I've got an email, that because of the increased solar activity, more cosmic ray-s are hitting the earth. And for this reason, humans experience more stress and headache.

I know, it's not true. But I can not disprove it. Is it possible to check on a website, if there is an increased solar activity, or more cosmic rays are hitting the Earth, as usual?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this question. On the one hand, it's clearly legitimate. On the other, there's a string of assumptions underpinning it. Strings of assumptions are usually not a good thing. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Sep 26, 2016 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately there are many pseudoscience articles spreading on the internet. And the majority of it cannot be easily be disproven, by someone with average science knowledge. I know it was fake, but I did not know, where do I find the resources/articles to appropriately disprove it. $\endgroup$
    – Iter Ator
    Sep 27, 2016 at 9:02
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There are at least three claims in this email, none of which are true: That solar activity is currently increased (it isn't), that this leads to more cosmic rays (it doesn't, cosmic rays are called "cosmic", because they come from the cosmos, they have nothing to do with the sun, and they don't fluctuate on human timescales), and that this leads to increased stress and headache (it doesn't, after all, cosmic radiation has been pretty much constant for as long as humanity has existed). $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2016 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


Looks pretty darned quiet to me right now:

low level of proton events

You can find that here, along with other measures of space weather.

By the way, cosmic rays and solar activity are two entirely different things. Cosmic rays originate from outside of our solar system. The flux of cosmic rays is relatively constant.

As for your question about stress, indeed, I just experienced some added stress because people propagate stupid emails like that.

To be fair, I did in fact experience stress and headaches due to solar activity back in 2003. Right around Halloween it looked like this (note that these are log plots):

off-the-chart level of proton events

At that time I was the mission manager responsible for MER-A, also known as Spirit, in cruise on its way to Mars. This was the largest solar event that had ever been seen at that time, and so it wouldn't be MER if we hadn't been hit by it. As you can see, the event was, quite literally, off the chart. Both MER-A and MER-B were disabled by the event, losing their ability to track stars, and therefore unable to do turns or conduct maneuvers. Fortunately they were spinning spacecraft and were able to maintain attitude while they weathered the storm. In the meantime, we on the ground had no idea how long the storm would last, whether the star scanners would ever work again, and whether we would be able to get those spacecraft to their precise entry points at Mars.

So yes, solar activity can cause stress and headaches, if you happen to be a spacecraft operator, or you live in space. Or possibly, if you happen to operate electronic communication systems on the ground that are susceptible to space weather.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps if it's really bad, electricity outages can cause stress and other health effects for many. But it might improve problems for people claiming electromagnetic hypersensitivity ;-) $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Sep 26, 2016 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkAdler Is the unit on the left side of the plots read as Particles per square centimeter per second per steradian. I can't figure out how to interpret it, is it emitted or absorbed particles. Can you clear this up? $\endgroup$
    – WalyKu
    Sep 26, 2016 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ A spinning spacecraft does not need to constantly determine and adjust its attitude like a 3-D stabilized spacecraft does. Isaac Newton does all the work to keep a spinning spacecraft pointed in inertial space. Eventually though we needed to move that spin axis to keep Earth from drifting out of view of the medium-gain antenna, which requires attitude knowledge. But that time scale is several days to weeks. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Sep 26, 2016 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @gerrit "On the evening of Monday, March 12, 1989 the vast cloud of solar plasma (a gas of electrically charged particles) finally struck Earth's magnetic field. The violence of this 'geomagnetic storm' caused spectacular 'northern lights' that could be seen as far south as Florida and Cuba. The magnetic disturbance was incredibly intense. It actually created electrical currents in the ground beneath much of North America. Just after 2:44 a.m. on March 13, the currents found a weakness in the electrical power grid of Quebec. In less than 2 minutes, the entire Quebec power grid lost power. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Sep 26, 2016 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ ... During the 12-hour blackout that followed, millions of people suddenly found themselves in dark office buildings and underground pedestrian tunnels, and in stalled elevators. Most people woke up to cold homes for breakfast. The blackout also closed schools and businesses, kept the Montreal Metro shut during the morning rush hour, and closed Dorval Airport." $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Sep 26, 2016 at 19:43

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