Saturday, September 18, 2021

French volunteers go for ‘experimental’ lockdown in cave for 6 weeks

A year after France entered uncharted territory with its first coronavirus lockdown, a small group of volunteers has embarked on a more extreme confinement: nearly six weeks underground, with no notion of time, to study the effects of acute isolation.

Since Sunday night, 15 men and women are living in the vast Lombrives cave in the Pyrenees mountains south of Toulouse for an experiment dubbed “Deep Time,” led by the French-Swiss explorer Christian Clot.

For 40 days their home is a cavernous complex below the Earth’s surface, deprived of phones, watches or natural light. But they do have their own tents for a minimum of privacy.

“Three separate living spaces have been set up: one for sleeping, one for living, and one for carrying out topography studies, in particular for fauna and flora,” Clot told journalists a few hours before entering the cave.

The main subject of study, however, will be the seven men and seven women, aged 27 to 50, as well as Clot, who must adapt to a constant temperature of 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit) and 95 percent humidity.

MUST READ  Stay-at-home orders for regional NSW for one week

They have been fitted out with sensors to allow monitoring by around a dozen scientists hoping to learn how humans respond without the usual spatio-temporal frames of reference.

“This experiment is the first of its kind,” said Etienne Koechlin, director of the cognitive neurosciences department at the Ecole Normale Superieur in Paris, who is part of the monitoring team.

“Until now, these types of missions aimed to study the body’s physiological rhythms, but never the impact of this type of disconnection from time on a human being’s cognitive and emotional functions,” he said.

‘Not easy’

The volunteers, who are not receiving any compensation, are from all across France and include a jeweller, an anaesthesiologist, a security guard and a steeplejack.

Four tons of provisions and other equipment have been loaded into the cave so that the group can live in complete autonomy — water will come from a well on site, and a bike-powered generator will provide electricity.

MUST READ  Warning for Covid lockdown rule-breakers, as hundreds caught breaking rules
MUST READ  Curfew in Minneapolis after police shoot at black man; protests flare up

The bulk of the financing for the 1.2 million euro ($1.4 million) project came from Clot’s Human Adaptation Institute, with the help of some private and public partnerships.

Arnaud Burel, a 29-year-old biologist, said he signed up “to experience this life removed from time, something that’s impossible to do on the outside with our computers and cellphones that are constantly reminding us of our appointments and obligations.”

“Forty days in your life, it’s just a drop in the ocean, isn’t it?” he said.

He nonetheless admitted that being cooped up with a small group might prove difficult.

“It’s not easy to live with 14 people you don’t know, in a closed space — communication is going to be the key,” he predicted.

Fortunately, the volunteers can leave at any time if the experience proves too much.

Latest news

Stay-at-home orders for Hilltops and Glen Innes LGAs

Stay-at-home orders will be introduced for the Hilltops and Glen Innes Local Government Areas (LGAs) from 6pm today (Friday) for seven days due to...

Hayden Quinn’s food show to showcase Western Sydney

Western Sydney’s diverse food and culture, outstanding business owners and natural beauty will star in two upcoming episodes of Taste of Australia with Hayden Quinn on...

T-Series & Reliance Entertainment to produce over 10 films together

In one of the Indian film industry’s biggest collaborations, T-Series & Reliance Entertainment have joined hands to produce more than 10 films together across...

Free health insurance cover for 15 lakh Punjab families left out of govt schemes

Fulfilling his government’s universal healthcare poll promise, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday announced free insurance cover for the 15 lakh families...

Related news

Hayden Quinn’s food show to showcase Western Sydney

Western Sydney’s diverse food and culture, outstanding business owners and natural beauty will star in two upcoming episodes of Taste of Australia with Hayden Quinn on...

T-Series & Reliance Entertainment to produce over 10 films together

In one of the Indian film industry’s biggest collaborations, T-Series & Reliance Entertainment have joined hands to produce more than 10 films together across...

Free health insurance cover for 15 lakh Punjab families left out of govt schemes

Fulfilling his government’s universal healthcare poll promise, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday announced free insurance cover for the 15 lakh families...

READ Why Virak Kohli announced stepping down as T20 Captain

India captain Virat Kohli has announced that he will be stepping down as the captain of the T20 team after the T20 World Cup...

Prince Philip’s Will to remain private for 90 years: London High Court

The will of Prince Philip, the late husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, will be sealed and remain private for at least 90 years to...

Hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer as big as ‘size of Antarctica’: Scientists

Scientists say the hole in the Earth's protective ozone layer over the Southern Hemisphere is larger than usual this year and already surpasses the...

Construction workers block Melbourne streets over tea room restrictions

Dozens of construction workers have blocked off major roads in Melbourne in protest of the new Covid restrictions placed on tea rooms. Workers took plastic...