I couldn’t resist a title like that with the New Year around the corner and a number of projects about to launch but what I really want to talk about is the TV series Limitless.
The series sees Chris Hemsworth push his body beyond what anyone could reasonably expect.
My attention was drawn to the series by some colleagues who helped out with the science side of things. Their contributions have been replaced with voice overs by the actor but I think they way the science is explained throughout the programs is good and easy to relate to.
The body is pushed with a number of things we probably all encounter in some ways
Stress – I am sure we all have a fair amount of stress although walking out on a beam projecting from a tall building is not the sort of stress most of us suffer from. It was interesting to see the techniques they used to try and help someone who doesn’t like heights step out above the city skyline. Particularly interesting when he got to the end of the beam and started to freak out – should have really seen that one coming in the risk assessment.
Shock – which was cold water swimming. I swim in the North Sea but luckily no one has put me through special forces drowning training.
Fasting – there is much debate on whether intermittent fasting is good for you or not. In this programme they undertook a 4 day fast. That would be challenging enough but they broke the fast by free diving down to a barrier reef and spear fishing for their tea. Missing breakfast will never seem so important again.
Strength – The. number of people I know who can successfully climb a rope is few, even smaller is the number of places where you could practice it so when the task is to climb 100 feet up a rope they had to come up with some innovative ways to practice. As if that wasn’t hard enough they then dangled the rope under a cable car.
Memory – this programme saw them navigating across the outback from memory. I very rarely drive anywhere without a SatNav now and I don’t even attempt to remember peoples phone numbers – I don’t need to they are all saved in my phone. Maybe if we didn’t rely on technology so much to do things for us we wouldn’t have to go trekking across the outback to try and preserve our memory. This episode was made more poignant by the fact revealed during the series that Chris has been found to be carrying two copies of the gene APOE4. This makes him 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimers disease. Something he had seen in his relatives.
Acceptance – the final episode was a tear jerker. They built a whole retirement village and placed the actor in a special suit which limited the use of his body in line with ageing. At first he struggled against it but eventually he had to accept that he could not do what he used to be able to do and adapt. With some fancy prosthetics they aged his wife and brought her on as a special guest before taking him through an immersive piece of work that played out his death.
There are many things you could take away from this series but what I take away is that the body is an amazing piece of kit which a lot of people do not fully understand. If we were to be able to explain to people what they had at their disposal then maybe we could enhance their understanding of their own anatomy in a way that could only improve their lives.
If that doesn’t set us up for a 2023 of some Anatomical Public Engagement then I don’t know what does.