This experiment, called Deep Time, provided thousands of measurements to assess the effect of removing measured time on people’s bodies, minds, and social interactions.
Insider spoke with Christian Clot, the team leader for this expedition. Here is what he told us about life in the cave.
Natural cycles were often longer than 24 hours
In the cave, all electronics had their clocks removed. There was, of course, no sunlight. This left people organizing their days by intuition.
They could complete tasks like taking scientific measurements, exploring and cleaning the cave, or cataloging insects during waking hours. The cave was mostly dark, apart from one living area that was kept illuminated.
People were told to sleep and eat whenever they felt like it. The only thing regulating the length of their day was their internal body clock and their interactions with others.
Under these conditions, the volunteers had widely different cycles governing their activities and sleep.
By the end of 40 days, most volunteers had completed only 30 cycles, Clot told Insider. Precise measurements are still being analyzed, but this suggests that most people ended up with “days” that were more like 30 hours long rather than 24.
One woman’s cycle was twice as long as normal, Clot told Insider. She only slept 23 times over the 40 days, which suggests that an average cycle was about 40 hours for her.
It was forbidden to wake people up
People slept in tents in the “quiet zone.” It was “absolutely forbidden to wake up someone else,” Clot said. There were no alarms or devices to tell them how long they had slept. They simply woke up when they felt like it.
“During the first week in the cave, it was really hard to accept the idea that when I wake up, I didn’t have to check my smartphone or my watch to see if I slept enough. I just have to listen to my body,” Clot said.
“It was like a liberation, you know. It was like: Wow, amazing. I just have to listen to me!”
At the beginning of the experiment, that meant that the volunteers were completely out of sync, Clot told Insider.
“People were awake around the clock,” he said.
However, by the end of the experiment, people had fallen into a rhythm and naturally started to wake up and go to sleep at times that worked for the group, Clot said.
“In an unconscious way, when people wanted to be together, they woke up at the same time,” Clot said.
Volunteers swallowed a capsule which sent back measurements of their temperature
Once swallowed, the pill stays in the body on average for 3 to 4 days, depending on the person’s physiology.
As it makes its way through the digestive tract, it sends temperature readings every minute, a spokesperson from the manufacturer, the French firm BodyCap, told Insider.
Because the body’s temperature changes during the day according to its internal clock, these measurements are useful to determine the effect of the experiment on the body.
The volunteers – seven women and eight men – also wore sensors to measure sleeping patterns, regularly took blood samples, monitored their brain waves, and tested their brain function by playing games with VR headsets.
Cameras were also constantly recording their interactions for later analysis.
“Thousands” of data points were collected during this experiment, Clot said. These are now being processed by 12 labs around the world, he said.
They had very little water to wash – and the cave was too humid to really bother
The team used water from an underground lake for drinking, cooking, and hygiene.
Getting the water was “a bit hard,” Clot said, so they used as little as they could.
Washing in the cave would not have been very pleasant anyway. The cave was cold – around 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit) – and humidity was at 100%.
They had bikes to generate electricity and tried to grow plants
Asked if humans could survive underground for longer periods of time, Clot said, “we had water. The only thing you need is food.”
“We tried to grow some vegetables. Some were growing nicely,” Clot said, although they didn’t have enough time to harvest them in the 40 days.
Standing bikes provided some exercise but were also hooked to a generator to produce electricity for computers while scientific measurements were being collected.
Everyone was shocked when the experiment ended
When it was time to leave, the volunteers were surprised. They thought they had much longer, with most guessing that they were around 30 days in rather than the full 40.
Clot told Insider that they had imagined a lot of possibilities for what would happen in the cave. But “absolutely not” that their perceptions would have been off by as much as ten days.
By the time the team on the surface came to tell them the experiment was over, many of the volunteers were not ready to leave the cave and had to adjust to the idea mentally, Clot told Insider.
Some loved it down there and want to go back
Returning to normal life was hard in some ways, Clot said.
In his case, it was challenging because he’s had to do a lot of interviews since emerging from the cave, he said.
“I sometimes think: Wow! It was so easy in the cave,” he told Insider.
At least three of the 15 volunteers would happily go back, he said. As for him, he would like to do it again, if only to repeat the experiment.
But before then, the team plans to test other extreme living conditions and will be going together to the Brazilian rainforest and Siberia, Clot said.
The video, published by Sky News, appears to shows a boat without a visible flag head toward another boat that’s flying the flag of Jersey, which is a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom. The vessels then briefly collide.
Two British gunboats dispatched by Boris Johnson to Jersey have arrived after around 80 French boats gathered there to demand greater access to the island’s fishing waters.
Jersey, which is a British crown dependency, sits in the English Channel less than 20 miles off the French coast.
The British naval boats, which are equipped with guns, were sent yesterday after France’s sea minister Annick Girardin threatened to cut off the power to Jersey.
She was angered that Jersey had issued post-Brexit licenses to French fishing boats which imposed restrictive conditions including the amount of time they could spend in Jersey waters, Reuters reported.
“Regarding Jersey, I remind you of the delivery of electricity along underwater cables … Even if it would be regrettable if we had to do it, we’ll do it if we have to,” Girardin told France’s National Assembly on Tuesday, per Reuters.
The Daily Mail reported that Johnson made the decision to deploy the gunboats after intelligence indicated that the flotilla of French boats would try and block all access to Jersey’s Saint Helier port.
A Downing Street spokesman said on Wednesday: “The Prime Minister underlined his unwavering support for Jersey. He said that any blockade would be completely unjustified.
“As a precautionary measure, the UK will be sending two offshore patrol vessels to monitor the situation. They agreed the UK and Jersey governments would continue to work closely on this issue.”
Labour’s shadow defense secretary John Healey said: “The threats on Jersey are completely unreasonable. The Navy’s experience in sensitive situations will help reassure residents and protect Britain’s broader national interests.
“The British government must now get round the table with French colleagues and authorities in Jersey and sort this issue out.”
Hold on to your vaccination cards: Americans who have been fully immunized could be allowed to travel to Europe this summer, the president of the European Commission recently told The New York Times.
While the European Union hasn’t yet announced the formal requirements to enter its 27 member nations, it’s likely that Americans will need government-issued vaccine certificates. For now, neither EU nor US officials have specified whether people will need to show the white vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other documentation.
Lisa Lee, a public-health expert at Virginia Tech, said European countries will probably have patchwork of different rules for US travelers.
“Some have said they’re only going to accept electronic [vaccine records] so it can be verified,” Lee told Insider. “Other people are afraid that the CDC cards are too prone to fraud and they won’t accept the paper cards.”
In an interview with Ouest France, French President Emmanuel Macron said foreign tourists could visit France with a “health pass” starting June 9. Macron didn’t expand on what that pass would look like, though. Spain’s tourism secretary, meanwhile, said this week that the country is prepared to let travelers back in in June – as long as visitors show proof they’ve been vaccinated, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or recently recovered from COVID-19. And UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested earlier this month that British people could start traveling internationally on May 17.
“One thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, told The Times, referring to the European Medicines Agency. The EMA has authorized all three vaccines used in the US: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
Already, a few European countries – including Greece and Iceland – are allowing visitors from the US. Their policies could offer a hint at what to expect from other nations moving forward.
The US still doesn’t recommend travel to Europe
The CDC currently recommends avoiding all international travel to European countries, with the exception of Iceland. (The agency says Americans can travel there for essential visits only.) Similarly, the US is denying entry to visitors from the EU or UK unless they’re US citizens.
The Biden administration hasn’t said whether it will remove these restrictions in the near future, but travel and aviation groups are pushing the US government to open its borders to more countries, with testing requirements in place.
For now, the US also requires fully vaccinated Americans to test negative before reentering the country.
Lee said this policy helps protect the population from highly transmissible coronavirus variants that are more prevalent in other countries and might evade protection from vaccines.
“These vaccines are incredibly effective, but they’re not 100% – and they’re certainly not 100% or as effective against strains that we don’t know about yet that might be developing through transmission, so it’s still a good time to be somewhat cautious,” she said.
Greece and Iceland are accepting CDC cards as proof of vaccination
As of April 19, Greece is welcoming US travelers with a few stipulations: Visitors are asked to fill out a locator form at least one day before entering or leaving the country. Americans must also provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated – a CDC card is sufficient – or present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their arrival.
US travelers don’t need to quarantine under this policy, a change that came with the new rule. Previously, Americans entering Greece had to isolate for a week. If a person tests positive upon arrival, however, they’ll be transported to a hotel, where Greek authorities will confirm the test results and ask them to stay inside for 10 days. After that, they can be released following a negative PCR test.
US travelers to Iceland can also avoid the nation’s mandatory quarantine by presenting a CDC card that shows they are fully vaccinated. Alternatively, a person can provide proof that they’ve had COVID-19 already – either through a positive PCR or antibody test result.
But those going to Iceland still need to take another COVID-19 test upon arrival, then wait at their accommodation until the results are back (which can take up to 24 hours). Hotels in Iceland may ask to see your CDC vaccination card as well.
Croatia, Georgia, Montenegro aren’t requiring US travelers to quarantine, either, if they show proof of vaccination.
Travel requirements aside, an international trip brings risks
Just because a country is accepting US travelers doesn’t mean a visit is low-risk. For Americans trying to decide whether to travel or where to go, Lee recommended that fully vaccinated people look at two key metrics: low levels of transmission and case numbers that are declining day over day.
“If you look at Portugal, for example, the incidence is a lot lower than Spain and they’re right next to each other,” Lee said.
On average, Spain is recording nearly 180 daily cases per 1 million people, while Portugal is recording around 45 daily cases per 1 million people. The CDC defines low transmission as fewer than 5 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over the prior 28 days, and moderate transmission as fewer than 50 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over 28 days.
If you’re looking to lower your risk of infection, choose less crowded locales where you’re unlikely to bump into people who haven’t been vaccinated. Opt out of large events like concerts or soccer matches, too.
“If you’re planning a trip to the countryside, that’s a very different calculus than if you’re planning a trip to the middle of a bustling city,” Lee said.
Of course, outbreaks can also change course quickly, so a country that looks safe now may have high levels of transmission in three months.
“Check the requirements frequently, right up until the departure date, as every country’s policies are going to be changing in response to the way the epidemic evolves,” Lee said.
The website Skyscanner offers real-time updates on countries’ travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Make sure to prepare the necessary documentation for each country you plan to visit.
“You don’t want to get from one place to another and discover, ‘Oh, whoops, they need this piece of paper or that piece of software and I don’t have that,'” Lee said.
When it comes to the world of luxury goods, perhaps no one is more successful than Bernard Arnault.
Arnault, the 72-year-old CEO of French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton, has built his fortune over the span of almost four decades, amassing a luxury-goods empire that includes some of the best-known names in fashion, jewelry, and alcohol, including Louis Vuitton, TAG Heuer, and Dom Perignon.
Along the way, Arnault has brought four of his five adult children into the fold, building a family-run conglomerate that has resulted in the world’s third-largest fortune.
Here’s how Arnault got his start and became one of the richest people in the world.
Marissa Perino contributed reporting. Taylor Nicole Rogers contributed to an earlier version of this story.
The 72-year-old French businessman is the chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton, known as LVMH. Arnault owns a 97.5% stake in Christian Dior, which controls 41.2% of LVMH.
Arnault comes from the northern French town of Roubaix – he studied engineering at one of France’s most prestigious schools, the École Polytechnique. After graduating, Arnault went to work for his father’s construction company, Ferret-Savinel.
In 1984, Arnault acquired an ailing company called Agache-Willot-Boussac, which owned brands like French department store Bon Marche and the fashion house Christian Dior. He renamed the firm Financiere Agache and initiated a turnaround, cutting costs and selling off some of its businesses.
In the late 1980s, Arnault said his goal was to run the world’s largest luxury company within the following decade. He then set his sights on LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton, spending $2.6 billion buying up shares in order to become the company’s largest shareholder, and its chairman and CEO by 1989.
She now reportedly lives with tech billionaire Xavier Niel and has one daughter. But Delphine is notoriously private about her personal life. “I’m quite discreet,” she told the Financial Times in a rare 2014 interview. “I think I’d rather focus on my work.”
He appears to be friends with Evan Spiegel, the chief executive of Snap, Snapchat’s parent company. Spiegel told The New York Times that Alexandre is “a really creative guy” and that “he’s constantly thinking about the brand and how to express that.”
Alexandre’s younger brother, Frederic, also has a role at LVMH. He joined the conglomerate as the strategy and digital director at Swiss luxury watch brand TAG Heuer, LVMH’s largest watch brand, in 2018. Last June, Frederic became TAG Heuer’s CEO.
Frederic graduated from his father’s alma mater, École Polytechnique in Paris, and interned at Facebook and consulting firm McKinsey before joining LVMH as the temporary head of connected technologies at TAG Heuer in 2017.
Arnault has rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s influential figures, in the fashion world and otherwise. In 2017, he met President Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City right before Trump’s inauguration to discuss expanding LVMH factories in the US.
He was photographed at parties with Lady Diana, Princess of Wales.
Source: Getty Images
Arnault was reportedly friends with Apple founder Steve Jobs, who once said to Arnault: “You know Bernard, I don’t know if in 50 years my iPhone will still be a success but I can tell you, I’m sure everybody will still drink your Dom Pérignon.”
Arnault considered legendary late designer and Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld a good friend. “The death of this dear friend deeply saddens me, my wife and my children,” Arnault said in a statement upon Lagerfeld’s death. “We loved and admired him deeply. Fashion and culture has lost a great inspiration.”
Arnault is getting richer at an astonishing rate. In January 2019, he made $4.3 billion in a single day after LVMH shares surged 6.9%. And just 16 months later, on June 19, Arnault again made news when he became the third person in the world to reach a $100 billion net worth.
In April 2019, LVMH released a statement on behalf on the Arnault family, pledging 200 million euros, or about $218.8 million, to help rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was damaged in a 2019 fire.
The coronavirus pandemic knocked Arnault down the Billionaires List. By May 2020, pandemic-related shut-downs sank LVMH’s stock more than 17% from where it was at the start of 2020, sending Arnault’s personal net worth down more than $30 billion.
In November 2020, LVMH completed its nearly $16 billion acquisition of jeweler Tiffany & Co., a history-making deal in the luxury sector. The contentious deal came after multiple lawsuits, a public war of words, and a $400 million discount.
However, LVMH appears to be bouncing back in 2021: Revenue was up 32% in the first quarter compared to the same time last year. The company said it saw strong sales in fashion and leather goods in the beginning of the year, as well as an uptick in alcohol sales in the first quarter, particularly Champagne.
With an estimated worth of $150 billion, Arnault is currently the world’s third-richest person, surpassed only by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. This week, he briefly leapfrogged Musk to become the world’s second-richest person.
Fifteen volunteers have emerged from a cave in the southwest of France after spending 40 days without clocks, phones, or sunlight for a human isolation experiment.
The group of eight men and seven women lived in the Lombrives cave as part of a $1.4 million project called Deep Time, which set out to explore the limits of human adaptability to isolation. The project, led by the Human Adaption Institute, ended on Saturday after 40 days.
Social media footage from the day shows the smiling volunteers emerging from the cave to a round of applause while wearing special sunglasses to protect their eyes after so long in the dark.
During their time in the cave, the volunteers slept in tents and made their own electricity with a pedal bike since there was no natural light. They also drew water from a well 146 ft below the earth.
Since there was no sunlight, the team had to follow their biological clocks to know when to sleep, eat, or do daily tasks.
To no one’s surprise, they quickly lost their sense of time.
Project director Christian Clot, who was also part of the group, told reporters Saturday: “And here we are! We just left after 40 days … For us, it was a real surprise,” according to the Guardian.
One volunteer said they thought he had been underground for 23 days.
The group had no communication with the outside world and was not able to use phones or other electronic devices.
One volunteer, math teacher Johan Francois, said he ran 6-mile circles in the cave to stay fit. He told reporters he had “visceral urges” to leave the cave, according to the BBC.
But other volunteers felt differently, with two-thirds saying they wanted to stay in the cave for longer.
“For once in our lives, it was as if we could press pause,” Marina Lançon, one of seven women to take part in the experiment, said, according to the Guardian. “For once in our lives, we had time and could stop to live and do our tasks. It was great.”
However, Lançon did admit to feeling happy to be outdoors and hear birdsong again.
French and Swiss scientists at the Human Adaption Institute monitored the volunteers closely during their time in the cave. They would regularly check the team’s sleeping patterns, social interactions, and cognitive functions via sensors.
The volunteers’ brain activity was also collected before and after they entered the cave.
The scientists behind the project say it will help them understand how people can adapt to extreme living conditions and being in complete isolation.
“Our future as humans on this planet will evolve,” Clot said after emerging from the cave. “We must learn to better understand how our brains are capable of finding new solutions, whatever the situation.”
A region of France has been beset by a version of the coronavirus that can hide from standard tests.
The French ministry of health and social affairs announced Monday that among a cluster of 79 COVID-19 cases in Brittany, eight patients were infected with the new variant, but several of them tested negative.
Despite those negative tests, the patients showed typical COVID-19 symptoms.
The new variant does not yet have a alphanumeric designation. But it’s not the first variant that appears able to evade testing. Finnish researchers announced last month that they had identified a strain named Fin-796H with a mutation that made it difficult to detect with some nasal-swab tests, too.
An inability to accurately diagnose infected people could make it harder to curtail the virus’s spread at a time when cases across Europe are already spiking.
Confirming infections with the new variant is tricky
The standard molecular lab tests – known as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests – hunt for an infection in a swab from a patient’s nose, looking for the coronavirus’s genetic code.
But according to the French Health Directorate, genetic sequencing revealed that the variant found in Brittany has several mutations on its spike protein that help it evade detection by these diagnostic tests.
Health officials in Brittany eventually confirmed some of the cases caused by the new variant by either testing the patients’ blood for antibodies or collecting samples of phlegm the patients coughed up from inside their lungs and running those through a RT-PCR test.
But neither of those methods are the typical COVID-19 tests, which suggests the new variant could be circulating undetected in France and possibly beyond.
However, one European diagnostics company, the Novacyt Group, announced Thursday that its PCR tests can successfully detect the new variant.
The variant doesn’t appear to be deadlier or more infectious
All eight of the French patients infected with the new variant died of the virus, according to local outlet LaDepeche, but local health officials said that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more deadly than other strains.
There is no evidence yet that the strain is more transmissible than other versions of the virus. More studies are still needed to figure out whether it can evade vaccines or antibodies from prior coronavirus infections, the French health ministry said in a release.
The variant’s genetic profile shows it doesn’t share any key mutations with B.1.351 and P.1 – the variants first found in South Africa and Brazil, respectively – which are more contagious and can partially evade vaccines.
News of the variant in Brittany came amid France’s third peak of infections.
The average number of daily coronavirus cases there has doubled since mid-December, jumping from less than 15,000 to a near record-high of more than 38,000 on Wednesday. The increase prompted Prime Minister Jean Castex to announce new lockdowns for Paris and the surrounding Ile-de-France region on Thursday.
France has been under a nationwide curfew between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. for the last two months.
France is working to fix the disastrous image of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country, after many in the country proved reluctant to take it.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the French health ministry said at a press conference that “we need to get into a rehabilitation dynamic for this vaccine,” making explicit a problem that had existed for weeks.
The country is relying on the AstraZeneca shot to accelerate its sluggish vaccination campaign. As of February 23, France had distributed about 3.8 millions doses of vaccines.
According to Our World in Data, that makes France 11th worldwide, behind the UK, US, Brazil, and Turkey.
From Thursday, 29,000 family doctors will be allowed to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine in their office, in the hope of speeding up the rollout.
Speaking on Wednesday to French trade publication Le Quotidien du Medecin, Prof. Alain Fischer, France’s vaccine strategy lead, emphasized that the vaccine is “not inferior” to jabs like those made by Pfizer and Moderna.
He said he was waiting for the data to be reviewed by other scientists before deciding whether to roll it out to over-65s as well.
Véran, who is 40, demonstrated his confidence in the vaccine by getting the shot himself on February 8.
France has been contending with resistance from some medical personnel to take the AstraZeneca jab.
Earlier this month, the UFLM, a group representing medical personnel, asked for medical personnel to receive only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, for fear of the AstraZeneca vaccine having poorer performance.
As some of the first French healthcare workers were vaccinated, some reported strong flu-like side effects and called in sick from work. This prompted the country to stagger its vaccine roll out in health workers.
Fischer, the French government vaccine lead, has previously been dismissive of the idea that these side effects were concerning. He criticized the “dramatization” of the side effects while speaking to radio broadcaster Europe 1, Le Point reported on February 18.
He said that the side effects are mostly seen in younger populations, and that “barely anything” happens in people over 50.
France’s vaccination campaign started off slowly, and faced resistance from the start. It is still far behind other countries, with around 3.8 millions doses of vaccines delivered as of February 23. That is just over half the 7.5 million doses delivered in Israel and 17 times fewer than the over 66.4 million doses delivered in the US, according to Our World in Data.
France is not the only country struggling with mistrust of the AstraZeneca jab, with people turning down the vaccine, not showing up to appointments, and gaming the system being seen across Europe and the UK, Insider reported this week.
Thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines have been stockpiling in Germany as demand is low.