Lecture 1 – Peak performance
Life on Earth may have begun 4 billion years ago, but humans appeared only 130,000 years from the present day. With such a long period of development, the human body has been shaped into an amazingly complex piece of biological machinery.
In the first lecture of his series, Dr Hugh Montgomery (now Professor) explores how the human body uses oxygen to burn fuels and release energy to power the function of its cells. He looks at how the respiratory system has adapted to draw air in from the atmosphere and how the lungs operate to move oxygen into the blood.
He uncovers how our heart works to deliver a continuous supply of oxygenated blood to all the cells in the body and, more importantly, reveals how the cells utilise this oxygen to release the energy they require.
Finally, Hugh hears from mountaineers who have climbed Mount Everest, where there is three times less oxygen than at sea level, and finds out what happens to their bodies when they stand at the very top of the world.
About the 2007 CHRISTMAS LECTURES
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?
NB: We do not currently have a version of Lecture 1 available due to technical issues.