The Schumann resonances (or frequencies) are quasi-standing electromagnetic waves that exist in the cavity (or space) between the surface of the Earth and the ionosphere. In 1952, German physicist Professor Winfried Otto Schumann of the Technical University of Munich began attempting to answer whether the Earth itself has a frequency – a pulse. His assumption about the existence of this frequency came from his understanding that when a sphere exists inside another sphere, electrical tension is created. Since the negatively charged Earth exists inside the positively charged ionosphere, there must be tension between the two, giving the Earth a specific frequency. Through a series of calculations, he was able to deduce a frequency he believed was the pulse of the Earth-ionosphere space. Two years later, in 1954, Schumann and Herbert König reported reliable and predictable frequencies in the atmosphere that existed in the cavity (or space) between the surface of the Earth and the ionosphere. Though several frequencies occur between 6 and 50 cycles per second, the fundamental frequency they found to be 7.83 Hz.1
This “cavity” is naturally excited by energy from lightning discharges and radio atmospheric signals or sferics. (A sferic is a broadband electromagnetic impulse that occurs as a result of natural atmospheric lightning discharges.) This causes the Earth-ionosphere cavity to "ring" like a bell at specific frequencies, resulting in peaks in the noise spectrum. Schumann resonances are not measurable all the time but have to be “excited” to be observed. They are primarily related to electrical activity in the atmosphere, particularly during times of intense lightning activity. At any given moment, about 2,000 thunderstorms roll over Earth, producing some 50 flashes of lightning every second. Each lightning burst creates electromagnetic waves that begin to circle around Earth captured between Earth's surface and a boundary about 60 miles up. Some of the waves - if they have just the right wavelength - combine, increasing in strength, to create a repeating “atmospheric heartbeat” known as Schumann resonance. This resonance provides a useful tool to analyze Earth's weather, its electric environment, and to even help determine what types of atoms and molecules exist in Earth's atmosphere.2
Lightning photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library,
OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)
The waves created by lightning do not look like the up and down waves of the ocean, but they still oscillate with regions of greater energy and lesser energy. These waves remain trapped inside an atmospheric ceiling created by the lower edge of the "ionosphere" - a part of the atmosphere filled with charged particles, which begins about 60 miles up in the sky. In this case, the sweet spot for resonance requires the wave to be as long (or twice, three times as long, etc.) as the circumference of Earth. This is an extremely low frequency wave that can be as low as 8 Hertz (Hz) - some 100,000 times lower than the lowest frequency radio waves used to send signals to an AM/FM radio. As this wave flows around Earth, it hits itself again at the perfect spot such that the crests and troughs are aligned. Thus, waves act in resonance with each other to pump up the original signal.3, 4
The ionosphere is part of Earth’s upper atmosphere where extreme ultraviolet and X-ray solar radiation ionizes the atoms and molecules thus creating a layer of electrons. It stretches from approximately 60 miles above the surface of the Earth to the edge of space. Other phenomena such as energetic charged particles and cosmic rays also have an ionizing effect and can contribute to the ionosphere. This dynamic region grows and shrinks (and further divides into sub-regions) based on solar conditions and is a critical link in the chain of Sun-Earth interactions. Due to spectral variability of the solar radiation and the density of various constituents in the atmosphere, there are layers created within the ionosphere, called the D, E, and F-layers. The electron density is highest in the upper, or F region and this region exists during both daytime and nighttime. During the day it is ionized by solar radiation, during the night by cosmic rays. The D region disappears during the night compared to the daytime, and the E region becomes weakened. Highly charged ions and free electrons fill the ionospheric layers creating a “spectral power station”. Schumann frequencies are determined by the size of the Earth-ionosphere cavity and can vary slightly from a variety of other factors, such as solar-induced perturbations to the ionosphere, which compresses the upper wall of the closed cavity.5
When a solar flare occurs, the flare’s X-ray energy increases the ionization of all the layers, including the D layer. Thus, D now becomes strong enough to reflect the radio waves at a lower altitude. So, during a solar flare, the waves travel less distance (bouncing off D instead of E or F). The signal strength usually increases because the waves don’t lose energy penetrating the D layer. However, the strength of very low frequency waves (radio frequencies in the range of 3 to 30 kilohertz) can either increase or decrease during a flare. The signal strength could decrease because the lower the waves reflect, the more collisions, or interferences of waves, there will be because of the thicker atmosphere. These wave collisions can result in destructive interference.
Image Schumann Resonances - NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Scientists had thought Schumann resonance was confined within the atmosphere and could only be observed from the planet's surface. Using NASA's Vector Electric Field Instrument (VEFI) aboard a U.S. Air Force satellite, scientists recently discovered that energy from the resonance sometimes leaks beyond Earth and can be detected from above, providing a new tool to analyze the chemical and physical makeup of the atmosphere.
Observations by NASA's Vector Electric Field Instrument on this Air Force satellite changed scientists' understanding of Schumann resonance.
Much of the research in the last 20 years has been conducted by the Department of the Navy, which investigates Extremely Low Frequency communication with submarines. Today Schumann resonances are recorded at many separate research stations around the world. The sensors used to measure Schumann resonances typically consist of two horizontal magnetic inductive coils for measuring the north-south and east-west components of the magnetic field, and a vertical electric dipole antenna for measuring the vertical component of the electric field. Specialized receivers and antennas are needed to detect and record Schumann resonances.
Recording of Schumann Resonances
Though 7.83 is considered the fundamental Schumann resonance, other frequencies occur between 6 and 50 cycles per second; specifically 7.8, 14, 20, 26, 33, 39 and 45 Hertz, with a daily variation of about +/- 0.5 Hertz (Hz) These frequencies function as a background frequency influencing the biological circuitry of much of the life on Earth. The amount of resonance fluctuates as the ionosphere becomes more or less dense, which depends largely on the amount of solar radiation striking it. Another influence is that the world's three lightning hotspots - Asia, Africa, and South America - also follow a day/night cycle and are seasonal as well. Thus, the peaks of radio signal strength at the Schumann resonance follow a constantly shifting, but reasonably predictable, schedule.
Schumann Resonances and its Biological Effects
Schumann himself was interested in the biological effects of sferics in general, and his student - and later colleague - Herbert König continued his work. Schumann and König’s research revealed relationships between Schumann resonances and life on Earth. Their research spans from an influence on yeast cells and bacteria as well as plants and animals to humans.
Herbert König, who became Schumann’s successor at Munich University, discovered and further demonstrated a clear link between Schumann resonances and brain rhythms. He compared human EEG recordings with natural electromagnetic fields of the environment and found that the so-called alpha waves during brain activity lie in the same frequency range as the first two modes of the Schumann resonance. He speculated that this is possibly no coincidence, but a human adaptation to the electromagnetic environment over the long course of evolution. In this border area between physics, biology and medicine there are perhaps still interesting results forthcoming.6, 7
König and his colleagues described the remarkable similarities of spectral power density profiles and patterns between the Earth-ionosphere resonance and human brain activity which also share magnitudes for both electric field and magnetic field components. Since then, the phenomenon that brain rhythms may overlap and become synchronous with ultra-low frequency electromagnetic activity occurring within this resonant cavity has been observed and reiterated by other scientists.8, 9, 10
To test direct synchrony between magnetic processes occurring in the Earth-ionosphere cavity and the human brain, Saroka and Persinger measured simultaneously the Schumann resonance and brain electrical activity of a single individual who was sitting quietly outside with eyes-closed.11 Results of the analysis indicated the presence of transient periods of “harmonic synchrony” that appeared when cross-channel coherence was computed between the caudal root-mean-square signal derived from the brain and the extremely low frequency magnetic activity occurring in the proximal environment. These periods of harmonic synchrony lasted approximately 200 – 300 msec and consisted of simultaneous coherence within the 7–-8, 13–14 and 19–20 Hz bands. The coherence magnitudes were like those reported earlier by Pobachenko and colleagues.12
All behaviors, including consciousness, are generated by and correlated with brain activity. The activity can be conceived as complex matrices of electromagnetic patterns and their associated chemical changes. Weak intensity complex magnetic fields generated by the Earth and by human technology affect consciousness and experience. The critical factor is not the intensity of the fields, but their patterns and the information contained within the patterns. Those patterns that are most like the natural temporal configurations of brain activity are most effective.
— Michael Persinger13
Biophysics now suggests that our biological systems are tuned into the background frequency of our planet via the Schumann resonances. Since this first discovery, more scientific research has posited that Schumann resonances are very important electromagnetic standing waves influencing biological oscillators within the mammalian brain. A living system has many similar resonant frequencies due to their degrees of freedom, where each can vibrate as a harmonic oscillator supporting the progression of vibrations as waves that move as a ripple within the whole system.14, 15
The first five Schumann resonances overlap with the brain frequency bands or waves. Brain waves are grouped according to their frequencies and are labeled with Greek letters. Their most common frequencies include delta, theta, alpha, and beta.
Delta: 0.5 - 4 Hz This brain rhythm occurs in a deep dreamless sleep or unconsciousness. This is associated with drowsiness.
Theta: 4 - 7 Hz This brain rhythm is associated with drowsiness. It also occurs at the first stage of sleep and during deep meditation, when we are awake but open to mental imagery. It has been associated with creativity, intuition, daydreaming and fantasizing. It is believed to reflect activity from the limbic system and increased activity is observed in anxiety, behavioral activation and inhibition.
Alpha: 7 - 12 Hz This is the major rhythm seen in a normal, relaxed adult. It is present during most of life. It is considered a common state during alertness but not actively processing information. Alpha has been linked to creativity (creative people show alpha when listening and coming to a solution) and mental work. Alpha activity is also associated with overall mental and body/mind coordination, calmness, alertness and learning.
Beta: 12- 30 Hz Beta reflects highly active processing. It occurs during normal waking consciousness and outward attention. Slow beta: 12-17 is normal information processing and mental activity; Fast beta: 17-30 is heightened alertness and fight or flight, or anxiety.
Gamma: 30 - 100 Hz This is associated with waking states and can occur when we are simultaneously processing information in both brain hemispheres. Whales and dolphins also operate in these frequencies.
Resonance and Entrainment
Quantum physics has shown that everything in the universe vibrates and resonates with a unique frequency. Resonance occurs when a given system tuned to a certain frequency begins to oscillate or amplifies the presence of a preferential external frequency. Those frequencies that maximize or amplify a given object tuned to a specific frequency are called resonant frequencies. Together, two frequencies have the power to influence each other, if both are tuned in concordance for resonance. Simply put, one vibrational frequency can harmonize with another. If, for example, you strike a tuning fork of 100 cycles per second and bring it near another tuning fork of that same frequency, the second tuning fork will be set in motion. Even though it has not been struck, the second fork will begin to vibrate and radiate a sound merely by being in the same field as the vibrating tuning fork. Like the tuning fork example, evidence shows it is possible for the brain to detect, tune into and respond to a Schumann resonance signal. Another example of resonance is demonstrated when a singer breaks a glass by singing at a certain pitch. The frequency of that tone matches the natural frequency of the glass, shattering it.
Entrainment is the process whereby two interacting oscillating systems, which have different periods when they function independently, assume a common period. The two oscillators may fall into synchrony, but other phase relationships are also possible. The system with the greater frequency slows down, and the other speeds up. In other words, one vibrational frequency can tune the other, train it into harmony. It is more than plausible that humans and various Earth life forms are tuned or resonate to these Schumann vibrations of Earth-ionosphere cavity. Research in Russia has also confirmed this phenomenon.16, 17
Alterations of the Schumann Resonances
Schumann frequencies have wrapped life on Earth since its inception. Atmospheric electric discharges generate broadband electromagnetic waves that propagate between the surface and the ionosphere. These two layers define the surface‐ionosphere cavity, which supports two types of electromagnetic modes: (i) longitudinal modes corresponding to global, quasi‐horizontal wave propagation around the globe and (ii) transverse modes related to local, quasi‐vertical propagation between the surface and the ionosphere.18
Driven by lightning, and affected by solar flares, these primal Schumann resonance pulses are thought to calibrate us and enhance our physical and mental well-being. That natural resonance helps us achieve our optimal brainwave states, but this atmosphere-to-human linkage has been recently disrupted by the electrosmog of much of today’s technology.
Several human reaction-time experiments have been conducted relative to Schumann resonances. König showed that human reaction times were significantly correlated with the intensity of the 8-10 Hz Schumann signal. Ten (10) Hz has been shown to speed up physiological reaction times, while 3-Hz signals from local thunderstorms have been shown to significantly lower reaction times. This phenomenon can be demonstrated by changes in EEG patterns and calcium ion uptake in the brain.
Research carried out by E. Jacobi at the University of Düsseldorf showed that the absence of Schumann waves creates mental and physical health problems in the human body.19 Following up on this research, Professor R. Wever from the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Erling-Andechs began a study where he built an underground bunker that completely screened out magnetic fields. He then had student volunteers live in the bunker for four weeks, where they were hermetically sealed in this environment. Throughout the four weeks, Professor Wever noted that the student’s circadian rhythms diverged and that they suffered emotional distress and migraine headaches. Considering that they were young and healthy, no serious health conditions presented - which likely would not have been the case with older people or people with compromised immune systems. Wever then added the Schumann frequency back into the environment and the results were astonishing. After only a brief exposure to 7.8 Hz (the frequency which he had been screening out), the volunteers’ health stabilized.20