THE RHYTHMS OF PROLIFIC BREEDING OF ORGANISMS DETERMINED BY CYCLIC SOLAR ACTIVITY The development and entire life of any organism— from microscopic bacteria to the higher animals— depends not only upon the immediate en vironment, which at the present level of science and technology can be fairly easily modified inthe desired direction, but also upon the solar radia tion which supplies our planet with light and heat and as a result of which life has emerged and developed, and is sustained to this day on Earth.
The classical research of K. A. Timiryazev has revealed the pattern of photosynthesis whereby the chlorophyll in plants entraps and converts the energy of light or of solar radiation into chemical energy in the organic substances. However, beyond the limits of visible light lies the region of invisible radiation, especially that of the short ultraviolet (UV) rays. This radiation is endowed with high biological and chemical activity which influences not only the course of certain chemical reactions (including the state of colloid solutions), but also the formation of proteins. These natural processes are still not clearly understood, and should be thoroughly investigated since they directly affect the development of progressive agriculture.
Ultraviolet radiation varies markedly during the 11-year cycle of solar activity, causing significant changes in the energy balance of the ionosphere, stratosphere, and finally the Earth's surface. The Sun has a tremendous effect on all processes wherever they take place, from the highest layers of the ionosphere to the troposphere. The uneven time and spatial distribu tion of solar energy in the gaseous envelope and over the surface results in severe frosts in the Antarctica (-87°C), while our thermometer recorded +82.2°C on the sands and gray soils of tropical deserts in Asia.
Solar radiation determines displacement of enormous air masses on our planet, and also variations in barometric pressure. It governs the direc tion and volume of ocean currents, and the evaporation and transport of millions of cubic kilometers of water, thus determining the weather on all continents. It may variously give rise to violent storms that carry away the fertile topsoil, prolonged droughts that nearly destroy entire harvests, and torrential rains (considerably heavier than the normal atmospheric precipitation) that inundate extensive areas. Obviously, such extreme
fluctuations of weather conditions must affect the development of vegetation, including crops, and the breeding of all organisms including agricultural pests.
In the interest of the national economy biologists and agronomists must focus their attention on the following: 1. The effect of solar radiation on the specific rhythm of proliferation of as many organisms as possible, especially of insect pests, and particularly of those insects that multiply periodically in great masses over extensive areas causing heavy damage to crops; and also the possi bility of foreseeing the menace of such a population explosion of the insect pests by correlating it with the rhythm of solar activity.
2. The changes in the cellular microstructures of living organisms induced by internal and external factors, in order to recognize more clearly the pattern of development and multiplication of organisms, both harmful to and useful for agriculture.
It would be erroneous to assume that these two problems (especially the first) could only be studied by a narrow group of specialists in astronomy, climatology, and meteorology. Every biologist, agronomist, and any other agricultural specialist can and should observe and study the pheno mena taking place in the surrounding environment in an endeavor not only to collect the necessary data, but also to analyze them and to draw the appropriate conclusions. Simple observations of the weather and of the mass reproduction of useful and harmful species conducted without the aid of instruments might prove to be of both scientific and practical value, provided they are recorded regularly over a period of many years.
Evidently, the solution of biological and agricultural problems will be achieved only by embarking on new untrodden paths of research. Occasionally, even remote branches of science will bring us nearer to understanding the laws of nature and to controlling them for the benefit of man.