This man spent months alone underground – and it warped his thoughts

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Michel Siffre’s extraordinary self-experiments in a cave with no mild would by no means be allowed now – however revealed unusual truths about how we understand time

Michel Siffre lived underground thrice, right here in France in 2000

Philippe Desmazes/Getty

IN JULY 1962, Michel Siffre took off his watch and descended into the abyss of Scarasson within the French Alps. There, in a cave 130 metres beneath the floor, he arrange camp subsequent to a glacier. With a torch as his solely mild supply, and disadvantaged of all reminders of the passage of time, he lived underground, alone, for 63 days.

When he emerged, carrying goggles to guard his eyes from the solar, the world’s press was ready. Siffre was a geologist, however what he had initially deliberate as an expedition to review the glacier had turn out to be well-known as one thing fully totally different: the primary research of the human response to residing with no details about time. Siffre was the primary to point out that our physique might need its personal clock. Since then, chronobiology has turn out to be a massively essential subject of analysis.

Now almost 80, Siffre lives alone in a small condo in Good. It’s so full of souvenirs, together with big fossil ammonites, that it resembles a cave itself. A ball of vitality regardless of his age, he apologises for the dysfunction, though all the things right here, from the framed images of his exploits to climbing tools held on the wall, demonstrates how this vitality has been a defining characteristic of his life.

As he reveals me a tube of the electrode paste used on Apollo missions, he describes how the area race was his inspiration. Yuri Gagarin had simply turn out to be the primary man in area and the US and USSR needed to know what impact …

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