Back from the brink

In his series of CHRISTMAS LECTURES from 2007, geneticist Hugh Montgomery leads an exploration of human endurance, and the very thin line between life and death.

About this series

When a huge meteorite hit the Earth 65 million years ago, it wiped out the dinosaurs whilst our ancestors survived. Since then our planet has experienced several similar episodes of mass extinction and each time, our ancestors have lived on. We have evolved to withstand the most extreme environments, but what determines our survival?

The science of survival

In his series of five lectures from 2007, geneticist Dr Hugh Montgomery leads an exploration of human endurance, and the very thin line between life and death.

Hugh reveals how the body is equipped to perform exercise, adjust to high altitudes, and endure hot and cold climes. Discover how the human body responds when faced with peril, and why some people take flight, whilst others stay and fight. Plus, find out how our bodies deliver the energy we need to react, and what happens to our vital organs when the adrenaline kicks in.

A question of fate?

Along the way, Hugh speaks to real-life survivors who have fought some of the world’s most extreme conditions. From starvation to dehydration, and severe cold to blazing heat, their extraordinary tales remind us of the fragility of human life and the astonishing endurance of the human body.

Why do some people live and some people die in perilous situations? Does our fate boil down to good old-fashioned luck, or does it lie deeper in our genes? And just how much influence does our environment have over our chances for survival?

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