Did you notice anything peculiar about your behaviour on 19 and 20 February this year? On those days a massive sunspot expanded and retracted. Over the next few months the sun will enter the peak of sunspot activity, a cycle that occurs every eleven years. But does it really have an effect on human behaviour?
Historically, the best-known research was conducted by the early 20th century Russian scientist, professor A.L. Tchijevsy. He prepared a study of the history of mass human behaviour compared to the 11 year solar cycle. He divided sunspot activity into four parts:
1) Minimum sunspot activity;
2) increasing sunspot activity;
3) maximum sunspot activity; and
4) Decreasing sunspot activity.
He then divided up the agitation of mass human movements into five phases: and these are more difficult to understand:
He compared the two charts to come up with what he called an “Index of mass excitability”. He then applied this for each covering each year from 500 B.C. to 1922 A.D in 72 countries 72 countries in that period. He focused on “unrest” -wars, revolutions, riots, expeditions and migrations. Tchijevsky found that 80% of the most significant events occurred during the years of maximum sunspot activity. He theorised that these “exciting” periods were due to an acute change in the nervous and psychic character of humanity, which takes place when sunspot activity was at a peak, and that when there was very little sunspot activity, humanity became “tired” and less likely to stir itself to undertake large-scale ventures.
Georges Lakhovsky took things further in his book, “The Secret of Life” in which he mixed fact and speculation. The Sun is one of Earth’s primary sources of cosmic radiation. Solar winds capture passing cosmic dust and radiation and blow it into the earth’s atmosphere. He called this the Prana, that Cosmic Breath, which is meant to vitalize man, and be the source for our evolution.
Later, Dr. George Crile, a distinguished American surgeon, studied the sun in light of its radiant energy. He said :
“It is clear that radiation produces the electrical current which operates adaptively the organism as a whole, producing memory, reason, imagination, emotion, the special senses, secretions, muscular action, the response to infection, normal growth, and the growth of benign tumours and cancers, all of which are governed adaptively by the electric charges that are generated by the short wave or ionizing radiation in protoplasm.”
However there is a lack of hard biological evidence to support the theories that sunspots affect human behaviour. In fact some scientists debunk the theory completely, saying that it is more likely that the gravity pull of the moon (seen in the ebb and flow of tides) affects us more than the sun, perhaps giving support to Lycanthropy!
You can find all sorts of activities that occur in 11 year cycles that surely are not caused by sunspot activity: These include ladies fashions (more risque when sunspot activity at a peak), horse racing (outsiders more likely to win during peaks) and thespians forgetting their lines more often during high sunspot activity!
However there has not been any detailed research for some years now. Perhaps the escalation of sunspot activity due this Summer will cause more interest in this field.