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

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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 3 times, 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 under 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, sporting 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 check the glacier had change into well-known as one thing utterly completely different: the primary research of the human response to dwelling with no details about time. Siffre was the primary to indicate that our physique might need its personal clock. Since then, chronobiology has change into a massively vital subject of analysis.

Now almost 80, Siffre lives alone in a small house in Good. It’s so filled with souvenirs, together with big fossil ammonites, that it resembles a cave itself. A ball of power regardless of his age, he apologises for the dysfunction, though every little thing right here, from the framed pictures of his exploits to climbing tools held on the wall, demonstrates how this power 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 house race was his inspiration. Yuri Gagarin had simply change into the primary man in house and the US and USSR wished to know what impact …

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