Lecture 4 – Fight, flight, and fright

When confronted by a shark, you must swim for your life, but when a soldier comes face to face with his enemy, he can choose to stand and fight. Both situations demand a huge amount of physical work. In his fourth lecture, Dr Hugh Montgomery explains how our bodies deliver all of that energy, all of a sudden.

In an exploration of the incredible capabilities of the human body, discover what happens to our heart, lungs and blood vessels when our adrenaline levels begin to rise. How is the energy expelled and where does it go?

Our muscles are capable of extraordinary feats of power, too. With the help of a human filament machine, Hugh reveals how the fibres in our skeletal muscles allow them to contract before making two unlucky athletes exercise to exhaustion to demonstrate how speed and stamina are critical when it comes to endurance.

We learn how our brain responds to danger and how the speed of our reactions can be a matter of life or death. Plus, Hugh speaks to Royal Marines Commando Major Phil Ashby, who fought starvation, dehydration and a machete-armed mob in his escape from a warring Sierra Leone. 


Being human


© The Royal Institution




Hugh Montgomery



All lectures in the series