Z-TIME:THE ART AND SCIENCE OF CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS
THE ART AND SCIENCE OF CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS
In November 2020, we opened our exhibition Z-Time at Medical Museion, which sadly closed a month later due to COVID-19. This page presents a web exhibition of Z-Time which has expanded and deepened from the original display – bringing in new collaborators and new mediums to explore the ways that time is made and modified in chronobiological research. We hope you stay to explore this strange and curious world of circadian rhythms.
You are made of time. Literally. Our bodies have evolved over thousands of years to keep time with the rising and setting of the sun. Strong environmental cues, called zeitgebers, tune our body clocks to the world around us. Disrupting these circadian rhythms (døgnrytmer) can have a profound effect on our health.
Chronobiologists have the difficult task of trying to study this embodied time. In the laboratory they use strange and sometimes surreal techniques, like working by bright red light. They have even made their own system for recording time in the lab, called Zeitgeber Time or Z-Time.
Can you freeze time? Can you control how organisms perceive day and night? Can we ever look at time objectively given that we are always inside it?
Art is one way to make sense of these complex questions. This web exhibition presents an artistic look at the experiences of scientists who study time. Created by artist Isabella Martin, in collaboration with Medical Museion researchers and scientists at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR), it explores the curious ways that scientists make and modify time. The final version will be displayed as a part of the major exhibition The World Is In You at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in late 2021 (click here to read more).
Use the tabs at the top of these pages to explore the online exhibition.
Zeitgeber Time – The term zeitgeber was coined by German scientists in the 1960s and means time giver. A zeitgeber is a strong environmental cue which tells our brains what time it is. For humans, this is typically the sun but could also be the light from your phone, or even eating a meal. In the laboratory, scientists use light and food to manipulate the sense of time in cells and animal models. Scientists often track time in experiments using zeitgeber time (ZT), the hours since the last zeitgeber, rather than clock time.
Circadian Rhythms – Circadian comes from a Latin phrase meaning roughly a day [circa diem]. Circadian rhythms are the biological rhythms of our bodies which occur over a 24-hour period. These can be behavioural, like cycles of eating and sleeping, or smaller hormonal and biochemical changes, like changes in body temperature or cortisol production. Disrupting our natural daily rhythms can have a profound effect on our health. Scientists called chronobiologists are trying to better understand these rhythms.
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