If you do not take into account the depths of the sea, then the most difficult to inhabit, and at the same time, a serene place on Earth is Antarctica. Over the past half century, people have learned not only to survive there, but also to stay for the winter in conditions where the simplest, everyday actions are associated with mortal risk. It is difficult and at the same time very interesting - scientists from the University of Manchester have discovered an unusual protective mechanism for polar explorers.
People are social creatures, it is difficult for us without society, therefore a group of polar explorers isolated from civilization for six months or more is an excellent object for research. The study is based on the data of psychometric surveys of members of the Franco-Italian base "Concordia". And the first thing it turned out was that the polar explorers did not have time for worries, doubts and self-digging, because in the harshest conditions of the Antarctic winter, each person's working day is scheduled almost by the minute.
Scientists expected to see an extreme form of occupational therapy, when the willingness to quickly solve problems is supported by constant small successes. After all, even chopping up ice and heating water in 60-degree frost is a small feat that you can be proud of. But instead they saw the rapid extinction of all emotions, aspirations and desires among the polar explorers, people fell into a kind of psychological hibernation. In extreme cases, this took the form of emotional hibernation, suspended animation, when a person became like a robot.
The reasons lie on the surface - the polar explorers are in a constant, but obviously losing battle with the elements. In the end, their task is not reduced to victory, but to survival until the moment when summer comes and living conditions will inevitably improve. The shift will come, the supplies will be brought, the weather will improve and everything will be fine - so why waste energy now? At the same time, they maintain clarity of thinking and perform not only work at the station, but also planned scientific research.
This discovery makes us look differently at the issues of organizing autonomous expeditions in general. For example, how to properly organize psychological relief for future colonists of the Moon and Mars, who are likely to find themselves in similar conditions? Or, conversely, can you fully rely on our instincts to help a person survive under the most severe stress?