Part VI – Galactic Cosmic Rays Effect on Animal and Human Behavior

So what happens when Earth’s magnetic field weakens, an extended solar minimum occurs, and a profusion of cosmic rays rain down on our planet?

Several study’s have come out in the last few years providing new insights into what ensues to animals and humans by way of varying forms of magnetism and radiation. During times of a highly active solar maximum, an acceleration in certain forms of charged particles – such as solar flares, CMEs (coronal mass ejections), coronal holes, and filament can have a direct causal effect to Earth in many forms of extreme weather. This same scenario with these very same particles can have an effect on animals and humans. I will give specific examples of how in just a minute.

During times of low solar activity, and especially in the time of an extended solar minimum cycle of which we are currently experiencing, it is the far more hazardous form of charged particle known as galactic cosmic rays GCRs, which can cause the most damage to animals and humans. Large amounts of radiation from cosmic rays race near the speed of light hitting Earth’s magnetic field. Usually, the magnetic field deflects the vast majority of particles keeping the Earth and its inhabitants safe. But what happens when the magnetic field weakens?

Recent studies have confirmed the adverse effects of cosmic radiation exposure on humans central nervous system have been identified. Cognitive tasks used in the study corroborate past findings and identify significant longer-term deficits in episodic, spatial, recognition memory. Areas of the brain affected are the frontal and temporal lobes containing the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex, and perirhinal cortex.

The hippocampus is a small organ located within the brain’s medial temporal lobe forming an important part of the limbic system – the region that regulates emotions. It also enables our ability to maintain long and short-term memory, most significantly with long-term memory. This organ plays an important role in a person’s physical coordination, also elicits the feeling of being engaged, connected, or part-of. The medial prefrontal cortex region has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior. Perirhinal cortex is importantly involved in a number of different memory functions.

Now, going back to solar charged particles and geomagnetism; I found it quite interesting that both forms of charged particles…i.e. cosmic rays and solar rays have different but similar effects on humans. Dr. Kelly Posner, a psychiatrist at Columbia University says; “The most plausible explanation for the association between geomagnetic activity and depression and other mood disorders is that geomagnetic storms can desynchronize melatonin production and circadian rhythms.

In a related study from the Department of Neurobiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School suggests humans may be genetically pre-disposed to the influence of geomagnetic flux as it relates to the Earth’s magnetic field and charged particles. The study published in the scientific journal ‘Geophysical Research’, indicates a dormant gene is residing within all of us just ready to be tapped. It is known as ‘Cryptochromes’ (CRY). They are involved in the ‘circadian’ (24-hour cyclical rhythms) of daily life. Strong scientific evidence indicates geomagnetic fields have an influence on the light sensitivity of the human visual system.

Oleg Shumilov, of the Institute of North Industrial Ecology in Russia said: “Many animals can sense the Earth’s magnetic field, so why not people”. Shumilov looked at activity in the Earth’s geomagnetic field noting during periods of high solar storm activity, the geomagnetism peaks matched up with peaks in the number of mood disorders i.e. depression, anxiety, bi-polar and even suicides over the same period.

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Coming Next: Part VII – Coming Back Around to Earth’s Magnetic Reversal

SPECIAL REPORT: Study Shows Weakened Magnetic Field Has No Effect on Avian Compass

Reporting their results in the New Journal of Physics, scientists have taken a step forward in unraveling the inner workings of the avian compass – a puzzle that has captivated researchers for decades. The team, led by a group at Oxford University, is exploring the possibilities of a weakened Earth’s magnetic field would have on living organisms.


Magnetic sensing is a type of sensory perception that has long been studied. Over the past 50 years, scientific studies have shown a wide variety of living organisms have the ability to perceive magnetic fields and can use information from the Earth’s magnetic field in orientation behavior. Examples abound: salmon, sea turtles, spotted newts, lobsters, honeybees, and perhaps us humans, most of which can perceive and utilize geomagnetic field information.

The avian magnetic compass is a complex entity with many surprising properties. The basis for the magnetic sense is located in the eye of the creature, and furthermore, it is light-dependent. The most accepted theory is living organisms or themselves via magnetically sensitive chemical reactions, which take place in proteins known as cryptochromes present in the eyes retina.


Scientific studies have confirmed that humans do in fact have both magnetite and cryptochromes hardwired as part of our biological makeup. Using an ultrasensitive superconducting magnetometer in a clean-lab environment, scientists have detected the presence of ferromagnetic material in a variety of tissues from the human brain. Magnetic particle extracts from solubilized brain tissues examined with high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, electron diffraction, and elemental analyses identify minerals in the magnetite-maghemite family.

Now the question is, does the weakening Earth’s magnetic field have an effect on living organisms? “The principle that chemical transformations can respond to very weak magnetic fields, known as the radical pair mechanism, is unquestionably genuine,” said Peter Hore, a biophysical chemist at Oxford University, who is heading up the study. “What is not yet proven is whether this mechanism lies at the heart of avian magneto-reception (The ability to perceive magnetic fields).”

Herbal Magnetic Logo_m

According to Hore, probably the most serious stumbling block is whether the spin coherence in the radicals (the short-lived chemical intermediates responsible for the magnetic field effect) could last long enough to allow a magnetic field as weak as the Earth’s to alter the photochemistry of a cryptochrome.

To find out more, the team has built a computational model focusing on the internal magnetic interactions within and between the radicals involved in the process. The simulations allow the scientists to examine the modulation of these interactions caused by thermal fluctuations in the positions of the radicals in their binding sites in the cryptochrome.

Examining the data, the group observes the effect of a weakening Earth magnetic field is sufficient to change the proportion of radical pairs that proceed along two competing chemical reaction pathways. “The effect happens in such a way that the yield of the signaling state of  protein should depend on the direction of the magnetic field with respect to the cryptochrome molecule,” Hore adds. “Furthermore, our results show the loss of coherence caused by certain sorts of internal magnetic interactions and molecular dynamics could actually enhance, rather than degrade, the sensitivity of a cryptochrome-based magnetic compass sensor.”

Device applications
Thinking further ahead, the researchers highlight that their findings could benefit the development of low-cost and more environmentally-friendly electronic devices. “Certain organic semiconductors (OLEDs, for example) exhibit magneto-electro-luminescence or magneto-conductance, the mechanism of which shares essentially identical physics with radical pairs,” said Hore. “I believe there is scope for the design and construction of electronically addressable devices, based on principles learnt from studies of the avian compass, for determining the presence, intensity and direction of weak magnetic fields using cheap, non-toxic organic materials.”