-->
Home Store Project Ideas Project Guide Ask An Expert Blog Careers Teachers Parents Students

Trapped Below Ground: The Importance of Circadian Rhythm

| 1 Comment


Nuts and Bolts:


The study of Circadian Rhythms is called chronobiology.

It's not about bugs! "Cicadas" are the insects that come back periodically—every 13 or 17 years in the case of some species. But the bugs (often called locusts) are not related to circadian rhythm.

The term "circadian" stems from the Latin "circa" (which means "around") and "diem" (which means "day").

Thirty-three workers were rescued recently after being trapped under ground when a mine collapsed in Chile in August. The workers were trapped 2,300 feet beneath the surface for 69 days—a very, very long time to be without natural light!

While engineers worked on a rescue solution, rescuers above ground were able to rig systems to get required staples to the miners: food, vitamins, reading material, a portable music player (that was shuttled up and down to be charged). The trapped group was even able to watch a football game projected onto a cave wall. What couldn't be passed down, however, was sunlight. While there were some portable light sources available, being without natural light for such a long time poses many potential health hazards because our bodies depend on an awareness of natural light to keep our "internal clock" regulated.

This internal clock is related to "circadian rhythm" which tells our bodies when to "do" certain things each day. At the most basic level, our bodies are trained to sleep when it's dark and be up and about in the light. Almost all living things, even microbes, show evidence of circadian rhythm, and this rhythm controls a huge number of physical, mental, and behavioral processes, changes, and fluctuations, including things like body temperature, bowel movements, sleep, and the ability to stabilize one's emotional mood.


Far-Reaching Implications

The trapped miners faced an extended period of circadian rhythm disruption, but this is an area of study that has impact for astronauts, airline pilots (who often fly across multiple time zones) and even workers who routinely work a night-shift, as well.
To begin exploring the presence and impact of circadian rhythms, take a look at these Science Buddies project ideas:


1 Comment

my friend sydney and i got our sciencefair project ideas off of here!!!!!!!!!!! and we got an A and made it to states and won 1st place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies and Autodesk for Student STEM Exploration


thumbnail
School and family science weekly spotlight: learn more about the science that helps solve crimes! Use fake blood and investigate how blood spatter changes depending on the height from which the blood was dropped.

thumbnail
An orange scrub brush gives a family science activity a boost of jack-o-lantern-inspired fun and leads to a great robotics exploration.

thumbnail
Environmental conservation and energy science collide in a proposed solar power project that promises greener energy but threatens to disrupt a major migratory path for birds. Students explore with big data science.

thumbnail
Think baseball is all about runs, outs, balls, and strikes? What about physics, biomechanics, and statistics? Explore the science of baseball!

thumbnail
We go DIY with molecular gastronomy and family science as we make our own popping boba using the Spherification Kit from the Science Buddies Store.

thumbnail
The current Ebola crisis in West Africa has already topped charts for all Ebola outbreaks in history. Medical biotechnology science projects let students gets hands-on with projects that parallel real-world research and development.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



You may print and distribute up to 200 copies of this document annually, at no charge, for personal and classroom educational use. When printing this document, you may NOT modify it in any way. For any other use, please contact Science Buddies.