RI Christmas Lectures 2007

Ri 2007-01
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Lecture 1 - Peak Performance

Life on Earth began 4 billion years ago, but humans appeared only 130,000 years ago. With such a long period in ‘research and development’, it isn’t surprising that the ‘human machine’ is so amazingly complex - far more complex than any state-of-the-art racing car.

But just like a petrol engine, humans use oxygen to burn fuels and release the energy which powers every function in every cell. So how do we get the oxygen from the air to the cell? This first programme will find out how this happens, even at the top of the world.

We shall look at the airways that carry the oxygen, and the rib-and-muscle bellows which drive air through them.

We shall look at the lung, how it passes the oxygen on to the blood, and the cells there which snatch and hold that oxygen. We shall find out how the heart pumps them around the body, and examine the blood vessels that carry them. 

Finally, we shall hear from mountaineers who have climbed Mt Everest, where there is three-times less oxygen than at sea level, and see what happens to their bodies when they struggle to stand at the very top of the world.

 



Lecture 1 - Peak Performance Humans use oxygen to burn fuels and release the energy which powers every function in every cell. This first programme will find out how this happens, even at the top of the world.

Lecture 2 - Completely Stuffed? What fuels does the body need? How do we get them from the dinner plate to the cell? And what other things are there in the food apart from fuel?

Lecture 3 - Grilled and Chilled Humans live in extraordinary places - from the middle of the Sahara desert to the frozen wastes of Alaska. So how can humans survive such extremes? And could you?

Lecture 4 - Fight, Flight and Fright When the shark is honing in, you must swim for your life. When the soldier faces enemy guns, he must run to survive. Or sometimes, stand and fight. How does the body increase that energy delivery?

Lecture 5 - Luck, Genes & Stupidity Are we all the same? Faced with the same perils, would we all cope just as well? And if not, is it down to luck? Or is there such a thing as the will to live?

Credits
for Five