In 1938, professor Nathaniel Kleitman, and research assistant Bruce Richardson, from the University of Chicago descended deep into the darkest parts of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world.
Armed with two makeshift beds, food and water for six weeks, and a variety of scientific instruments, the pair set out to understand if the rise and fall of the sun were needed to maintain the wake-sleep cycle.
The pair eventually spent 32-days in complete darkness. The legs of the beds plonked into buckets of water to prevent critters from joining them for a little nap.
The instruments they took into the cave measured body temperature and waking/sleeping rhythms, and over time they revealed that in the absence of natural light their biological systems of sleep and wakefulness, together with body temperature fluctuations, were not dependant on an external source.
Homo Sapiens generate an endogenous circadian rhythm from within, and not from the apparent external influence of the big yellow thing in the sky.
A fact that may come in handy for Rich Alati.
It’s been a while since the poker world had a mad prop bet. We haven’t suffered an amputation. Nobody has been forced to drink a gallon of vinegar. And the only roasted nuts have been of the chestnut variety. Step forward, high stakes live cash grinders, Rory Young and Rich Alati.
According to PokerNews, Young and Alati met while waiting for a seat in their regular high stakes cash game at Bellagio. Rather than twiddle their thumbs, the pair decided to play heads-up, at which time, Young suggested a prop bet where the taker would spend 30-days living in a bathroom in complete darkness, absent of any human contact or electronic gadgetry.
“I can do that,” said Alati.
The dare was on.
The pair agreed upon an even money $100,000 prop bet. $5,000 from each person’s wallet ended up in escrow. Young found a bathroom, made some structural changes, so there was a little entrance for someone to give Alati food and water every six days, and the bet was on.
It’s one of the most challenging prop bets in poker history, so much so, the pair had legal papers drawn absolving each of them of responsibility should anything happen to Alati.
And with good reason.
Donald Hebb and the BBC
In the 1950s, Canadian psychologist and professor Donald Hebb terminated deprivation experiments after subjects complained of visual and auditory hallucinations. Nobody lasted a week, and most people bailed after two days.
“The very identity of my patients began to disintegrate after only two days,” said Hebb.
Ten years ago, six volunteers agreed to spend 48-hours in a former nuclear bunker in Hertfordshire, UK, where professor Ian Robbins, Head of Trauma Psychology, at St. George’s Hospital wanted to recreate Hebb’s controversial experiments over 48 hours.
The results were the same. The subjects suffering from intense paranoia, anxiety, decreased mental functioning and hallucinations involving piles of oyster shells, fighter planes, and the room itself, taking off.
Will Alati do it?
The folks at 2+2 don’t think so. A poll of 229 people revealed 77% give Alati Bob Hope of success.
Alati does have the experience of spending time at a silent meditation retreat but armed with only his yoga mat, in complete darkness for 30-days, this is different gravy.
The poker world is divided on the prop bet with some supporting it, while others think it’s dangerous not to have a doctor supervising Alati’s ordeal.
Young is nonplussed.
“If it’s two consenting adults where it doesn’t hurt a third party, why does anyone have any issue?” he asked. “I could see if one of the parties wasn’t stable enough to make a coherent decision themselves, but that’s not the case. I would make the bet again.”
We will keep you updated on progress.