No Outside Link : Time Flies for Isolation Researcher

From Associated Press

An isolation researcher believes that she has two months to go in her underground hideaway when in fact there is only one week until she will see her first daylight since mid-January.

Stefania Follini, a 27-year-old interior decorator from Italy, has been in a two-room, 200-square-foot Plexiglas house under the hills west of Carlsbad since Jan. 13, without sunlight or other ways of measuring time.

The only sounds she hears are those of her own voice, her guitar or an occasional buzzer sounded by researchers in a computer-equipped trailer on the surface, 50 feet above her.

For about four months, computer terminals have been Follini's only mode of communication as she simulates what it might be like for space travelers isolated for extended periods.

Computer Messages

A team of researchers monitors her with three video cameras and microphones, and they type in occasional messages to her computer.

They also track her temperature, heart rate and blood pressure and test her blood composition for any hormonal and other chemical changes.

Questioned on May 4, Follini said she thought that it was March 7. Then researcher Andrea Galvagno asked her to guess how far off her estimate was.

She guessed she might be two weeks off.

Asked if she meant March 21, she replied in Italian on her keyboard, "About, but I'll celebrate spring a little later."

Galvagno said Follini will emerge from the cave May 23 but will not be told until the afternoon of May 22.

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