)

Looks peaceful now :)
Looks peaceful now :)

Don't leave without leaving a trace :)

Hey, you! It's your turn for a solar weather story

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      Donnette Davis 6 years ago from South Africa

      The weather is a definite influence... I turn into someone I really can't quite tolerate in the extreme heat that we have during summer.. UGH! Lovely lens, thank you.

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      dannystaple 6 years ago

      I do get magnetic fields and the magnetosphere, but the theory is that we are not exposed to these changes because that magnetosphere protects us from them. Although maybe it's shifts do alter our exposure to some magnetic flux. Does that mean that those silly magnetic charm things may actually work? I am sure Penn & Teller showed them to be BS. That "very smart article" seemed virtually impenetrable to me - and I think I'm fairly technically minded. That sun thing - you should put that on a T-shirt!