Pompeii Worm Beyond Bionic


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Pompeii Worm

Andy Torbet takes on the world's most heat-resistant animal, as he trys to survive temperatures of 500 degrees Celsius to match the Pompeii worm.


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Have you ever wondered what it would be like

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if humans had the super skills of animals?

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But who would be crazy enough to try and fly like a falcon,

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grip like the gorilla and swim like a shark?

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This guy.

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I'm Andy Torbet and this is Beyond Bionic.

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The show where I try and match the skills of some of nature's most

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incredible animals.

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Action is Andy's middle name, I mean it's Thomas but...

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And now, I'm using my super skills to take on nature's superheroes

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in the biggest challenge of my life.

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And don't worry, I'm hanging around to make sure he doesn't do anything

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too extreme.

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Whoa!

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Today's Beyond Bionic challenge really turns up the temperature as I

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try and match the most heat-resistant creature on earth.

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Is it hot in here?

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It's time to go beyond bionic.

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You wouldn't have much marshmallow left after this campfire.

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On today's Beyond Bionic,

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I'm tackling extreme temperatures as I try and match the incredible

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skills of one of nature's most heat-resistant animals.

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Things are hotting up.

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That's super toasty, I can feel the heat from here.

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But it's not man-made heat that this creature can withstand,

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it's heat of a much more explosive kind.

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So I've hotfooted over to one of the world's most active volcanic spots -

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-Iceland.

-I believe that's what they call an oxymoron,

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it's called Iceland but it's, like, the opposite, it's superhot.

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There are over 30 volcanoes here and hundreds of thermal springs formed

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when water seeps into the ground and then is heated by molten magma

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near the surface.

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If that water gets superhot, then it explodes out of the

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earth in a boiling fountain known as a geyser.

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-All right?

-Not that sort of geezer.

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This sort of geyser.

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It's not just volcanoes above ground that create geysers.

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Underwater volcanoes can create these superhot jets of water, too.

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When you find a geyser at the bottom of the ocean,

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it's called a hydrothermal vent, and that's exactly where

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this little fellow lives.

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The Pompeii worm.

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Andy, that's a dead worm.

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Is there a worm doctor in the house?

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This worm is a very rare specimen used for scientific study.

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These worms were only discovered in the mid-1980s.

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Ah, the olden days before mobile phones and the Internet.

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Did that time really exist?

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Very little is known about the Pompeii worm as they live over

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2,000 metres below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

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The Pompeii worm is one superhot geezer.

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OK, I get it, this worm is hot stuff.

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So how are you going to beat it?

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I'm going to try and survive extreme heat just like the Pompeii worm.

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So there's only one thing to do.

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I've got to go beyond bionic.

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The Pompeii worm belongs to a huge family of worms called polychaetes,

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also known as bristle worms because they're covered in hairs.

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I've got a burning desire to know more, Andy.

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The Pompeii worm was discovered in the mid-1980s by French marine

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biologists, and it's one of the most heat-resistant creatures on Earth.

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It's name is taken from the Roman city of Pompeii that was destroyed

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during an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79.

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Explosive facts!

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I like it.

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Life deep under the Pacific Ocean is truly extreme.

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The hydrothermal vents, where the Pompeii worm lives, spew out jets

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of water four times hotter than a boiling kettle.

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But the seawater surrounding the thermal vent is near-freezing cold.

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What? I don't know whether to break a sweat or start shivering.

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This causes a bigger temperature difference

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in the tubes the worms call home,

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their tails stay inside the tubes keeping toasty warm at 80 Celsius,

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but their heads poke out into the ocean at a much cooler 22 degrees.

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That is one extreme hot tub.

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And it's not just extreme temperatures that make this little

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creature one tough cookie. The superheated water coming out of the

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thermal vents also contain toxic chemicals and molten metal.

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Andy, I hate to say it but the Pompeii worm is totally

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beyond bionic.

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This is going to be one awesome challenge.

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My fiery challenge today is to work out how to survive

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like a Pompeii worm,

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and expose myself to some seriously hot temperatures.

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The Pompeii worm has incredible natural abilities to withstand heat.

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And it's got me inspired to see if I can do the same.

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So how are you going to test your heat resistance, Andy?

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I have to work out how to withstand the massive flames

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in the intense heat of this Beyond Bionic inferno.

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So this is like a giant walk-in barbecue.

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Whoa! You're going to be toast.

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So I need to search out the science that could help me go beyond bionic.

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With this wall of water, and my protective clothing,

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I can't feel anything.

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Enabling me to withstand extreme heat, just like the Pompeii worm.

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First off, I need to find out how heat resistant my body is.

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Come on, no worm could ever survive in there.

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The fact the Pompeii worm can withstand temperatures of over

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80 Celsius is incredible.

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For such a small creature, it's certainly a pretty big task

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and the first thing I need to do is work out how much heat my own skin

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can withstand.

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And what better way to do that than with a spot of fire walking?

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And they want me to walk on that.

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Our skin protects our internal organs from all sorts of damage

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and the skin on our feet is the toughest layer of all.

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Good job, because I'm going to put mine to the test

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on burning-hot embers.

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Now, I'm all for encouraging people to go out and have adventures but,

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in this instance I need to point out,

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I'm doing all this under expert supervision. I've even got...

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..my own team of firefighters and medics on site making sure I'm safe.

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So, in this instance, I have to say, genuinely, don't try this at home.

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There's a real art to fire walking, and you have to get the temperature

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just right, which means letting the fire burn down to leave superhot

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glowing embers.

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Who's that tough cookie?

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Karen, that was very impressive, how hot is that?

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On average 660 degrees Celsius.

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OK, so what sort of temperature would your feet burn at?

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Your skin on your feet will start burning at round about 200 Celsius.

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So why don't your feet burn when you walk across this?

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Because we've burned the wood down to its carbon ember state,

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and what we love about wood is when it's burning it radiates heat,

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it throws out the heat and it keeps us nice and warm, but wood isn't

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-very good at transferring the heat onto the source of your feet.

-OK.

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So with a short contact time with the brisk pace that you're walking,

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your feet will be unharmed.

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Yeah, I hear everything you're saying, but that still looks pretty

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terrifying to me.

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Now, the Pompeii worm has this bacterial layer

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which acts as a barrier to the heat.

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If I did something similar,

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say dip my feet in water before I started, would that help?

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It may help for the first step of one foot,

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the first step of your second foot, but then what happens is the water's

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transferred onto the embers and then it evaporates with the heat

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and then it's disappeared by the third, fourth,

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and fifth steps, so it really is, "Keep moving."

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This is six metres of burning-hot embers and as the fire walk gets

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closer, everyone is focused on getting the job done safely.

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Things are starting to heat up, these embers are now at 660 Celsius.

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That is superhot.

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The question is, can I cross them in my bare feet without getting burned?

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Karen, any last top tips?

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Walk briskly, keep moving.

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OK. Time to take the worm on at its own game.

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Ow, ow, ow, ow, owie!

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Are you finished?

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The trick is to keep walking.

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If I stand still I'll burn my feet.

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And a Pompeii worm would find this a walk in the park.

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I think the heat has gone to your head, you're doing it again?

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You're definitely going to need a pedicure and a foot spa after this.

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Woohoo! Well done, well done!

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-Thank you very much.

-Now, how was it?

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-Was it anything like you thought it was going to be?

-No, it's a bit

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bizarre, cos you stand there looking at these red-hot embers

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in front of you, and the idea of walking on them with your bare feet

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seems, quite frankly, a bit mad.

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And it's that first step is the bit you need to

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kind of push yourself to do and then, once you're walking,

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you suddenly realise that, actually,

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your feet aren't even hot, let alone burning.

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-No, you don't feel the heat.

-It's incredible.

-Cos you think

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you're going to step on it and your feet are going to burst into flame.

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But sometimes it feels cool, sometimes it feels warm and it's

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never, ever, ever what you expect it's going to feel like.

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Well, thank you very much for showing me

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that a human being can actually walk on fire.

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I may have fire walked, but I'm nowhere near matching the Pompeii

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worm because, this time, I've only exposed my feet to the heat.

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Not my whole body. So now it's time to go bionic and find the technology

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that will help me face those extreme temperatures head on.

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This is one heavy-duty worm, but how hot is its competition?

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I have a feeling it's going to get a bit heated around here.

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The Saharan silver ant is one of the most heat-resistant animals on the

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planet, surviving in desert temperatures of up to 50 Celsius.

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But 50 Celsius to the Pompeii worm wouldn't even raise a sweat.

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Because these guys could survive in temperatures up to 80 degrees.

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You can't worm your way out of losing that one, Mr Ant.

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A mouse sure knows how to get out of a tight spot,

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as it's able to fit through gaps twice as small as its body width,

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but scientists believe Pompeii worms can fit into spaces ten times

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smaller than their width.

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Tight squeeze right there.

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The male sperm whale can reach 18 metres in length and usually

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hunts for its food around 1,500m below the surface.

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But you've got to dive down much further to find the Pompeii worm,

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who can be found hanging out at depths of over 2,000 metres.

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That is one awesome-winning worm all right.

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Animals really are nature's superheroes and I'm totally in awe.

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But I'm also seriously competitive, hate being beaten,

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and I like to win.

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So, if I'm going to stand a chance against the strongest,

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fastest and best-designed animals in the world,

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I need their super skills.

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And how do I do that?

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I'm going around the world to find

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the latest in cutting-edge technology

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and the experts who could help me transform my body

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and go beyond bionic.

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So, what have I got to do to survive

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like a Pompeii worm and withstand

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extreme heat?

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Stay cool, my friend. How are you going to live like me?

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The Pompeii worm can survive near-boiling temperatures,

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thanks to a special kind of insulation

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it can grow all by itself.

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Ooh, like a snuggly-warm fleecy coat.

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Its very own fleecy coat made out of bacteria.

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The worm has tiny glands that produce mucus, which is the

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perfect food for the bacteria.

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They grow up to 1cm thick, coating the worm in a thermal blanket.

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That is so gross and so genius at the same time.

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This coat insulates the worm and protects it from heat,

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so all I've got to do is...

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Cover yourself in something sticky?

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Hope some bacteria won't lunch?

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Grow your own insulating bug coat?

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I've got to find the right tech to protect me against the intense heat

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as I take on the Beyond Bionic inferno.

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Is it getting hot in here?

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I'm determined to turn up the heat on this challenge,

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so I've got suited and booted and I'm joining forces...

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..with the firefighters from Manchester Airport.

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One crucial component of the Pompeii worm's heat resistance is

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a centimetre-thick coat of bacteria which covers their entire body.

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This provides a natural barrier

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against the near-boiling water which the worms inhabit.

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Now, you and I don't have that and, if we did, it would be pretty gross,

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and that's why I'm dressed up like a firefighter.

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I've joined firefighter Andy Evans on a training exercise.

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So, Andy, what am I actually wearing?

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You're wearing fire-protective boots,

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fire-retardant trousers,

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fire-retardant jacket with fire-retardant gloves

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and a fire-retardant helmet.

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And how does it work?

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It basically creates a barrier between you and the heat source.

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-OK. So it insulates you...

-Insulates you from the fire, yes.

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And is there anything else that you

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use that allows you to approach a fire safely?

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Yeah, we will reintroduce water,

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which also insulates us from the fire and heat source,

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creates a cooling barrier, and enables

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you to work nice and comfortable for long periods of time.

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-Can I see that in action?

-Dead right.

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Here at the airport,

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the Fire Service has a full-size mock-up of a jet engine,

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which is used to train firefighters to tackle high-intensity blazes.

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And I'm getting the chance to put my

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protective clothing and hose skills to the test.

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The temperature inside that engine is about 1,000 degrees.

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With this wall of water and my protective clothing,

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I can't feel anything.

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The Pompeii worm also uses water to improve its heat resistance.

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The red, tentacled head of the worm takes in cold water from the

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ocean and pumps it around its body, helping to cool it down.

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The power of this hose is incredible!

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It can deliver water at a rate of 450 litres per minute.

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My clothing and the water mean I can get close to the fire,

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but without them, the temperature would be unbearable

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and I'd be in real danger from the flames.

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That was incredible.

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To be so close to the fire, but with all this equipment on and

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my protective wall of water, I could feel almost no heat at all.

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So, I'd definitely improved my Pompeii worm-like abilities.

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But as close as I was, I was still on the edge of the fire,

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I wasn't in the heart of the heat.

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And that's where a Pompeii worm lives and that's what I've got

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to try and do, so things are just heating up.

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The Beyond Bionic team have set me a burning-hot challenge to survive

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extreme temperatures, just like the Pompeii worm.

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The trick is to keep walking.

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If I stand still, I'll burn my feet.

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So I've got to find a way to transform my body and give myself

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the same heat-resistant abilities as this mega minibeast.

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I've found some incredible protective clothing that can help me

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resist intense heat from a distance.

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But now, I need to find something

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that will protect me when I'm completely surrounded by flames

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in the Beyond Bionic inferno.

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Can I survive extreme heat, just like the Pompeii worm?

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Or will my challenge go up in smoke?

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I want to get one step closer to success in this challenge,

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so I've come to a place where people work in genuinely extreme

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temperatures every single day.

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This is Somers Forge near Birmingham.

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In here, they use giant furnaces running at temperatures of

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over 1,200 degrees to help them melt down iron ore to make steel.

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Look at that!

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This huge furnace is six times hotter and at least 100 times bigger

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than the oven that you or I have at home.

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In fact, the heat inside there is as hot as lava coming out of a volcano.

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Wow! But I mean, just think how quickly it could do a pizza.

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Stood here, I can feel my face almost burning.

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It's like the hottest day you've ever felt in summer times ten!

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In fact, it's too hot, I'm getting out of here.

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But there are people here whose job it is to work close to the furnace

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and to handle the red-hot metals that come out of it.

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OK, are they, like, astronauts or something?

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That huge piece of metal has been baking inside the furnace

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for three days, and yet, that guy can't stand so close to it

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without the need of some big fountain of water to protect him.

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So I think a suit just like that one

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could be the key to success in this challenge.

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This is the X30 silver suit.

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This insulated shell is one of the most heat-resistant products in the

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world and promises to protect its wearer

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in heats of up to 1,650 Celsius.

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Let's find out just how good it is.

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The heat coming off this furnace is immense!

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But there's no way I could stand here without this suit on.

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And to show you just how hot it is, I've brought a snack.

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Mmm, chocolate, my favourite!

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Hey... Hey, wait, no, what are you doing?

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No! What a total waste!

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Now, that is hot chocolate.

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Now, THAT is snacktime ruined!

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That heat was unbelievable but, crucially,

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I couldn't feel a thing inside the silver suit.

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So I think this is definitely the ticket to ensure success

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in my final challenge.

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So what if we had other worm-like super skills?

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What if you could stretch your body

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like the Pompeii worm?

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You wouldn't have any problems

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reaching the top shelf in your kitchen,

0:19:420:19:44

because you'd be able to stretch your body twice its own length.

0:19:440:19:47

What if you dived underwater to say ciao to the Pompeii worm?

0:19:480:19:52

You would need to hold your breath

0:19:520:19:54

for a very long time because, to swim to depths of 2,500m

0:19:540:19:58

would take around 14 hours.

0:19:580:20:01

What if you could squeeze into small spaces like the Pompeii worm?

0:20:010:20:04

You could fit up a drainpipe, if you fancied being a drip.

0:20:040:20:07

It's time for my final challenge -

0:20:140:20:16

to survive exposure to extreme heat, just like my Pompeii worm friend.

0:20:160:20:21

The Beyond Bionic team have set up my final challenge in this

0:20:230:20:26

very special emergency services training facility in Merseyside.

0:20:260:20:31

And for good reason, because this is my most explosive challenge yet.

0:20:310:20:36

I mean, you're playing with fire, literally!

0:20:360:20:39

And we all know that's real dangerous.

0:20:390:20:41

I'm fully equipped for this.

0:20:470:20:49

I'm armed with a special heat-resistant silver suit,

0:20:490:20:51

my very own version of the Pompeii worm's bacterial layer

0:20:510:20:55

that protects it from extreme temperatures.

0:20:550:20:58

This suit can withstand temperatures of over 1,500 Celsius.

0:20:580:21:04

That's kind of volcano heat! OK...

0:21:040:21:07

And I hope it works, because I'm going to be surrounded by

0:21:070:21:10

intense heat in a 360-degree firestorm.

0:21:100:21:14

At the blast furnace, the heat was only coming from one direction.

0:21:140:21:17

And I'm now entering a space where the heat is going to be

0:21:180:21:20

all around me, just like the worm.

0:21:200:21:23

The challenge ahead of me is to withstand the intense heat

0:21:250:21:28

inside this - our very own specially constructed Beyond Bionic inferno.

0:21:280:21:32

The flames are going to pack quite a punch as they whip round me

0:21:350:21:38

just centimetres away in a big fiery vortex.

0:21:380:21:42

And the heat inside this chamber can rise to above 500 Celsius.

0:21:420:21:47

Now, that is proper Pompeii worm stuff.

0:21:470:21:50

My Beyond Bionic challenge is all going to be controlled by our

0:21:520:21:55

special effects supervisor, Andy.

0:21:550:21:58

So, Andy, run me through exactly what we've got here.

0:21:580:22:01

A large steel tank.

0:22:010:22:03

We've got three flame bars inside and the base is a giant fan.

0:22:030:22:06

So we're going to start that fan going, create a big vortex

0:22:060:22:09

and then we're going to pump in up to 120 litres of propane

0:22:090:22:12

and set it on fire.

0:22:120:22:14

That is a genius plan.

0:22:140:22:16

OK. So, on the safety side,

0:22:160:22:19

what measures have we got to make sure nothing goes wrong?

0:22:190:22:22

Essentially, we're going to start by introducing only a small amount of

0:22:220:22:26

propane and we'll gradually increase the amount.

0:22:260:22:29

We start relatively warm and then I give you a thumbs up and we just

0:22:290:22:33

get it hotter and hotter and hotter.

0:22:330:22:35

And what do we max out at?

0:22:350:22:36

What's the highest temperature it will get to in there?

0:22:360:22:39

-It's going to exceed 500 Celsius.

-OK, sounds good.

0:22:390:22:41

In that case, I will finish getting dressed and I'll see

0:22:410:22:43

-you back here in a minute.

-OK.

0:22:430:22:45

And there are lots of people on stand-by if I need any help.

0:22:480:22:52

There are paramedics and a fire crew.

0:22:520:22:54

Without them, I definitely would not be doing this.

0:22:540:22:57

Even a fire engine, but fingers crossed we won't need this today.

0:22:570:23:01

Does your mum know you're doing this, Andy?

0:23:010:23:04

Yeah, you're good. That's it.

0:23:040:23:07

I'm leaving nothing to chance.

0:23:070:23:09

As well as all this thermal protection,

0:23:090:23:11

I've also got an air cylinder on my back, it feeds into this,

0:23:110:23:14

my breathing mask.

0:23:140:23:16

And that means, inside the inferno, I can still breathe fresh air.

0:23:160:23:20

Number three.

0:23:200:23:21

Yep, you're good.

0:23:230:23:25

I've got on my boots, my trousers,

0:23:270:23:29

my jacket, my breathing apparatus, my underhood.

0:23:290:23:32

I've just got my big, silver hood-helmet to go on

0:23:320:23:35

as the last piece and then my gloves.

0:23:350:23:37

Oh, my, this is really happening.

0:23:390:23:43

Final checks complete.

0:23:470:23:49

The time has come.

0:23:510:23:52

I can stop this challenge at any time.

0:23:540:23:56

But this suit is at the cutting-edge of 21st-century protection.

0:23:580:24:02

I just have to believe in it.

0:24:030:24:05

Good luck, Andy! Oh, I'm sweating already!

0:24:050:24:09

This is incredible.

0:24:090:24:11

Standing inside an oven.

0:24:110:24:12

OK.

0:24:130:24:14

It's just me and the flicker of flames.

0:24:170:24:20

Stand by, stand by!

0:24:210:24:23

I know, in just a few moments, that will all change.

0:24:250:24:28

Now it's time to go beyond bionic!

0:24:290:24:32

Firing in three, two,

0:24:320:24:35

one, fire!

0:24:350:24:37

Whoa! Uh!

0:24:400:24:42

It's amazing because what your eyes are telling you is that you're stood

0:24:460:24:50

in the middle of a fireball, but yet your body is completely protected.

0:24:500:24:55

The first blast of fire was definitely a shock.

0:24:590:25:02

The size of the flames and how bright it was,

0:25:020:25:05

but it didn't burn for long.

0:25:050:25:07

Now it's time to turn up the heat and the gas

0:25:070:25:09

and hit me with a longer burn.

0:25:090:25:11

Is this for real?

0:25:110:25:13

Wait, you're doing it again?!

0:25:130:25:15

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

0:25:150:25:18

Here we go again. OK, a longer burn this time.

0:25:180:25:21

More intense heat.

0:25:210:25:22

Whoa!

0:25:260:25:27

The suit seems to be able to take more heat for longer.

0:25:290:25:32

After just a few seconds, I can already appreciate how extreme

0:25:320:25:35

it must be to live with heat surrounding you all the time,

0:25:350:25:38

just like the Pompeii worm.

0:25:380:25:40

I have no idea how this tiny creature does it day in, day out.

0:25:400:25:44

But you're not doing too bad yourself, Andy!

0:25:440:25:47

It's incredible in here.

0:25:480:25:49

The flames are just flying round me.

0:25:510:25:54

And it's like standing inside a volcano.

0:25:550:25:57

My volcano has one last eruption for me -

0:25:590:26:02

the highest temperature and the longest burn.

0:26:020:26:04

Stand by, stand by!

0:26:040:26:05

Will my silver suit protect me from temperatures above 500 Celsius?

0:26:050:26:10

You can feel a little bit of heat through the suit, but not much,

0:26:100:26:13

I'm still in one piece. I'm still good.

0:26:130:26:17

Andy, you cannot be enjoying this barbecue.

0:26:170:26:20

Firing in three, two,

0:26:210:26:24

one, fire!

0:26:240:26:26

You're totally on fire, Andy!

0:26:290:26:31

We should call this show Beyond Crazy Bananas!

0:26:310:26:33

-Whoa!

-HE CHUCKLES

0:26:330:26:36

You're stood in the middle of a fireball but, yet, it is beautiful.

0:26:360:26:41

You've definitely proven that this suit works.

0:26:410:26:45

I think the little worm guy would be super impressed.

0:26:450:26:48

It was incredible!

0:26:480:26:49

It was bizarre to see that fireball

0:26:490:26:54

racing around yourself.

0:26:540:26:55

And your eyes are telling you that, you know, you should be burning,

0:26:550:26:59

but I couldn't feel any heat at all.

0:26:590:27:01

This suit is incredible.

0:27:010:27:03

It's an amazing bit of tech and it works perfectly.

0:27:030:27:07

Finally!

0:27:070:27:09

Andy, that was the scariest Beyond Bionic challenge yet!

0:27:090:27:13

We need to cool you down quick.

0:27:130:27:15

How about an ice-cold drink? Maybe some ice cream?

0:27:150:27:19

That was incredible.

0:27:190:27:20

It's amazing to stand inside what is just a massive fireball.

0:27:200:27:26

I managed to withstand temperatures inside the inferno

0:27:260:27:30

of over 500 Celsius

0:27:300:27:33

with my version of the Pompeii worm's bacterial layer.

0:27:330:27:37

So this time, I've matched the power of the Pompeii worm.

0:27:370:27:41

I took on one of the most

0:27:430:27:44

heat-resistant animals on the planet - the Pompeii worm.

0:27:440:27:47

I battled flames and incredible temperatures

0:27:470:27:51

to match its ability to deal with extreme heat.

0:27:510:27:55

I truly went beyond bionic to take on the mighty Pompeii worm.

0:27:550:27:58

And best of all, I survived.

0:27:580:28:02

Thanks, guys!

0:28:020:28:03

Things are about to heat up on Beyond Bionic as Andy Torbet takes on the world's most heat-resistant animal. Very little is known about the mysterious Pompeii worm, which lives deep under the Pacific Ocean on hydro thermal vents. These vents pump out boiling water heated by underwater volcanoes, so Andy's challenge is to survive intense heat, just like the worm, in a specially built Beyond Bionic inferno. Will he be able to find the technological tools to withstand temperatures over 500 degrees Celsius?