My friend's mother is about to undergo some treatment in magnetic field therapy for osteoarthritis and he is trying to verify if this is useful as claimed, or if this has any harmful effects. The website of their institution claims that:

In Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight to space, he returned in near critical condition after only one hour and forty-eight minutes in space. Clearly, there was some vital element missing in space that we receive on earth. Yuri had plenty of food, water and oxygen and since the flight was less than 2 hours, he only needed oxygen. The critical missing element appears to be the earth’s magnetic field. Since that first flight, pulsed magnetic devices have been used in every space suit and space station. Further studies have been done on earth (zero field studies) with both laboratory animals and human subjects.

Did he really end up in critical condition as it is claimed? Was it verified that this was due to the missing magnetic field?

  • 150
    pulsed magnetic devices have been used in every space suit and space station is a blatant lie.
    – user22865
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 9:12
  • 67
    Magnetic therapy will have exactly as many harmful effects as helpful ones: zero.
    – hdhondt
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 10:22
  • 13
    @hdhondt Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a legitimate diagnostic tool ... but I share your skepticism for this particular treatment. Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 10:35
  • 11
    FWIW: The page is blocked by Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools Cloud (Malware) when I tried to go to that website. It's fishy anyway, hugedomains.com says the domain is for sale.
    – user22865
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 11:17
  • 52
    Purely anecdotal: I've once spend three hours in the absence of the earth's magnetic field while sitting in an actively shielded chamber of an MEG. I felt quite fine. :)
    – Emil
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 15:26

4 Answers 4



Vostok 1 reached an Apogee of 327 km. That is well within Earth's magnetosphere.

Aside from that, and aside from certain sensory effects that can be experienced when exposed to strong magnetic fields, the human body doesn't care much for magnetism, or the lack of it.

The one thing that would make a lack of magnetism in space harmful would be solar wind (which Earth's magnetic field deflects). Before you get that high, you'd pass through the Van Allen radiation belt, where the presence of Earth's magnetic field results in an increase of radiation.

Either way, "pulsed magnetic devices" in a space suit won't make a difference, and I seriously doubt they exist. (See comments -- they don't.)

In the end, the most competent person to answer these kind of questions would be a doctor, not the internet (or someone who would directly make money from a given therapy).

Post Scriptum:

I had a look at the website you linked. This one (from the "about us" page) is a howler:

Till date over 6500 cases of Osteoarthritis have been treated...

Note that it says "treated", no mention on success rates.

...and clinical trials on terminally ill Cancer patients have been successfully completed.

The trials have been "successfully completed", but not a word about the results. I think if they had been curing "terminally ill Cancer patients", even just a couple of them, we would have heard about it in mainstream media for sure.

And I mean mainstream media, not the kind they present on their website. My personal favourite there is the DNA Sunday "article" which is marked "ADVI" (advertisment). So they list one of their own advertisments as media reference?

Stay well clear.

  • 26
    The only thing that I don't get is why we need to know the astrological sign of these terminally ill patients. ;) Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 17:20
  • 3
    Poor English either way, you cannot treat a terminally ill patient, he or she is beyond treatment at that stage.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 18:13
  • 1
    Well, I guess that they could mean to provoke remission on patients considered as terminally ill for regular (proven and usually somewhat efficient) therapies, but that would be blatant lies again?
    – Ando Jurai
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 7:27
  • 3
    Let's add: schematics of the Apollo suit. They were definitely outside range of Earth's magnetosphere, and there's no "pulsed magnetic device" to be found anywhere within the schematics of the suits.
    – SF.
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 12:49
  • 2
    @NeilMeyer You can treat a terminally ill patient, for example giving them pain relief or other kinds of help. It's called Palliative care.
    – rjmunro
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 11:40

The part about magnetic fields has already been covered by DevSolar's answer. I will attempt to cover whether Yuri Gagarin was ever in "critical condition".

The Vostok 1's landing program consisted of the pilot ejecting from the descent module when it was approx 7km above sea level, and parachuting to the ground alone. The descent module was designed to fall to the ground separately. This is independently reported in multiple sources.

Yuri Gagarin had to parachute down alone from 7km, successfully land, find the nearby villagers for assistance, and finally telephone Moscow for them to bring him back to the city. This shows that Gagarin was in reasonable health at that time, since this is pretty much impossible for someone who is "in critical condition", whatever definition they may use for that.

  • 22
    ...apart from that – the entire mission probably wasn't a picknick. Plenty of things you could attribute “critical condition” to, without resorting to magnetic fields... Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 13:21
  • 59
    Case in point, the referenced article mentions an "ejection seat", which likely means the occupant was subjected to a fairly violent process. Far more reasonable to attribute any health issues to that than to magnetism (or lack thereof). To say nothing of the launch process itself, potential motion sickness, and/or mental stress from basically being a human guinea pig in an experiment that could easily kill you in any number of unpleasant ways.
    – aroth
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 13:31
  • 18
    @aroth Ejection seats are not inherently violent. In an aircraft ejection they always are because they have to eject the person fast enough to clear control surfaces and with modern seats they're also built to allow a pilot to eject at the last second--you need to get away from the impending fireball. A planned ejection from a falling capsule has no such need, it could be gentle. Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 1:57
  • 7
    @LorenPechtel - Yes, it could have been. That's why I qualified by saying "likely". It seems plausible, given the Russians were racing the U.S. to space, that they may have reused an existing ejection system rather than creating a purpose-built one. However it's not clear from the references provided if that was the case or not; they just establish than an "ejection seat" was used. More info regarding its design/specifications would be useful.
    – aroth
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 2:28
  • 3
    @AndoJurai reading ru-wiki (if u want, do www.translate.ru over ru-wiki page for Gagarin ) now, it says: Gagarin was in a hermetic space-suit, the air-pipe with Vostok was disconnected ok, and this should had automatically open a valve, connecting suit insides with the air around him. It failed. Gagarin was somewhat suffocating and struggled to open a valve manually, he succeeded. This I think shows that the suit was isolated really well and chill air inlet was relatively slow, making instant frostbites unlikely.
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 12:46

In addition to everything else that was mentioned already, according to this article, Gagarin reported back to headquarters that he was in good health shortly after landing.

There are also pictures of him not long after, apparently, as he is still in flight suit, e.g. here: https://bashny.net/t/es/140240 - and he seems to be perfectly fine.

Primary sources can probably be found on the Russian Internet. So if you care much, find a friend who speaks Russian.

  • 2
    Google Translate - мой друг, который плохо говорит по-русски. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 12:21
  • 6
    Of course, in the propaganda climate of that time it's very well possible that these pictures are completely forged. (For instance, taken before takeoff and published later.) Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 9:48
  • @DavidRicherby - try www.translate.ru
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 12:40
  • 2
    @FedericoPoloni indeed, for example public videos of Gagarin starting reportedly were staged after his return. However, month after landing Gagarin was sent to over-the-world trip, to settle USSR triumph. For example 18 July 1961 he was in Cuba: youtube.com/watch?v=Vd0B-zyxrL4 . Now you may say, Cuba being USSR-friendly and USA-antagonistic could play into such a propaganda effort, but in the same very July Gagarin also visited London, UK. And UK would have little compel to suppress any health issues Gagarin could have.
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 12:51
  • 2
    Another side of the same coin, @FedericoPoloni , "in the propaganda climate of that time it's very well possible that" fake rumors about Gagarin health problems were intentionally created and disseminated to undermine USSR achievement. Compare today media wars around Syria
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 8:40

Юрий Гагарин: "Я чувствовал себя хорошо..."

Yuri Gagarin: "I was feeling well ..."

If the "missing magnetic field" problem would be actual for Yuri Gagarin, who was in space for about an hour (1 hour and 48 minutes total flight time), how the extended missions for Valeri Polyakov could be possible?

Valeri Vladimirovich Polyakov (Russian: Валерий Владимирович Поляков, born Valeri Ivanovich Korshunov on April 27, 1942) is a Russian former cosmonaut. He is the holder of the record for the longest single stay in space in human history, staying aboard the Mir space station for more than 14 months (437 days 18 hours) during one trip. His combined space experience is more than 22 months.

As for Yuri Gagarin, there were many reasons for him to return in a nearly critical conditions. Reported dynamic acceleration during gyrations on the reentry phase of that flight was 8g, which is about maximum an average human can stand for extended period (more that few seconds).

Gagarin was selected and trained to stand dynamic acceleration. Just as other cosmonauts he was trained to stand the conditions which might well kill an average untrained man. Not only he stayed conscious all of the flight, he was reporting to earth during the flight, making records using paper and a tape recorder. He was also observing the navigation device "Взор" (Sight).

The last situation which could potentially be dangerous during the flight was right upon exiting the "Sharik" (little ball - the descent vehicle). Gagarin described the ejection seat to carry him out of "Sharik":

Так тихонько голову кверху повернул, и в этот момент выстрел — и я катапультировался — быстро, хорошо, мягко, ничем не стукнулся.

Подробнее см.: https://www.nkj.ru/archive/articles/19414/ (Наука и жизнь, Юрий Гагарин: «Я чувствовал себя хорошо...» (Комментарий к Главному полёту ХХ века))

"..and I was catapulted - fast, good and gently; did not hit anything".

The rest was parachuting descent from 7 kilometers.

After returning to earth atmosphere Gagarin could be able to participate in following activities:

  • Struggling to reach the handle of breathing valve for 6 minutes while he was probably suffocating
  • Safely grounding in 7 meters per second wind conditions (In my own experience that requires good physical mode).
  • Walking
  • Signaling to the people who saw him
  • Contacting local military authorities
  • Photographing with the locals
  • Coordinating his own returning

It suggests he was not in a critical health state out of space trip by no means, whether it could be caused by missing magnetic field, weightlessness, homesickness or something else.

  • according to ru-wiki, Gagarin was in isolated space-suit, and after his catapulting (which broke air pipes connection with "Sharik") he found the valve opening the suit to atmosphere jammed. So he was suffocating, while emergently fixing the problem. So, "The rest was normal parachuting descent." is not absolutely so :-D
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 12:55
  • 1
    @Arioch Sure, edited to include that detail. It only confirms that by the time he returned he was good enough to stand that condition too, which was not arising from any virtual 'lack of magnetic field' in space. Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 17:13
  • 1
    Well, according to charlatans from OP, Valeri would already benefit from 'pulsed magnetic device' installed on the station or in his underwear. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 14:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .