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Reaction speed can be the difference between life and death.
To get out of danger, you have to react fast.
Be accurate. And predict your opponent's next move.
You need the power of a superhero.
A superhero like Hawkeye,
whose superior eyesight, anticipation and
super-fast reactions help him fight evil.
But I have heard of a real man with exceptional eyesight,
a man with unbelievable anticipation,
a real-life man with lightning-fast reactions.
-Growing up in the Australian bush, Anthony Kelly
taught himself judo and is a master in ten different martial arts.
During his years of training, Anthony discovered his amazing
ability to move very quickly,
astonishing scientists around the world
with his-lightning quick reactions.
Anthony holds an incredible 13 world records
for his fast reactions.
And this is him! Anthony Kelly.
Anthony, I am so excited to meet you.
Now, tell me, can you move faster than any other person?
I have the record for the fastest reaction time in the world.
Wow, will you take part in three scientific tests
so we can see just how different your body is to mine?
Sounds like a fantastic challenge. I'd love to.
This is Dr Megan John, she's an expedition doctor
and has kept people alive in some of the most dangerous environments.
She's devised three Super Tests to discover how Tim
and Anthony's bodies react differently.
Day One, and Doctor Megan's first test is a real brain teaser.
I've brought you to this university
because I am interested in testing your reaction speed.
Inside here is a laboratory with some state-of-the-art equipment
that will let me do just that.
This lab at Strathclyde University in Glasgow is kitted out with
a 3D motion-sensor analysis system.
For this Super Test,
Dr Megan's team have also fitted the lab with two light walls.
When it comes to reactions,
your brain has to send a signal to your muscles to get them to move.
I'm going to be looking at the speed both of you can achieve that.
I've got two light walls here, one for each of you.
What do these things do? How do they work, all this kit?
These lights are going to come on, one at a time.
As you press each one, another one will come up.
This will be recording how many times you hit a light
correctly in one minute.
This lab is really high tech. It's got cameras all around you
so we can monitor in 3D how your muscles are moving.
In order to do that, I need you both in special outfits.
Is this really exciting?
React Man, whoooaaa, let's go!
Let's do this!
These reflector balls being placed all over Tim and Anthony's bodies
will be picked up by the special cameras placed around the lab.
"I have the force."
The cameras will send information back to
a computer that will then make an outline of their bodies.
They're just setting up the computers so they can make
"bionic computer me".
The way that they do this is they draw a line between all these
markers and that makes the bionic computer version of me.
Wow! Oh, look at that, there's bionic computer me!
Throughout the test, the motion-capture equipment will record
how fast Tim and Anthony's muscles are moving as they hit the lights.
Most people could hit the light in about under half a second.
This is the time it takes for light to hit your eyes, sending
a signal to your brain which sends a signal to your muscles to move.
But if you do this continuously, you'll start to get very tired.
Your body will move slower as your brain struggles to concentrate.
You'll start to make mistakes and get very stressed.
Your body movements become jerky
and you could pull or even tear a muscle.
So, how will Tim cope with the never-ending light,
and will Anthony's super-fast reactions
blow us away in the brain-busting light-wall challenge?
So the light wall is going to pick up how many times you press
the buttons, the cameras are going to pick up your movement.
Are you ready, boys?
-Are you ready? Come on.
-I'll have to really concentrate.
-Lights down. OK.
From the word go, it looks as though Tim and Anthony are neck and neck.
Both pretty identical at the moment.
Their reactions to the lights show that their eyes are sending
signals back to their brains quick enough for them
to hit the lights at a pretty good speed.
Now, your eye works a bit like a video camera.
Light travels into the front,
through to the back of your eye, called the retina.
The back of your eye has lots of light-detecting cells that
record what you are seeing and send images to your brain.
Your brain then works like a computer
and processes what you see
by checking with your memory banks
to see if it recognises anything.
This happens all the time without you even thinking about it,
and your brain works so quickly, you don't notice it's doing it.
So, Tim is actually on 40, whereas Anthony is on 37.
Essentially, not what I was expecting at all!
So, although Tim and Anthony had a level score for the first part
of the test, halfway through, Tim seems to have taken a small lead.
45 seconds, 53 for Tim, 49 for Anthony.
Remember, the motion-sensor equipment will be recording how
quickly their bodies are reacting when they see the lights.
END OF TEST HOOTER
-Oh, you killed me.
You just saw that reaction for the first test, one minute each.
Timothy managed 71, Anthony only 60!
Wow, what a surprising result.
Tim managed to hit 11 more lights
over 60 seconds than Reaction Man, Anthony!
But Dr Megan's test isn't over yet.
Anthony and Tim face another 60 seconds of the light-wall challenge.
I've got a few tricks up my sleeve.
So, let's see, if I put them off with a few distractions, what happens.
ALARM BELL RINGS
Dr Megan's alarm-bell sound effect seems to be slowing them down.
This is because there are too many signals
going to and from their brains.
Your nerves send signals to
and from your brain really fast to different parts of your body.
Nerves are like electrical wires inside you and they carry
tiny electrical signals at a speed of 250 miles an hour.
The nerve signals TO your brain tell you what's going on around you.
And the nerve signals FROM your brain tell your body to move.
But if your brain starts receiving lots of signals at once,
it has more to think about and your reactions will slow down.
ALARM BELL RINGS
They're definitely showing slightly lower numbers with the distractions.
Let's throw another one in there.
Amazingly, Anthony seems to have regained his focus
and is no longer being put off by the noise.
But the crying baby seems to have thrown Tim.
That's a crying-baby noise. That's not helpful!
You can hear Tim saying, "That's the sound of a baby, that's not helpful."
His focus has been distracted.
The clock is ticking, but Dr Megan has time for one more blast!
Again, Tim is slightly higher. This is really unexpected.
So, with the test over, the results are very surprising.
Tim has remained in the lead, this time by ten lights,
and that was with the noise distractions.
Tim may have hit more lights than Reaction Man Anthony,
but the motion-capture analysis gives us a clue why.
So, this is the information from the motion-sensor cameras.
This is Tim. This is Anthony.
There were two things I've learned
from looking at the information I have got.
Tim, you have a 25cm height difference over Anthony.
And that means your reach,
where your hands can get to, is also 25cm greater.
So, we can see, when the lights came on at waist height for Anthony,
he was actually quicker getting to them than you were, Tim.
Anthony's reaction times were quicker. It was simply
the distance he had to reach to get to the higher ones that was
the problem in this test.
So, even though you did hit more lights in this test, Tim,
it doesn't necessarily mean your reactions were quicker.
I think we can put most of that down to your increased reach and height.
Can we see that?
Look at that. Is that why I won?
I think that probably is.
Let's see what happens in the next test.
My reactions might have been fast in this test,
but there are people whose lives depend on their fast reactions.
The Irula tribe of South-East India are expert snake catchers,
passing their skills down through the generations for hundreds
The bare-footed Irula hop around the snake, relying on their
super-fast reflexes to stop getting bitten with deadly poison.
As the snake begins to tire,
they grab its tail and, in the blink of an eye, trap it in a sack.
The tribe sell the venom to make snake-bite cures
and then release the snake unharmed back to the wild.
So, for the second Super Test,
Dr Megan has a more physical challenge up her sleeve.
Today I am interested in your muscle power and fatigue ability.
Fatigue ability is how tired your muscles get
when you keep working them hard.
In this Super Test, Dr Megan will use special sensors to count
how many times Tim and Anthony can hit these punch bags
in four 30-second bursts.
So how many punches do you think you can do in the two minutes?
Well, I'll be happy if I get a couple of hundred.
But my world record is 347 in one minute, so it just depends on how
my muscles are feeling today.
-347 in one minute...
-..and that's with no breaks?
-With no breaks.
That's amazing. And you've got... Have you got another world record?
Yeah, for punching the most in one hour. 11,457.
So you could keep it going for an hour, as well as just two minutes?
I can, but it's excruciating on your body.
You really feel it, do you?
So, two minutes for a normal person, erm...
You know, if you can get, let's say, 300...
I'd be really happy with that?
That would be a really good score to have.
So, if I could aim for 300... I might just make that.
Tim and Anthony's hands are being bound in bandages for protection.
You don't shake like this, boxers shake like this...
-Yeah, hey, baaa!
The boxing gym has been rigged up with cameras to capture every move.
This piece of kit is an electromyogram, or EMG,
and it will measure Tim and Anthony's muscle movement throughout
the test and show just how hard and fast they are working.
Left or right, Doctor?
Right for you.
The sensors being placed on Tim and Anthony's arms will pick up signals
from their muscles and send the information back to the computer.
Wow, it's weird, isn't it? Oh, it's weird.
Punching a punch bag requires a lot of energy
and strength from your muscles.
As you punch, your heart rate rises.
Your muscles start to get tired and begin to hurt.
If you don't stop, the intense exercise would make you feel dizzy.
Eventually, your muscles will get so painful you'll be forced to stop.
OK, come on, Tim, let's get this challenge on.
OK, so I'm all bound up. I've got the best kit,
I've got boxing experts on standby.
Just don't try punching unless it's part of
one of Dr Megan's Super Tests.
It's not a good idea. Don't do it in the supermarket, in the school,
in the playground - just don't punch people.
OK, Tim, Anthony, I'll be counting you in.
Immediately, there is a big difference between Anthony and Tim.
If we slow our cameras down, we can see just how much faster
Anthony is punching than Tim.
The punching is working different muscles in Anthony
and Tim's arms.
Muscles are attached to your bones
and they work in pairs to move your body.
Muscles are made of lots of very thin strands, called fibres,
which are bundled together like a thick rope.
These tiny fibres slide past each other
to tighten or relax the muscle.
So, to move your arm up, the bicep muscle at the front pulls tight
and gets shorter and at the same time
the tricep muscle at the back relaxes and gets longer.
Beginning to sweat, I think.
Anthony, amazingly, has hit his punch bag 275 times
in just 30 seconds.
Tim managed 228 hits.
Get yourself psyched.
Time for Round Two.
Three, two, one... Punch!
Look at Tim now. He's looking sweaty,
he's already throwing loads of his body behind it.
Anthony - look how cool and calm he is, only using the top muscles,
not wasting any energy.
Agh, my muscles are really tiring now.
Feeling very tired in the arms.
Anthony's arms are moving much faster than Tim's.
This is because of the structure of his muscles.
Your muscles are made up of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibres.
We have about half of each in our muscles,
but we are all born with a slightly different mixture.
If you have more slow-twitch fibres, you react slower,
but you will be able to keep moving for longer,
so you'd be good at things like long-distance running.
If you have lots of fast-twitch fibres you react faster,
but can't keep going for long, so you will get tired quicker -
you'd be better at sprinting.
Back in the gym and, amazingly, Anthony is still hitting
the punch bag as fast as he did at the start.
Tim, on the other hand, is slowing right down
and the power of his punches is starting to weaken.
Another 30 seconds over and Anthony is still maintaining
the strong force of his punch, throwing 50 more punches than Tim.
I feel really out of breath now,
and I do have a slight burning sensation in the back of my arms.
And Anthony is still looking really calm.
Look at him. He's hardly even breathing.
The EMG trace shows me that Tim is using more energy to throw
fewer punches and the punches he is throwing are more wimpy!
The EMG trace from Anthony shows that his punches are the same strength,
more powerful and without his body tiring.
The force of Tim's punches is shifting all the time.
For the punches to count, they must be hit with strong, steady strength.
How are you feeling, Tim?
Yeah, my heart is running quite fast, I think.
It's the final 30 seconds of the test.
Three, two, one... Punch!
I'm going to race you!
Tim's starting to show lots of signs of getting really quite tired.
He's using all parts of his body to throw behind his punches,
wasting energy he doesn't need to.
This is a really tiring thing.
If I compare Tim's punches to Anthony, Anthony's standing there,
close punches tight to his body, not wasting even a speck of energy.
Boys, how are you feeling?
Quite out of breath.
Oh, right! Good work, Tim.
Good work, you!
Anthony's looking like he's hardly done anything.
And the EMG results explain why.
Tim, you were throwing all over the place.
Your readings are much, much wider.
Anthony, on the other hand, you were completely consistent -
much lower waste of energy, essentially.
So, the results show that by the end of Super Test Two, Tim managed
an impressive 862 punches,
but our Reaction Man, Anthony, with his incredible punching power
hit his punch bag an amazing 1039 times.
So, Tim, how are your arms feeling?
They felt really, really tired, like
midway through in the third one and the fourth one.
I felt very, very tired in the fourth one.
Anthony, what about your arms?
No, I'm OK.
I've never seen information like it.
The consistency that the EMG was showing - phenomenal!
Thank you, Doctor. My motto is, "Practice is the key to success."
If you practise at anything, you can
become a champion.
So, how does Anthony do this?
He was born with more fast-twitch fibres in his muscles than normal,
so he can react super-fast, and his years of training
mean his fast-twitch muscle fibres don't get tired out as quickly.
Also, Anthony's brain needs less time to process the signals
from his nerves, and his reactions are almost automatic.
As well as this, he uses a sense of anticipation.
Anthony is able to work out what is going to happen before it does,
so he can start his movements earlier.
I might not be the fastest boxer in the world,
but being able to punch hard and fast could save your life.
In Queensland, Australia, grandmother Paddy Trumbull
was snorkelling in the sea.
Suddenly a huge, two-metre-long bull shark attacked her
and pulled her under the water.
Paddy reacted extremely fast and
began punching the shark on the nose.
She kept punching really fast, over and over,
until the shark let go of her and swam away.
Paddy's quick reactions saved her life.
For the final Super Test, Dr Megan has brought Tim and Anthony to the
ruins of this Scottish castle.
Anthony tells me his reactions are so fast he can catch flying arrows.
Real arrows from an archer?
Real arrows from an archer.
You can do that?
I have the Guinness world record for the most arrows caught,
both sighted and blindfolded.
-In a blindfold you can catch them?!
For my third and final Super Test,
Tim, you and Anthony will both be catching arrows.
In this Super Test, Anthony and Tim will attempt to catch ten
rubber-tipped arrows, fired by two of the UK's top field archers.
The arrows will be fired from eight metres,
at more than 60 miles an hour!
Firing objects at people is very dangerous, as it can cause
serious injuries, so you should never, ever do anything like this.
For the test, they need to use more than just their reactions,
they need a strong sense of anticipation, as well.
This is because the arrows travel so fast they need to be able
to work out where they will end up before they are even fired.
Before they get started, Tim is keen for some advice
from world-record holder, Anthony.
This is a terrifying test -
absolutely unbelievable danger involved in this, catching arrows.
Do you have a single top tip for me that's going to get me through this?
Watch the archers. Your life depends on it. Watch the archers, be aware.
Look, ready, ready, ready. Watch the archer, watch the archer,
baboom, and off you go!
These are reaction rulers. You may have played it at school when your
teacher will get a ruler and you will get tested for your reaction.
It's very simple - when I drop, you'll attempt to catch.
OK, ooh...very poor!
-Do you see that?
-What were you concentrating on there?
So the eye's sending the message down to the hand, the hand then
sends a message back to the brain for the hand to close.
So, what we've got to do is we've got to work the anticipation.
Let's try it again. I'm going to say shoot and you'll catch.
Shoot. That's better. Let's go again.
-It's getting better all the time.
I wasn't even looking at the ruler, I was looking at you.
Time for practice is over. It's the moment of truth.
Dr Megan has insisted on rubber-tipped arrows to make this
test slightly less dangerous.
This test is extremely dangerous. You should never attempt
anything like this.
Dr Megan has dressed Tim head-to-toe in protective clothing and has
a trained first-aid team on standby in case he gets hurt.
So, Tim, you are all kitted up. You are up first.
Good luck, son!
Remember, Tim is about to attempt to catch ten arrows travelling
at 60 miles an hour.
Even if you do have top international archers,
a medieval castle and top-level protective clothing at home,
do not try this at home.
I am absolutely terrified.
So, will any of the arrows make it into Tim's hand,
and will Anthony's super-speedy reactions blow us away
in this deadly, arrow-catching test?
So, archers... Go!
Tim has missed the first arrow.
Ooh, ouch. Now he's closed his hand
too soon and the arrow has hit his fist.
Remember, these arrows are travelling
at over 60 miles per hour.
Ooh, touched it!
Tim's eyes are all over the place, his anticipation is rubbish.
I'm not sure he is going to catch any of these arrows.
Oh, missed it.
Tim seems to be watching the arrow...
Oh, ow, gosh, that hurt!
..but the arrow is travelling too fast for him to see and catch.
This is his tenth arrow. If he misses this, he'll have
missed them all. Will he catch it?
Oh, missed it.
Tim has failed to catch any arrows in Dr Megan's final Super Test.
I nearly got three!
Tim is lucky the archers weren't using real arrows
and he was wearing thick gloves or he'd have been seriously injured.
If that had been a real arrow, I'd now be standing here like this...
-..with it through my hand.
Anthony is about to attempt the same challenge,
but will he do any better?
We're about to find out.
Anthony has years of experience catching arrows
and doesn't normally wear protective clothing.
He's asked to do the test without the extra
padding as it might distract him, making it even more dangerous.
-Archers, are you ready? BOTH:
-Anthony, are you ready?
It's not a good start for Reaction Man, Anthony -
he's missed the first two arrows!
Will he be third-time lucky?
Ooh, he got one.
Yes! It seems that Anthony used the first two arrows to work out their
exact speed and angle, and now he is using his sense of anticipation to
catch the rest.
And now there is no stopping him.
Looking at our special slow-motion camera,
you can see just how incredible his reactions are!
He's just getting all of them. This is unbelievable!
All Tim and Megan can do is watch with amazement.
-How amazing is that!
Incredibly, at the end of that test, Anthony has caught
eight out of ten arrows travelling at 60 miles per hour.
Anthony has proved beyond any doubt that his eyesight, anticipation and
lightning-fast reflexes are far superior to any normal human being.
Anthony, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you.
It's been fantastic, mate!
I came looking for a superhero, a real-life Hawkeye with
lightning-fast reactions. I found one.
Anthony Kelly, you are Superhuman!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Tim Fitzhigham meets the humans who defy science and puts their powers to the test - against himself. Tim meets Anthony Kelly, a man who holds 13 world records for his super-fast reactions, who is a master in ten martial arts and who can catch flying arrows with his bare hands - blindfolded! But does Anthony's extraordinary ability to react with lightning-quick speed make him a real-life Hawkeye? Tim challenges Anthony to three super tests in order to prove, or disprove, these ultra-fast superhuman powers.
Can Tim beat the man who holds the record of the fastest reaction time in the world and catch a flying arrow with his hands? This is exactly as dangerous as it sounds, so Tim uses state-of-the-art technology, real medical science and his very own mission doctor as he prepares for his challenges.