Lightning and thunderstorms create very-low-frequency (VLF) atmospherics, or 'sferics'. These are short, weak electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the 1-100 kHz range that settle down to a common frequency of 10 Hz, which is tiny compared with the much higher frequencies bombarding us from our computers, TVs and electrical appliances. Nevertheless, growing evidence shows that all living organisms respond to buildups of EM energy from the weather on earth, and that these faint, dampened impulses profoundly affect all of our biological systems-and possibly far more than does the sea of EM 'noise' all around us.
The level of circulating sferics largely accounts for what is being termed 'meteoropathy', or illness due to the weather. According to German research, some 30 per cent of Europeans are weather-sensitive (J Sci Explor, 1998; 12: 455-68). Those affected react to changes in air pressure, humidity and even temperature. During buildups of sferics, pain is intensified, illness increases, moods worsen and people get the 'blahs'.
Researchers at the Department of Clinical and Physiological Psychology at the Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany, have discovered that pain from all manner of sources-scars, brain injury, angina, asthma or migraine-is more intense during high rates of atmospherics, with increases beginning one or two days before a change in the weather (Reiter R. Meteorobiologie und Elektrizit"at der Atmosph"are [Meteorobiology and Atmospheric Electricity]. Leipzig: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft [Academic Publishers] Geest & Portig, 1960).
When sferics are high-say, during geomagnetic storms-blood viscosity (stickiness) also dramatically increases, as do heart attacks (Clin Cardiol, 1985; 8: 149-51). They also increase the pain of rheumatism, migraine, sleep disorders and general tension. Bad weather also appears to have a profound effect on human mood. Violence, accidents (including traffic accidents), suicides and criminal behaviours increase when EMFs build up in the air (J Sci Explor, 1998; 12: 455-68).
Atmospherics can also interfere with concentration. Students make more mistakes on tests when sferics were high the night before. Our ability to react quickly also suffers when the air is heavy with sferic activity.
But why do we feel these faint pulses and not the louder ones? The Giessen group pos-tulates that each of us possesses a biological 'window' through which we receive and respond to a specific band of frequencies.
Thus, we are only susceptible to waves that correspond to our ideal frequencies.
Participants exposed to 10-kHz sferics for only 20 minutes show a large shift in their alpha band (7-13 Hz), the wave length of meditation and alert receptivity (Tirsch WS et al. 'Spectroanalytical investigations about the influence of atmospherics on the human EEG' [Abstr]. EEG Symposium, Obergugl, February 1994). Other studies have shown an increase in both alpha and beta brain-wave activity (13-40 Hz).
In our human evolution, the brain may have worked best when tuned in to 10 Hz, the frequency of our alpha cycle-quiet, meditative alertness-and the same as the Schumann resonance, the most common frequency of EM waves that encircle the earth.
James Oschman-author of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis (Churchill Livingstone, 2000)-believes that, when we're in a relaxed or meditative state, the pulse of the earth takes over as our brain's 'pacemaker'. Some have even concluded that the Schumann resonance frequency creates our own internal rhythms. When people in an underground bunker were exposed to Schumann-like extra-low-frequency (ELF) waves for a week, they displayed more accurate circadian rhythms than did the controls (Naturwissenschaften, 1968; 55: 29-32).
The Giessen group has also examined reports showing that these low, faint fields can affect cell calcium, as all the important ions of the body are in the low-frequency range. Such interaction affects the delicate balance of melatonin and serotonin, the brain hormones that regulate mood, set our circadian rhythm and may be involved (through the pineal gland) with the workings of a number of the major organs.
The brain uses these oscillating cellular calcium ions to regulate a range of bodily functions. Like the rhythm set by an orchestra conductor, the 10-Hz pulse of the earth's weather gives us the world's best beat. As a tuning fork tunes a musical instrument, it may be that we need to be 'tuned' by the Schumann resonance to be at our own peak performance.
Also, we may have evolved to pick up these changes in the weather several days in advance to give us enough time to find food or shelter, say the Giessen scientists.
The Schumann VLF fields build up primarily during fair weather. So, it may well be that we humans were designed to function at our best when it's sunny, and to give in to the impulse to hibernate during stormy weather.
WDDTY VOL 20 NO 11