“The Amazing Human Body”
Premieres Wednesday, September 19 from 9 to 11 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)
The human body is the most sophisticated organism on Earth. It is a scientific marvel, yet much about it remains a mystery. The Amazing Human Body, a three-part series, uses cutting-edge graphics and captivating case studies to explore the internal mechanics of the body in vivid detail, revealing the surprisingly beautiful biological processes that keep humans alive. How does the brain communicate with the body in order to learn new skills? What is the connection between a teenager’s craving for fatty foods and sudden growth spurts? And how does cell regeneration allow an octogenarian to compete in a grueling triathlon and live to tell the tale? In this series, discover the ingenious ways the body develops, adapts and endures.
Case studies from across the globe showcase the dazzling secret science of the human body. A child prodigy in Phoenix demonstrates the brain’s ability to prioritize mental development over physical growth, a chilling dip in an icy lake reveals how shivering might just save our lives and low-level torture in a London laboratory highlights the way bodies block pain. Witness the fascinating and finely tuned systems that keep bodies moving – and the scientists guessing.
Episode One – “Grow”
This episode tells the story of extraordinary human growth. The journey through life involves the most remarkable physical change on the planet – from a single cell to an incredible walking, talking sentient being of 37 trillion cells, in a process of growth that lasts an entire lifetime. Adults may think they have stopped growing, but that couldn’t be more wrong, as almost every part of the body is continually rejuvenated and regrown.
The biggest human transformation, however, occurs in childhood. In the first years after birth, the remarkable power of a mother’s milk protects babies and pushes them into a period of growth that is unequalled during their lifetimes – one where they more than double in height and triple in weight. During childhood, the brain takes center stage, requiring enormous amounts of energy as it grows an incredible network of connections to deal with all the new experiences and learning, before then pruning them back to leave a brain that is connected and efficient. These resources are then used during puberty to take the body through a wholesome metamorphosis, transforming from baby to child to adult.
While the journey upwards will cease, the amazing hidden processes of growth continue to ensure regeneration throughout the wear and tear of daily life. And though the ability to regenerate diminishes, this new understanding of how humans grow means looking forward to a future where the power to rejuvenate is extended, helping people to live longer, healthier lives and push the boundaries of what a human lifetime can be.
Episode Two – “Survive”
Discover the everyday miracles within the body to keep humans alive and the extraordinary lengths the body goes through to keep working every second of every hour of every day. From the moment of conception, the internal conditions humans need to stay alive are finely balanced. The tiniest change can mean the difference between life and death. Fortunately, the body has a remarkable arsenal of processes that ensure survival. It’s able to respond and fight back when it’s under assault from the environment, whether that’s the temperature, viruses, or the rough and tumble of daily life. See how killer cells go into battle against deadly infection, uncover the amazing mechanisms the body calls on to repair damage and see how powerful reflexes protect against danger.
Ultimately, fear is the thing that keeps people out of situations that cause the most harm. It’s by controlling and managing fears that humans have been able to explore and push boundaries, to venture to the four corners of the Earth, secure in the knowledge that they have what it takes to survive.
Episode Three – “Learn”
Explore the surprising ways experiences shape the mind and body during a human’s journey from the most helpless to the most sophisticated organism on Earth. People spend a lifetime learning the complex business of being human – how to walk and move, how to communicate with the rest of the world, and how to navigate a complex social society. Uncover how people develop new skills, from riding a bike to learning to walk. Learn the unexpected link between rhythm and the ability to talk. And see, for the very first time, how memories are formed. The brain is central to this, storing and processing billions of pieces of information every second, but the body is also constantly learning and adapting from the environment.
It is a journey that never stops. Scientists now know that humans are constantly adapting and changing, even at a genetic level; life is more fluid than ever thought possible.