15 People Voluntarily Spent 40 Days In A Cave With No Phones Or Clocks And Most Want To Go Back In

by : Emily Brown on : 01 May 2021 17:06
15 People Voluntarily Spent 40 Days In A Cave With No Phones Or Clocks And Most Want To Go Back InChristian Clot/Twitter

Fifteen people have emerged from a cave in France after spending six weeks with no phones, watches or natural light as part of a study investigating the effects of extreme isolation. 

The ‘Deep Time’ study saw eight men and seven women aged 27 to 50 set up residence in the Lombrives cave in the Pyrenees mountains south of Toulouse, which has a constant temperature of 12°C and a humidity of 95%.


Having lost all concept of time, many of the participants believed they still had at least another week of the experiment left when the scientists conducting the study came to tell them it had come to an end on Saturday, April 24.

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The group had no contact with the outside world during their time in the cave, meaning they received no updates about the coronavirus pandemic or news from friends or family while there. They had to generate their own electricity with a pedal bike, and draw water from a well 45m (146ft) below the earth.

However, despite the isolated nature of the experiment, Benoit Mauvieux, a chronobiologist involved in the research, said two-thirds of the participants expressed a desire to remain underground for even more time so they could finish group projects started during the study, Sky News reports.


The group were tasked with attempting to organise activities by relying on their body clocks and sleep cycles, though Christian Clot, a French-Swiss explorer who directed the project, said time seemed to pass more slowly in the cave.

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Another volunteer told BBC News the experiment ‘was like pressing pause’ on life.

Scientists at the Human Adaption Institute, which led the experiment, said it will help them better understand how people adapt to drastic changes in living conditions and environments.


Clot commented:

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.

In order to determine the impacts of the study, researchers will compare brain activity and cognitive function data gathered from the volunteers both before and after their time in the cave.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, experiment, France, Now


BBC News and 1 other
  1. BBC News

    Deep Time study: French volunteers leave cave after 40 days in isolation

  2. Sky News

    Fifteen people leave cave after 40 days with no phones or contact with friends and family - and most want to go back