French “cave dwellers” returned after forty days of darkness

The fifteen French who have lived in voluntary isolation for forty days and nights in a dark, damp cave have come out again today. The group of eight men and seven women participated in a scientific experiment in the French Pyrenees.

In conversation with journalists, the participants indicated that they were not tired, but felt the cold. The group lived in the famous Cave of Lombrives, without any sense of time. In the cave came no sunlight and there were no bells. The temperature was by default 10 degrees, with a humidity of 100 percent.

The temporary cave dwellers had no contact with the outside world. Because the group often lived in darkness during the experiment, the cave dwellers had to wear special glasses to protect their eyes.

So the participants came out of the cave again:

The reason for the experiment? According to scientists from the Human Adaption Institute, who cost 1.2 million euros so called Deep Time project, it helps better understand how people adapt to drastic changes in living conditions and environments.

Wrong estimate

Scientists followed the sleep patterns, social interactions and behavioral reactions of the 15-headed group through sensors. One of the sensors was a small thermometer in a capsule that the participants had to swallow like a pill. That capsule measured the body temperature and sent data back to a computer until it naturally left the body again.

The team members relied on their biological clock to know when to eat, sleep or wake up. They counted their days not in hours but in sleep cycles. When the scientists entered the cave yesterday for the first time since the beginning of the project, it turned out that many of the people in the research group had misjudged the time elapsed. They thought they had a week to 10 days left.