Would you like to go to a voluntary isolation? Well, let’s reformulate: would you stay in a place for 40 days with no smartphones and clocks but your friends? An interesting experiment with the aforementioned conditions was organized by a team of 15 people in France.
Quite Useful Project, Namely Deep Time
15 people left their ‘place of residence’ recently, as The Guardian reports. Their relatives met them with applauds. And though for those outside, they were heroes, when listening to the group members, it becomes clear they didn’t want to leave the Lombrives cave (in the South France) so soon.
“It was like pressing pause,” said Marina Lançon, one of seven women that took participation in the experiment. Jokily, she even accused those who ‘opened the doors’ in taking them out. However, she said it’s a true happiness to feel the wind and hear birdsong again. Of course, they were wearing special glasses to protect their eye after being in a cave for so long time.
As for the living conditions, there was no natural light, the temperature was 10C and the relative humidity 100%. They were blocked from the outside world completely. However, scientists were tracking the 15 team members’ sleep patterns, social interactions and behavioral reactions via sensors. Say, one of the sensors was a tiny thermometer inside a capsule that participants swallowed like a pill. It was measuring body temperature and transmitting data to computers in laboratories in France and Switzerland.
However, this was not done for fun. The Deep Time project costs €1.2m and it was led by scientists at the Human Adaption Institute. As they said, this project has a goal to understand how people adapt to drastic changes in living conditions and environments.
With No Clocks, How They Did Sense Time?
As the project director Christian Clot said, “And here we are! We just left after 40 days … For us it was a real surprise. In our heads, we had walked into the cave 30 days ago.”
One of the participants even thought they had been in the cave for 23 days.
As you understand, they were following their biological clocks. This helped them to know when to go sleep and when to wake up. So, they counted days not in hours but in sleep cycles.
“It’s really interesting to observe how this group synchronises themselves,” said one of the member. He emphasized that working together on projects without deadlines was particularly challenging.
Ten members out of fifteen expressed a desire to remain in the cave a little longer. They said it would allow them to finish the project they started when being inside.
“Our future as humans on this planet will evolve. We must learn to better understand how our brains are capable of finding new solutions, whatever the situation,” said one of them.