On July 16, 1962, French geologist Michel Siffre entered a darkened cave, where he planned to remain for two months.
Tracking the days according to his sleep patterns (one night’s sleep equals one day), he believed his underground stay was ending on Aug. 20. Instead, when he emerged, it was Sept. 14 — 25 days later.
The new book “Why Time Flies” by New Yorker writer Alan Burdick explores our perception of time. Siffre spent extended periods underground three times, the last in his 60s, and showed how skewed our brain’s sense of time is without the stimuli of natural light.
“Like many scientists, Siffre wondered how a human would manage in such places, isolated from other people and from the sun,” Burdick writes.
Initially planning just a two-week stay, Siffre expanded it to two months, during which, he later said, he planned to live “like an animal, in the dark, without knowing the time.”