Northern lights at a campfire in northern Norway
Northern lights at a campfire in northern Norway

Cosmic Queries – Science of Survival

Christian Uhlig, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

Can science help you survive in the Arctic? Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly learn about what happens to the body during starvation and harsh conditions from someone who’s been there with survival doctor, veteran, and contestant on Season 9 of Alone, Dr. Teimojin Tan.

We discover Arctic warfare and what it takes to survive in the wild. What will kill you first in a survival scenario? We rank the things you need to survive and explore the importance of companionship. Teimojin tells us about his experience living alone in the Arctic for 63 days and what methods he used to avoid drop shock. What is the hardest mental aspect of surviving alone?

Learn the stages of what the body goes through during starvation. What is it like to be a doctor and knowing exactly what’s happening inside your body as it’s happening? We discuss ketosis, the body’s metabolic rate in the Arctic, and what happens when your fat stores deplete. How do you prevent sickness in the wild? How would we deal with isolation and intense environments in space travel?

What are best practices for designing a shelter for extreme cold? We discuss fluid dynamics and how best to retain heat. Can humans survive on drinking their own urine? Learn why that’s not such a good idea in a survival situation. We explore the law of the end of the world, the realities of self-amputation, primitive methods for staving off infection, and even more…

Thanks to our Patrons Steve Duke, Jon Siegfreid, Pau Vogel, Luis, Eric Weaver, and David H. Carroll for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

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