Sun Tornadoes the Size of Earth Captured in Breathtaking Video

Last month I blogged about the remarkable solar storms we’ve been witnessing, in Solar  Storm January 2012 – How is it Changing You and the World.  The storms continue, producing some of the most spectacular aurora viewing the world has seen in a long time.  Thanks to technology and our ability to record images as never before, videos have become available of some pretty remarkable phenomena on the surface of the sun.

One such phenomena that’s captured my awe and interest are the solar tornadoes.  These vortexes caused by plasma eruptions are so immense they could contain entire earth-sized planets.  Unlike our earth-bound tornadoes, however, these aren’t driven by the wind.  What drives them is the powerful magnetic field of our star.  The particles are pulled this way and that by competing magnetic forces and then track along strands of magnetic field lines.

Watch this video, captured earlier this month, and consider these titans are whirling at about 300,000 mph.  It just leaves you awestruck.   The SDO spacecraft which captured this footage recorded the video in the extreme ultraviolet range of the light spectrum, giving the movie an eerie yellow hue.

NASA released the new SDO video to mark the second anniversary of the spacecraft’s mission, launched on Feb. 11, 2010. The $850 million spacecraft is on a five-year mission to record high-definition videos of the sun to help astronomers better understand how the sun’s solar weather cycle affects life on Earth.

The current solar activity is part of an 11-year weather cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, and is expected to peak in 2013.

Solar Storm January 2012—How is it Changing You and the World?

Picture taken less than 24 hours of the posting of this article.

I need to pay attention to the news more than I do.  We’re currently in the throes one of the most intense proton sun flares we’ve seen since 2005.  It’s dangerous enough that high altitude flights which normally travel at high latitudes are flying lower to reduce radiation risk.  Astronauts are to stay “indoors” and avoid space-walking, but levels aren’t high enough to pose any higher alarm than that.

The Current Solar Storm

The coronal mass ejection took place on January 22nd and is still hurtling at the earth at a rate of 1,400 miles per second.  If you haven’t been keeping abreast of it, this geomagnetic storm is causing some mild radio blackouts and power grid fluctuations.  Most of those fluctuations are being handled at main grid levels so most of us aren’t seeing much of an affect.  There is a possibility if it goes on for a long time, though, transformers may be damaged and that’s a worst case scenario.  On the up-side, the auroras may be visible at latitudes as far south as New York City.

What Exactly is a Geomagnetic Storm?

Our planet’s magnetic field diverts most solar particles into a path around the Earth in a circular fashion.  Without it, we’d be burned to a crisp.  Like our weather patterns, solar wind patterns can change quickly but the magnetosphere, Earth’s protective field, quickly responds to the threat and absorbs the impact, wriggling in the process.  Geophysicists call this reaction a geomagnetic storm.

Solar wind's affect on the earth's magnetosphere.

What is the Effect on People?

But I have to wonder.  What effects do these solar flares have on people?  I’ve found that not only do they affect us biologically, they affect us mentally and emotionally too.  Studies have shown there is an undeniable direct link between increased solar activity and geomagnetic storms to peaks in mood disorders.  Oleg Shumilov of the Institute of North Industrial Ecology Problems in Russia researched activity in the Earth’s geomagnetic field from 1948 to 1997 and found a remarkable increase in the amount of depression, anxiety, bi-polar (mood swings), aggression and even suicides in the northern Russian city of Kirovsk over the same period.  The book Solar Rain-The Earth Changes Have Begun in 2003 also outlines the effects on humans and animals extensively.  So, if you’re feeling edgier than usual there’s a good chance it’s due to the solar storm.

When looking at why it affects us, you have to consider the brain’s pineal gland.  It’s sensitive to magnetic fields.  This is the gland which regulates circadian rhythm and melatonin production.  It’s our “biological clock” and it’s not specific to only humans.  Plants, other animals, cyanobacteria and fungi have one as well.   The electromagnetic field is one of the environmental cues this “clock” uses to run.  When increased or extreme solar activity affects the fields, our own mental state can easily become “off.”  It even affects hormone levels.

Solar Flares Contribute to War and Global Conflict

Cold hard evidence points to the fact that wars and international conflicts most often erupt when sunspots, the cause of these lovely solar flares, are rapidly forming or rapidly decaying.  In 1915 Russian scientist Alexander Chizhevsky began work on a study that observed mass changes in human behavior correlated to sunspot cycles.  Professor Raymond Wheeler, a historian at the University of Kansas, then took this observation even further in the 1930s, assigning numerical rankings to the severity of battles as they correlated to solar cycles.  Edward Dewey then validated the existence of these war cycles but couldn’t make a provable connection to sunspot cycles because sufficient data at that time wasn’t available.  By the 1980s it was.  Wheeler’s data was analyzed in more detail and the correlation was proven valid.

Eruption footage from January 23, 2012.

A Not-So-Scientific View

Some believe large solar flares can also affect us on other levels.  It’s thought to increase creativity, ESP, dreaming, visions and other spiritual phenomenon aiding our spiritual growth.  On the flip side it’s also said to cause earth changes that are damaging to life such as an increase in violent earthquakes and weather patterns.  Some believe this peak in solar activity over the last 10 years is ushering in the transition foretold in many cultures prophecies and legends; an end of the old ways and a beginning of the new.

“We too have magnetic fields which surround each of us. I think it is not unrealistic to conjecture what is happening “externally” is also happening “internally”. I believe current science will acknowledge this notion, showing the Sun’s “charged particles” and its influence on Earth’s magnetic field is the impetus of change. In-like, this same causal effect occurs with human magnetic fields ushering in a change or “transition”. Perhaps this is what our Mayan elders are trying to tell us.” –

All this inevitably points to the end-of-the-world hype.  To be honest, I’ve never believed the world will “end” with some cataclysmic turn of events.  I don’t believe humanity will be wiped out precisely on December 21, 2012.  What I do feel is that human culture is in the death throes of a way of being that no longer works.  We are too many.  We are no longer isolated pockets of humanity but a global village.  Diversity and divergence are forcing the abandonment of old dogmas and stigmas and demanding we re-evaluate, regroup and reorganize.  We have to shed our old “skins” and find a more suitable way of living with ourselves and our environment with a new level of responsibility.

But to usher in change of such an unprecedented magnitude for all of humanity, it has to begin on the level of the individual.  Perhaps existence itself, in its unfathomable wisdom, has decided to help us along.  Perhaps there are wheels of some timeless machine turning we’re not capable of understanding, whether it’s been created by our collective consciousness or something else.  Even in the discomfort of a solar flare, perhaps minute changes are taking place that are necessary in some grander cosmic plan.  I have no clue, but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Video of yesterday’s solar flare (January 23, 2012).  This is magnificent.

Related links:

Solar Cycles and War
Circadian rhythm
A Raging Solar Storm
Solar Flares!  Are You Affected?