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Pandemics, health, and the Sun

06Oct2016 Eileen Mckusick - The Sun?s Influence on Consciousness ... Here is a very interesting commentary with historical references on psychology and solar behaviour, driven by Russian scientists to this day. As per Eileen's comments :
"... Alexander Chizevsky was likely the first to catalog a cyclical relationship between solar activity and cultural ?upsets? or advancements. Outbursts of both creative or destructive excitement, depending on the socio-cultural conditions which had been building, appeared to facilitate artistic revolutions and bloody revolutions from tyranny alike.
This episode introduces the community to his work, and some of the many effects found by other scientists, which ought to open one?s mind to exploring such a hypothesis. Perhaps channels like Suspicious0bservers will one day help forecast health states of physiology and psychology, helping us to hold better empathy for each other, knowing: ?It?s almost that time of the solar cycle!? ..."
(first posted 06Oct2016 from thundeerbolts site)

08Dec2015 Howell - The Greatest of cycles : Human implications? - ... draft document in prep - posting within a day or two ...
Here is an [initial, random, scattered] framework of human-related "quasi-cycles", as background thoughts to the work of Puetz, Prokoph, Borchardt, Mason 01Apr2014 (see my 07Dec2015 posting below). I use the term "quasi-cycle" as complex natural cycles tend to be non-stationary, meaning that they do not always adhere to a fixed pattern, and that is one of many excellent points on the reliabilitities and errors of analysis that Puetz etal bring out far better than the vast majority of scientists.
(first posted 08Dec2015, random, scattered framwork document, 06Oct2016 - oops added the file&link)

Human pandemics (Updates: 05May07, original 06Oct06)
I first saw reference to this theme in the 2001 paper by Tapping, Mathias, and Surkan as listed in the "References" below. That team has written a much more detailed and very interesting article, but as of 05Oct06 it hasn't been ublished yet, which is too bad, but at least they have given permission to post it on this website. Obviously, a great deal of research is going into the influence of climate change on health and disease, so that will provide fertile information that can be tied in with models that incorporate the influence of astronomy and geology on climate, with biology as possibly an important CO2 concentration mediator. The Tapping-Mathias-Surkan hypothesis of a pandemics correlation to solar activity (not as a primary variable) has been discussed in terms of the obvious climate link, but also in terms of direct solar radiation effects (eg UV and non-melanoma skin cancer as shown by others) or high rates of mutation driven by either solar or extremely high galactic radiation/ particles. There has also been discussion of possible immune system effects.

As this web-page has just been split off an earlier one, and my priority is currently on other web-pages (plus I'm hoping to convince others to help put together something), I'll simply copy over some comments from the study of civilisations which mentions this topic. Refer to the document for illustrations, but the best illustration of the concept is the paper by Tapping, Mathias, and Surkan as listed above, and from which the illustrations and their captions are taken:
    1. Pandemics - The cleansing of our sins, the promise of the future (OK - it's a crazy title at the current moment)

    This whole paper is really based on extending the Tapping, Mathias, and Surkan (TMS) theory of solar influence over global influenza pandemics since 1700 (ref). That theory shows an association between the incidence of pandemics and a certain phase of the solar cycle, as illustrated in Figures 10 through 12. Figure 10 shows that, as one would expect, pandemics occur irrespective of the phase of solar activity. However, the solar signature is surprisingly high. Why would the risks of a world wide pandemic be over twice as high in one phase of solar activity compared to lower-risk periods? Other datasets (unpublished, but with not quite as high a confidence level) may indicate an even higher risk. Moreover, dynamic and solar-pandemic phase analysis has not even been tried, and this appears to be a key question posed by Figure 11. Why are some solar cycles skipped? Is this just a random thing, is it dependent on the solar-climate phasing, or is it dependent on other dynamics?

    A plot of start years of pandemics (shown as spikes) and sunspot number. Pandemics listed by Garrett (1994) are shown as spikes to 200, topped with diamonds, and those listed by Potter (1998) as spikes to 150, topped with squares. The square at the 50 level, in 1999, represents the flu epidemic of 1999-.

    The 1946, 1957, 1968 and 1977 pandemics (shown as spikes) on a plot of the 10.7cm Solar Flux index. The flux values prior to 1947 (shown dotted) are estimated from sunspot data, and those beyond 2000 (also dotted) are estimated from a previous activity cycle. The small spike in 1999 represents the influenza epidemic in progress at that time.

    Distribution of the Pandemics in both lists as a function of phase offset from solar activity maximum. Data are normalized for a maximum of 100. The solar activity minimum lies at a phase offset of ±0.5. The activity maximum is at a phase offset of 0. The data in Garrett (1994) are shown in blue; those in Potter (1998) in brown. Sunspot Number is shown in red.

    The "skipped cycles" issue is especially interesting right now, as Figure 12 shows that the last two solar cycles were "skipped by influenza", so:
    • has modern medicine and technology conquered the pandemics, or
    • is the ~2010 peak period going to go badly, or
    • is the oncoming solar cycle, expected to be the second highest in at least 120 years and perhaps in 8,000 years, going to effectively prevent any pandemic from occurring?
    We'll find out soon enough, but my assumption is that the strong reactions that we've seen in recent years to stamp out potential sources of pandemics, together with the high temperatures of the solarwww. BillHowell.ca Mega Life, Mega Death, and the invisible hand of the Sun Page 14 of 73 driven Modern Warm Period, do not favor a pandemic anyways.

    Whether the sun-pandemic correlation is causative isn't really known yet, and it is still possible that the apparent relationship is a chance occurrence, although it is significant in a statistical sense. So the discussions above should not be taken as meaning that a causal link has been established. If one does assume that the relationship is causative, then why? The most obvious potential link could be the indirect role of the sun as a primary driver of climate changes, and the disease-climate linkage is a very intensive area of research and a key activity of climate science. That may provide much of the basic information needed, albeit for a theme in direct contradiction to the CO2 based thinking upon which the research is justified. However, another sun-pandemic link could be the solar magnetic field modulated variations in high energy (galactic) and lower energy (solar) radiation/particles. ?Aussie physicist? seems to have established a link between UV and non-melanoma skin cancers. Another TMS concept is the possible effect on the immune system, and "evolutionary epidemiology". In other words, perhaps there is a strong evolutionary advantage to having occasional epidemics of higher virulence, followed by relatively quiescent periods of more peaceful co-existence between disease and host.

    Of course, it is inappropriate to jump to too many hard conclusions on mere associations, but it is even worse to totally ignore data, especially when alternative theories are less well based. Other diseases have been looked at in a very preliminary fashion, without statistical analysis (see Howell "Ring around the rosies"). There are strong "visual indications" on the basis of extremely limited data that malaria, the bubonic plague, and cholera have a "solar signature", but not so much smallpox (although perhaps due to a lack of data). Measles and a couple of other diseases were recommended subjects of study, but nothing has been done for them.

    As far as cancers are concerned, preliminary searches didn't find anything beyond the Australian solar UV - non-melanoma link, but others may have already worked in this area. One interesting parallel is the concern over air crew exposure to circum-polar flights, especially during periods of peak solar activity (coronal mass ejections etc). Apparently, Lufthansa may have even implemented precautionary grounding of pregnant stewardesses even though there may not be convincing data of significant effects on the crews.

    But while we're on the subject of pandemics, Figure 13 is a very interesting illustration of the use of "virtual plagues" for evolutionary computation approaches to the solution of complex scientific and engineering problems that are "too difficult" for classical methods. The virtual plagues wipe out most of the population (we'll call these "solution agents" for simplicity, even though they're not "agents in the normal computational sense). The improve effectiveness of populations for finding solutions can be significant, and it makes one think if human disasters naturally accomplish the same thing! (At least there is some good that comes from the depths of despair?)

    There is much more to "Mega Life" and "Mega Death" than just pandemics as discussed in this section, but preliminary work has not been pulled together for locust swarms, crop diseases, floods, droughts, and natural factors that drive huge increases in agricultural productivity. And major campaigns of conquest are also of interest. These are for ongoing research.

References: selected articles, incomplete
  1. K.F. Tapping, R.G. Mathias, D.L. Surkan, "Pandemics and solar activity". Canadian J. Infectious Diseases, vol 12, no 1, pp 61-62, Jan-Feb 2001 (will have to remove from website unless I get permission).
  2. William F. Ruddiman "The anthropogenic greenhouse era began thousands of years ago" Climatic Change 61: 261–293, 2003 Peter McCandless "History 710/740: Research Seminar in Medical History" Spring 2003 mccandlessp@cofc.edu http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/collections/digital/syllabi/pdf/mccandless4.pdf
  3. K.F. Tapping, R.G. Mathias, D.L. Surkan "Pandemics and Solar Activity – Extended paper" Unpublished as of 09Mar06
  4. K.F. Tapping, R.G. Mathias, D.L. Surkan, "Influenza pandemics and solar activity". Canadian J. Infectious Diseases, vol 12, no 1, pp 61-62, Jan-Feb 2001
  5. Dianne L. Groll, David J. Thomson "Incidence of influenza in Ontario following the Universal Influenza Immunization Campaign" Vaccine xxx (2006) xxx–xxx (Elsevier journal in press as of Sep06)
  6. Norman F. Cantor "In the wake of the plague: The Black Death and the world it made", The Free Press, New York, 2001, pp245
  7. John M. Dunn "Life during the black death" Lucent Books, San Diego 2000 96pp
  8. Stephen Porter "The great plague" Sutton Publishing, Gloucester 1999 213pp
  9. S. Davis, M. Begon, L. De Bruyn, V.S. Ageyev, N.L. Klassovskly, S.B. Pole, H. Viljugrein, N. Chr. Stenseth, H. Leirs "Predictive Thresholds for Plague in Kazakhstan" Science, Volume 304, Issue 5671, 30 April 2004, Pages 736-738
  10. Germán Poveda, William Rojas, Martha L. Quiñones, Iván D. Vélez, Ricardo I. Mantilla, Daniel Ruiz, Juan S. Zuluaga, and Guillermo L. Rua "Coupling between Annual and ENSO Timescales in the Malaria–Climate Association in Colombia" Environmental Health Perspectives, vol 109, no5, May 2001
  11. Lena Huldén, Larry Huldén, Kari Heliövaara "Endemic malaria: an 'indoor' disease in northern Europe. Historical data analysed" Malaria Journal 2005, 4:19 doi:10.1186/1475-2875-4-19
  12. Norman Longate "King cholera" 1966 Hamish Hamilton, London 271pp
  13. Sheldon Watts, 'Cholera and Civilization: Great Britain and India, 1817-1920', and 'Afterword: To the Epidemiologic Transition?', in S. Watts, Epidemics and History: Disease, Power and Imperialism (London, Yale University Press, 1997), 167-212; 269-79.
  14. Kenneth Todar "Vibrio cholerae and Asiatic Cholera" © 2005 University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Bacteriology http://textbookofbacteriology.net/cholera.html

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Updates: 06Oct2016, 05May07, original 06Oct06