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Peak performance

Hugh Montgomery, skydiver, high-altitude mountaineer, intensive care doctor and the 2007 RI Christmas lecturer, explores the amazingly complex machine that keeps us going: the human body.

Join Hugh Montgomery, skydiver, high-altitude mountaineer, intensive care doctor for this repeat of one the 2007 Christmas Lectures, Back from the brink: the science of survival.

Life on Earth may have begun 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 body 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 each function in every cell. So how do we get the oxygen from the air to the cell? In this lecture we'll find out how this happens, even at the top of the world.

We'll 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 and how it passes the oxygen on to the blood, and the cells there which snatch and hold that oxygen. And we'll find out how the heart pumps these cells around the body, and examine the blood vessels that carry them.

Finally, we'll hear from mountaineers who have climbed Mount 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.


Dr Hugh Montgomery | talks


Date and Time:

11 June 2008 at 6:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Royal Institution
21 Albemarle Street
020 7409 2992

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Tickets cost £8, £6 concessions and £4 for RI Members

Available from:

Book tickets at www.rigb.org or call 020 7409 2992.

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