They lived 40 days in a cave – to study time

A group of volunteers have spent 40 days in a cave in southwestern France to see how the lack of clocks, daylight and communication with the outside world affected their perception of time.

The 15 participants left their voluntary isolation in Lombrives Cave on Saturday, where the temperature was around ten degrees and the humidity was one hundred percent. Wearing special glasses that would protect their eyes from daylight, they were greeted with applause when they came out.

– It was like pressing pause, said Marina Lançon, one of the seven women who participated in the experiment.

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The purpose of the study, which is part of the research project Deep Time, was to see how people react to losing the feeling of time and space, reports the BBC. Participants followed their biological clock to know when to get up, go to bed and eat. According to research leader Christian Clot, time seemed to go much slower in the cave.

Primitive conditions in the cave

Conditions were primitive and the participants lived in tents, fetched water from an underground well and generated electricity using a bicycle. Their sleep patterns, body temperature and activity were monitored using sensors.

The researchers say the project will help them understand how people can adapt to extreme living conditions. It has become particularly relevant during the corona pandemic as millions of people have been forced to isolate themselves.

– Our future as humans on this planet will evolve. We must learn to better understand how our brains are capable of finding new solutions, regardless of what the situation looks like, says Christian Clot.


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