RI Christmas Lectures 2007

Ri 2007 05 image
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Lecture 5 - Luck, Genes & Stupidity

So the human body is an amazing machine, equipped to take in fuel and oxygen, convert it into an energy currency, and spend this in cells throughout the body to keep us alive. We can survive severe shortages of oxygen, food and water, and cope with extreme heat and cold. We can run fast when we have to, and can ‘keep going’ for amazing distances.

But 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? To ‘being tough’? Or is there such a thing as the will to live?

Today, we’ll look at our genes- and how they make us different. How much of the way we are is ‘nature’ and how much ‘nurture’? And do whether they influence our chances of survival. Can they protect us from infections, or help us survive them? Allow us to run further and faster. Or even make us feel less (or more) pain?

Finally, we’ll talk to some amazing survivors, and find out how much of this survival was down to training and preparation, to being tough, to ‘will to live’, to their genes…or to good old-fashioned luck.



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