Appendix 1


L. B. Hainsworth

Copyright: Speculations in Science and Technology, Vol. 6, No. 5
(pp 439-444; Dec. 1983); used by permission of author's estate

School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Western Australian Institute of Technology
Kent Street
South Bentley ...6102
Western Australia

Abstract:  The possibility that human health is linked with geophysical parameters by way of the naturally occurring Schumann ELF resonant signals is discussed.  It is concluded that the frequencies of the human brain-waves, especially that of the alpha-rhythm, evolved in response to these signals, and hence that variations in them can produce health changes.  Because of the relationship between these signals and ionospheric, and other, conditions it is also deduced that, unless massive amount of data are used, attempts to establish a relationship between biological effects and ionospheric or geomagnetic parameters will produce confusingly contradictory results, as has happened.  As the human system is apparently sensitive to such low-power ELF signals, it is also considered that these links need to be examined closely before any damage is caused by present-day technology.

1.  INTRODUCTION: A number of attempts have been made to discover if there is any correlation between health and geophysical parameters such as geo-magnetic and ionospheric storms.  However, such studies have paid little attention to the mechanism whereby such correlation could be produced, and this has almost certainly been responsible for producing confusingly conflicting results.  As an illustration of this conflict, one such study which showed a very positive correlation was carried out by Malin and Srivastava (1), while another study of a similar kind by Lipa, Sturrock, and Rogot (2) showed no correlation of any significance at all.  Between these two extremes lie a range of observations or results indicating varying degrees of correlation, and there are typical examples of such reports. (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8).

Two interesting points are made in the opening paragraph of the paper by Malin and Srivastava.  Firstly, that most papers on the subject "conclude that there is such a correlation", and secondly, that "there is widespread skepticism concerning the reality of the correlation."  A third point, that is not explicitly mentioned, is that results obtained by one group can often not be duplicated by another, although this is partially implied by the reference to the work of Lipa et al.

As an illustration of this third point: a study for the year 1978 has been made of the admissions to the cardiac unit at the City General Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, U.K., and no significant relationship has been found between the daily admissions and the planetary geomagnetic index, Kp-sum, published by the International Union of Geodosy and Geophysics.  The contrast between these results and those obtained by Malin and Srivastava must lead to skepticism of the results of the latter work, unless valid reasons can be found to account for the difference.  Some possible reasons will be discussed later.

The purpose of the present discussion, therefore, is to consider:  Firstly, the reasons why a correlation might be expected to be found between health and geophysical parameters; secondly, what the possible range of such a correlation might be; and, thirdly, possible reasons for there being such large discrepancies between the results of studies that have already been made.

One set of geophysical factors which might have biological effects, and which do not seem to have been considered in this connection, are the Schumann resonant signals, and this study will examine the possibility of them being such a causal factor,  They are linked with geophysical parameters that have been considered in other studies; and in such a way as may account for many anomalies already found.


There are sixteen items of data or information which seem to be concerned in forming the basis of the possible relationship.  These are enumerated as follow, in related blocks, and will be referred to by [number] in the subsequent discussions:

2.1  Light flicker in the range of 3 - 30 Hz has biological effects.

2.2  Auditory signals in the range of 3 - 30 Hz have biological effects.

2.3  The dominant brain-wave rhythm, known as the alpha-rhythm, has an average signal frequency of about 10.5 Hz.

2.4  Mental disturbance is often considered as "stress-induced."

2.5  Heart attacks are often thought to be "stress-induced."

2.6  The cavity between the earth and the ionosphere resonates electrically so that electromagnetic waves, know as Schumann resonant signals, circulate in the cavity at frequencies down to the order of 6 Hz.  The lowest four of these resonant electromagnetic signal modes lie between 6 and 30 Hz.

2.7  The Schumann resonant frequencies change with ionospheric changes.

2.8  The average frequency of the first Schumann mode is 7.8 Hz.

2.9  The average frequency of the second Schumann mode is 14.1 Hz.

2.10  The average frequency at which there is minimum power circulating in the earth/ionosphere cavity is 10.5 Hz.

2.11  Large ionsopheric changes occur during ionospheric storms.

2.12  Geomagnetic storms are associated with ionospheric storms.

2.13  Geomagnetic activity has been linked with heart attacks.

2.14  Geomagnetic activity has been linked with mental disturbance.

2.15  Ionospheric storms have been linked with mental disturbance.

2.16  The three last points have been regarded as "suspect."


3.1  Brainwave Frequencies and Schumann Resonances.

Since both visual and auditory stimulation at frequencies in the brain-wave spectrum produce biological effects [2.1 & 2.2], then electromagnetic signals in the same frequency range may also be expected to have biological effects, and there is already indirect evidence that this is so [2.13, 2.14 & 2.15].  Additionally, the frequencies of the first and second Schumann modes lie in the theta- and beta-rhythm regions respectively of the brain-wave spectrum [2.8 & 2.9], and the average value of the alpha-rhythm frequency coincides with the average frequency at which the power of the naturally occurring circulating electromagnetic signals is at a minimum [2.3 & 2.10].

Now while the association of the first and second Schumann modes with the theta- and beta-rhythms may be coincidence, the association of the alpha-rhythm in relation to these modes is almost incredibly fortuitous if it is to be accidental.  This is because if the alpha-rhythm frequency is accidentally related to the Schumann odes in the way that it is, then the evolutionary process, in which the basic frequencies of the biological rhythms were developed in response to the action of external factors, must have accidentally located the dominant, or alpha-rhythm frequency, at the precise point where there will be minimum interference from naturally occurring external signal sources.

In parenthesis it might be mentioned that, in constructing any comparably complex communication, control, and computer system, this freedom from interference would be a prime requirement for any signal basic to that system operation, and would be designed into the system but not by accident.

Assuming that the relationship between the alpha-rhythm and the Schumann signals is accidental it is then necessary to consider what other factors, almost certainly of global extent, could have caused this evolution.

The first alternative explanation for the development of the alpha-rhythm at this frequency is that in fact the development was truly accidental, and no evolutionary process or externally operating factors were involved.  However, this requires that variations in the alpha-rhythm frequency should be much wider than have so far been observed, and at the same time casts grave doubts of evolution generally.

The second alternative is that the physical size of the organism determines the basic frequency of resonance.  So far as is known, no evidence is available to this effect.

The third alternative is that the alpha-rhythm frequency evolved in response to the existence of oscillatory signals other than the Schumann resonances. These could only be one of three kind, subsonic acoustic signals, optical flicker, or electromagnetic signals (which, of course, are the same type as the Schumann signals).  Subsonic acoustic signals could occur naturally, but would be severely localized in their intensity, frequency and incidence; thus a general global effect at one frequency would be a virtual impossibility.  Optical flicker on the required global scale seems to be equally unlikely, and finally, in this subset, if the chosen alternative is the electromagnetic signal, then this must accept the Schumann signals as being biologically influential, and they are already known to be significantly linked to the alpha-rhythm at least.

3.2  Geophysical Parameter Interrelations.

Because other studies so far made have taken no account of the possible effects of Schumann resonances then, in attempting to deduce a possible relationship between geophysical changes and biological effects, it is necessary to consider the inter-relationship between the geophysical parameters that have been or may be used as a measure of geophysical activity.

The frequency values of the Schumann resonant signals are determined by the effective dimensions of the cavity between the earth and the ionosphere.Thus any events which change these dimensions will change the resonant frequencies [2.7].  Such events could be ionospheric storms [2.11], and could even result from a man-made ionospheric disturbance as described by Balser and  Wagner (9).  Any such variation will be superimposed on normal diurnal variations that also occur.

Geomagnetic storms [2.12] are the magnetic changes produced by ionospheric storms, and are thus associated with conditions capable of changing the Schumann signals.  However, although such storms can produce these changes, measurement of these parameters can not give any indication of whether the resonant signals have changed to value outside their normal range or not.  Sonce the undisturbed state of the ionosphere corresponds to normal Schumann resonance patterns, then ionospheric disturbances are likely to produce abnormal patterns, but will not necessarily do so in all cases.  If biological response is linked to the Schumann signals, this will reduce any apparent link with geomagnetic ionospheric data.

3.3  Biological Response to ELF Stimulus Since a signal pattern already exists normally, it may be expected that the general response of the central nervous system to most electromagnetic signals conforming to this pattern will be neutral. However, if the earth/ionosphere cavity resonances shift outside of their normal pattern variations, then the central nervous system will be subjected to abnormal signals.  The response may then be analogous to that produced by oscillatory optical and auditory stimuli, and, since the incident stimulus an abnormality, the most likely reaction will be the development of stress symptoms, which would link with mental disturbance and heart attacks [2.4 & 2.5].  A lower level of response is likely to include increases in irritability and absent-mindedness, and a consequent rise in accident rates.

Although the general response of the biological system to abnormal patterns will be that which would result from an inimical situation, there will almost certainly be a limited number of abnormal frequency and field-strength combinations to which there may be a neutral or even beneficial response. There will also be a variation in the level of response of individuals, and in some few cases a variation in the type of response. Such variations can be expected because of the wide range of other conditions of which the individual such as the state of general health, factors which may have produced a preconditioning effect, etc.

Thus, although the general biological response to abnormal conditions of the Schumann resonant signals is likely to be harmful, it will not necessarily be universal, and in some cases it may be beneficial.


Section 3.1 shows that the frequency of the human alpha-rhythm is related to ELF electromagnetic signals occurring naturally in the form of the Schumann resonant signals which circulate in the earth/ionospheric cavity, and hence indicates that the central nervous system is responsive to such ELF electromagnetic signals.

Section 3.2 shows that, while there is a connection between ionospheric and magnetic storms and the Schumann frequencies, this connection can not be quantified to show when abnormality is present in the Schumann resonant frequency values.

Section 3.3 shows that the response of the central nervous system to naturally occurring abnormalities in the Schumann resonant signals will not be completely uniform or universal.

If these results are taken into account, then the results of attempting to link biological effects with geophysical parameters consisting of measures of ionospheric or geomagnetic disturbance can be assessed, and would  be expected to be as follows.

For small amounts of data, some studies would show a positive correlation with a high degree of significance, while others would show less significant or insignificant correlation.  A few could even show a negative correlation, as some ELF electromagnetic signals could quite probably have beneficial effects.  When massive amounts of data are used statistically significant correlation would be expected, but with a very much lower degree of significance than would have been desired, and such quantities of data should really extend over a period of not less than one full sunspot cycle. [Therefore, any future research project would do well to begin toward the end of a sunspot cycle and continue through the end of another, 11 years later--ed.].

Two other factors that could affect the apparent connection between geophysical parameters and biological effects are links with geographical considerations.  Firstly, wind eddies carrying ionized air can produce oscillatory signals in the range of 3 - 6 Hz.  These could be associated with thunderstorm activity, or with winds such as the Fohn wind in Austria, and could have biological effects which would be quite localized.  And secondly, because of the high background level of electromagnetic noise in technologically advanced areas, then, in general, studies made in these areas will probably have much lower significance than studies made elsewhere.

This deduced pattern of results, that could be expected for attempts to find a correlation between biological effects and the geophysical parameters usually considered, is precisely the pattern that has occurred in practice, which suggests that the present analysis is correct; i.e. the human biological system is responsive to very-low-power ELF electromagnetic signals, which are tenuously linked with geomagnetic and ionospheric conditions.

As these effects include both heart attacks and mental and emotional instability, and can be seen to have links with the Schumann resonant signals, there is an urgent need to determine the exact extent of such links as quickly as possible.

Advances in technology increase the amount of electromagnetic pollution daily, and comparatively recent developments have already produced a significant increase in the ELF component of this, and will produce more.  For instance, most of the world is now subjected to electromagnetic signals which contain a component at about 10Hz.  If the alpha-rhythm evolved in response to the absence of signals at this frequency, then continued exposure to such signals could be interesting - to an external observer.

The best approach would probably involve continuous automatic hourly monitoring of the Schumann signals, and subsequent comparison with cardiological, psychiatric, and neurological records. It is anticipated that significant results would be obtained much more quickly than has been the case with other geophysical parameters. The results could then be of clinical benefit in a comparatively short time, to say nothing of avoiding the possibility of unexpected evolutionary changes.


1.  Malin, S.R.C. and Srivastava, B.J.; "Correlations between heart attacks and magnetic activity", Nature, 277, pp. 646-648, (1979).

2.  Lipa, B.J., Sturrock, P.A. and Rogot, F.; "Search for correlation between geomagnetic disturbances and mortality", Nature, 259, pp. 302-304, (1976).

3. Friedman, H., Becker, R.O., and Bachman, C.H.;"Geomagnetic parameters and psychiatric hospital admissions", Nature, 200, pp. 626-628, (1963).

4.  Ibid. Nature, 205, p. 1050, (1965).

5.  Ibid. Nature, 213, p. 949, (1967).

6.  Chizhevkii, A.L.; "The earth in the universe", (Edit. by Fedynskii, V.V.), 280, NASA TT F-345 TT 66-51025, 1968).

7. Gnevyshev, M.N. and Novikova, K.F.; "The influence of solar activity on the earth's biosphere", J. interdiscipl.  Cycle Res. vol. 3, number 1, pp. 99-104, (1972).

8.  Various; "Biological Rhythms in Psychiatry and medicine," {Pub. U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare.)  Public Health Service Publication No. 2080.   1970. - Sections: 'The Cosmic Receiver and Sunspots and Behavior'.  Chap. 1., pp. 12-14.

9.  Balser, M. and Wagner, C.A.;"Effect of a high-altitude nuclear detonation on the earth-ionosphere cavity."  J. Geophys. Res.  Vol. 63, No. 13, pp. 4115-4118, (1962).