The Palos Verdes Sundancers were the ones who brought
on the solar cycles . . . they first appeared near the bottom of Cycle
20 when QST was reporting the possibility of another Maunder Minimum.
There was historical evidence that there was a time some hundreds
of years ago when there were no sunspots for a period of about seventy
years. This fact was discovered by someone named Maunder, hence
the name. In order to prevent such a dire reoccurrence, the
Palos Verdes Sundancers got out their grass skirts and the big bass
bongo, Big DX, and danced up the sunspots every 11 years or so.
The problem with the Sundancers was that after they got the flux up,
they lost interest and stopped dancing This plunged us into
another cycle minimum and they had to be coaxed into doing it all over
Palos Verdes Sundancers
We decided it was time to pay a visit to the Leader of the Palos Verdes Sundancers. Conditions had not been the best during the 5A1A operation and we were curious why. So we headed off for Palos Verdes country and found them down in the barrancas. It was clear there was a lot of activity and the melodies and heel- clicking was ringing in air. "What's up?", we asked, "The last time we were down, you were telling us about the switch to ragtime and the new approach. How's it working?" The Leader of the Palos Verdes Sundancers wiped the sweat from his brow and said, "Not very good. It looks like we will have to change tactics."
we asked, "why isn't the ragtime doing the trick?" "It's
complicated," replied the leader, "It is and it isn't. You
have to be careful to pick just the right style or the risks will
outweigh the benefits." We were not following, but since the Palos
Verdes Sundancers had brought on the last three sunspot cycles, they
were the experts. "What's wrong?", we asked. "Well,"
he replied, "it's not enough just to bring up the sunspot count.
When the 5A1A was on, we were going in three shifts, 24 hours a day. We
managed to get the flux up into the eighties, but we also started a
geomagnetic storm! For a couple of days the K index was hitting four and
five." We did not understand at all. "How did you cause the
geomagnetic storm?", we asked, with a confused look on our face.
"It's the accented bass in the ragtime that's doing it," he
replied. "The melody and 2-4 time gets the flux up, but the bass
causes shock waves in the interplanetary solar wind. We talked all this
over with the NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab in
We were starting to
wonder if perhaps the long shifts during the 5A operation had taken
their toll, but we knew better than to suggest this! Any true blue DXer
has to respect the Palos Verdes Sundancers. So we were properly
sympathetic and prompted the Leader with a quizzical look. "We
always coordinate these things with the scientific community." he
continued. "The ability to influence the solar cycle isn't to be
taken lightly. So we're going to try something different. We're going to
give up the ragtime and switch to
Son of a Gun! We'd expected something, but not this! "It's a sure thing," he continued, "The scientific staff at the JPL told us that bluegrass music, characterized by instrumental virtuosity, high-pitched vocals, and fast tempos would drive up the sunspot count and not affect geomagnetic activity. So we ordered mandolins, fiddles, and banjos as lead instruments. Just give us a few weeks to adjust our dancing to the new music and the solar flux will be well over 100 again. And there will be no significant geomagnetic activity, either! There will be DX for all!"
We slowly made our home, pondering what we had been told and trying to reconcile it with the Mysteries of the Ages. The previous success of the Palos Verdes Sundancers was not in question. These are trying times in this world of DX. Son of a Gun! If the folks at the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Palos Verdes Sundancers said bluegrass was the key, then bluegrass it is! Bring on Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys! Somewhere in the back of our mind though, we were beginning to doubt that any of the guys at the JPL were DXers . . . and we couldn't recall any of the SAREX or ISS missions counting for DXCC, either! But, we knew that to be a true blue DXer, you had to be a Believer! DX IS!
Thanks to Paul, VE1DX for this story