Andy Green - Extreme G-Force Super Human Challenge


Andy Green - Extreme G-Force

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Super Human Challenge!

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This car was designed to travel at an amazing 150 mph.

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That's like doing the 200 metres in about half a second.

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But I've heard of a car that's been designed to travel

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nearly seven times faster than that.

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A staggering 1,000 mph!

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That's faster than a jumbo jet.

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It's faster than the speed of sound.

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Faster than a speeding bullet.

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The fastest car in the world!

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To drive a car like that,

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you'd need the powers of a superhero.

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A superhero like Superman,

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who travels at unbelievable speed and defies gravity to battle evil.

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But I have heard of a real man who can travel super-fast!

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A man who can withstand the forces of staggering speed!

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A real-life man that can defy gravity!

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At 18 years old, Andy Green joined the Royal Air Force,

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training as a fighter pilot. It was here that he discovered

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his amazing abilities at supersonic speeds.

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He's trained his body and mind to survive the powerful forces

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that are produced by the world's fastest machines!

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Astonishing scientists around the world,

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he is the only human being to break the speed of sound in a car.

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And this is him! Andy Green.

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-Andy, I'm thrilled to meet you.

-Tim, great to meet you.

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And this is a model of the Bloodhound supersonic car?

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Exactly right. This is going to be the world's fastest land vehicle.

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So driving at that kind of speed must require super skills?

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I'm lucky. I've got a background as a Royal Air Force fighter pilot,

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so I'm used to controlling things at high speed,

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travelling at very high speeds

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and, of course, coping with very high G-forces.

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So it's that kind of thing when you're on, say, a roller coaster

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and your body goes "whoa" against the chair. That's G-force?

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-Exactly.

-OK.

-When you go round the dips,

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and you're squashed into the seat, that's positive G,

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and, as you go up over the top and you float in the seat,

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that's zero into negative G.

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So would you mind if we undertook three tests, your body against mine,

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and we'll test them both and see if your body does something different?

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-Up for that?

-Of course. I'm a fighter pilot in the RAF, I'm used

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-to be being tested, so absolutely, let's do it.

-Let's have a go.

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This is Dr Megan John. She's an expedition doctor

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and has kept people alive in some of the most dangerous environments.

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She's devised three super-tests

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to discover how Tim and Andy's bodies react differently.

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Day One and Dr Megan's first test is a real head-spinner.

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This might not look like much, but inside here is a piece of equipment

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that will let me test how your body reacts to G-force.

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In Super-Test One, Dr Megan will use this - a centrifuge.

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Tim and Andy will be strapped into one of these hanging pods.

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As the centrifuge starts to spin round and round,

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the pods will swing out towards the wall.

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The faster the centrifuge spins, the more G-forces it makes. Dr Megan

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will see how the different levels of G-force affects their bodies.

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If you imagine like a washing machine on a fast spin cycle...

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-Yeah?

-..with all the clothes and the water being squished to either side,

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-that's what this will be like.

-Have you been on this thing before?

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This is where all RAF fighter pilots come.

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We actually come here to train in experiencing G for the first time.

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-Wow, so they train fighter jet pilots here?

-Exactly right!

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To make sure that, when we actually fly the aeroplanes, we know

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how to counter the G-force pulling the blood away from your head.

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Cos the last thing you need when you're flying a aeroplane

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is to start to lose your vision or indeed to start to lose

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the ability to think and react and co-ordinate.

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Everyone has a different tolerance to G-forces.

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But when 2 Gs are being applied, you'll feel twice as heavy

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and less blood gets to your head, making you feel light-headed.

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At 3 Gs, it feels like you're being crushed.

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Less blood gets to your eyes, making it harder to see.

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Between 4 and 6 Gs, you are in danger of passing out.

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Too much G-force over a long period of time

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can stop your blood flowing and you could die.

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This pod is kitted out with a blood pressure and heart rate monitor.

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There are two red lights for Andy and Tim to watch.

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The minute these lights begin to disappear,

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they must press the stop button

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as not enough blood is getting to their brain.

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Dr Megan will be monitoring everything from the control room

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and will stop the test if things get too dangerous.

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So how will Tim cope in the centrifuge?

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Will he make it to 6 G?

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This does feel like the control centre of something important.

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And will Andy reveal super G-force powers

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and keep the blood in his brain in this awesome test of the centrifuge?

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OK.

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Happy.

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It's amazing, it starts eerily slowly

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and then, suddenly, it kicks off.

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The movement of the centrifuge is tipping the pod.

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And away we go.

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MAN: 'That's 2 G now.'

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The centrifuge has started at 2 Gs.

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Andy and Tim's bodies should be feeling twice as heavy as normal.

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HE GASPS

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Wow!

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So Tim's having fun at the moment, he's at just over 2 G-force.

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Heart rate's really comfortable.

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Tim's heart rate might be comfortable,

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but as the G-force increases, he's beginning to feel the effects

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on other parts of his body.

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It feels like there's something pushing down on my shoulders

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and it's trying to push me into the floor.

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Under the same amount of G-force, Andy seems perfectly calm.

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When we hit 2 G of force, Andy's heart rate was still going at only

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60-70 beats a minute. Still pretty much the same as it was at rest.

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MAN: 'And you're now at 3 G.'

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Sort of like there's a hippopotamus sitting on my chest or something.

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Trying to stay relaxed.

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So he's saying that he feels a lot of weight on his chest.

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That's because, at 3 G, you weigh three times what you normally would,

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so it literally feels like all the air is being

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-squashed out of his lungs and pushed backwards.

-'Wow!'

-And in response,

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-his heart rate's gone up by about 30 extra a minute.

-'That's 4 G now.'

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Tim's heart is working harder

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to keep the blood moving around his body.

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Blood moves around your body in tubes called blood vessels.

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Blood vessels stretch open as your heart pumps blood through them.

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The force of blood going through them is called blood pressure.

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Usually, blood moves evenly from your head to your toes,

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but at 3 Gs, the force will push the blood towards your feet.

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With the blood being pushed downwards,

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it's harder for it to be pumped upwards.

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And so there's less blood going to your head

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and your blood pressure is lower.

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Andy and Tim are now experiencing 4 G.

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That's huge. That is a big amount of G pushing down

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and I'm going to try and lift my arms up.

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Wow! They feel heavy, really heavy!

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Most people would be struggling to stay conscious

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at this level of G-force. It's amazing that Tim is still going.

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I have the red lights.

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But even more amazingly,

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our G-force man Andy is still feeling little effect.

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At a comfortable 4 G, so something

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we really are trained to cope with reasonably consistently.

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So Andy's heart rate's still going pretty much the same as resting.

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It is incredible! At 4 G, Andy's heart rate is the same

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as it would be if he was sitting at home having a cup of tea!

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OK, we're at 5 G now and I can feel it's affecting my voice,

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because my jaw feels like it's dropping out.

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Andy's jaw seem unaffected. He's having no problem speaking.

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5 G, now starting to work a little bit harder

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in terms of feeling the G, supporting my head.

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Finally, at 5 G, Andy is starting to feel some effects of the G-force,

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but not as much as Tim!

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The force is pushing the skin on his face right back.

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Dr Megan is worried he could be close to losing his vision.

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It's really important you let me know

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if those red dots start to disappear.

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I still have the red lights.

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Your eyes have light-detecting cells at the back of them

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that tell your brain what you can see.

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These cells need oxygen from your blood to work.

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As the G-force pushes blood down,

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your eyes get less blood. First of all,

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it's only the cells at the edges that stop working

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and it seems like you're looking down a tunnel.

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Eventually, no blood will get to your eyes

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and you won't be able to see anything.

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Luckily, when the G-force stops,

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blood returns to your eyes and you'll be able to see again.

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The centrifuge is now at 6 G.

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Starting to get some very slight symptoms around my peripheral vision

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and the external lights are very odd.

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So we know, if the blood pressure at the level of his eye

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falls below about 20, that's when your vision starts to go.

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That's when you're about to collapse and faint.

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This is an incredible amount of force!

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6 G is a massive amount of G-force for the average body.

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Tim and Andy's blood pressure is now reaching dangerously low levels

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and they're at a very high risk of blacking out.

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It's time to stop the centrifuge.

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And there we are back to level.

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Wow, it's amazing, when they take the force off you,

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you feel like you can fly.

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So with the first Super Test over, Tim and Andy both got

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to an incredible 6 G without losing the lights.

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Tim's heart rate more than doubled.

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But how did superman Andy do?

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Andy's heart rate stayed pretty stable.

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It's very surprising, it's not what we'd have expected to see

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and it's certainly not what we've seen in Tim.

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How does he do it?

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Andy's heart is much stronger than a normal person's heart.

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Your heart is a muscle and, when it squeezes tightly, it forces blood

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into your arteries which carry the blood round your body.

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But even when the G-forces are

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trying to push Andy's blood down to his feet,

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his heart is strong enough to fight the G-forces

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and pump blood all the way up to his head.

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Experiencing G-forces in the centrifuge

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was pretty hard on my body. In some situations,

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people change their position to help reduce the G-forces on them.

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When taking off from the ground, astronauts withstand around 3 Gs.

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They soar into space at 27,000 kilometres per hour.

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To reduce the effects of G-forces, the astronauts lie on their backs,

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changing the direction of the forces on their bodies.

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Lying down makes it easier for their hearts

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to pump blood to their brains, so they don't pass out.

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When the astronauts reach space,

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they stop accelerating and the G-forces stop.

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Day Two, Super-Test Two.

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I've brought you to Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix,

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cos the two of you will be driven around the track at top speeds.

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Going so fast can generate G-force on your body,

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but that'll be increased still further

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when the cars brake or take sudden turns.

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That can be really disorientating,

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and disorientation is what I'm going to be measuring in this test today.

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One lap of this race course is almost six kilometres.

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The track's 18 sharp corners and bends

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will really push Tim and Andy's bodies

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as they are thrown about when the car speeds around the track.

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And we're doing it in which cars?

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These cars might look small,

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but they're built to travel up to an incredible 240 kilometres per hour!

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Dr Megan's team have fitted each car with cameras

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that will record how Tim and Andy react

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as they are whizzed around the race track.

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This special camera will show us what speed each car is travelling

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and the effects of the G-force at different stages of the test.

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And just one more thing...

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I'm going to be getting the two of you to do this blindfolded.

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There's always a catch!

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Well, if we take away your visual cues, your body and your brain

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find it even harder to work out what's going on.

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When you get scared or emotional, your body sweats more

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and I've got a special piece of kit called a GSR sensor and this sensor

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picks that up by an increasing of electrical current across the skin.

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-Are you on for this?

-Always.

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This is quite a tight fit, isn't it?

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I can't see anything.

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Your body has a balance system that tells your brain when you're moving.

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But if you can't see where you're going, your brain gets confused.

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At first, you'll start to feel dizzy and sick.

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Next, your body will get stressed, your heart will beat faster,

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your temperature will rise and you'll start to sweat.

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Eventually, you'll be so disorientated,

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you might throw up.

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Ready? And go!

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Andy will be leading the way in the orange car.

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-HE LAUGHS

-And straight way,

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he seems to be enjoying himself.

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But Tim, in the white car, seems a little more cautious.

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Tim is already feeling the force in his body.

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Tim may be getting the corners right,

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but Andy seems to be focusing on what the car is doing.

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At the bottom centre of the screen is the G-force dial.

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It looks like a target.

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Look how much they're being banged about in these cars!

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The dot in the middle is like their internal organs.

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The sudden change of G-force is really dangerous

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for your heart, lungs, liver and kidneys,

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because it makes them move about in your body.

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And if this happens, they can get bruised and damaged.

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When your organs are being moved about by G-forces,

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your tummy muscles tighten around them to stop them moving so much,

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but you can't do this forever

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and, eventually, your muscles will start to get tired.

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Back in the cars, and Andy seems to know

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exactly what part of the track he's on.

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It's like he's made a mental map of the course after just one lap.

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This means he can prepare his body for the G-force before each corner.

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Tim doesn't have a clue where he is!

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Fantastic, we can already hear the cars coming round.

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Amazingly, Andy is still calm,

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and knows exactly where he is on the track!

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All this movement can make you feel car sick.

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Now this is because your brain takes information from your eyes

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and your inner ears to work out if you're moving or not.

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If you're in a car and you're reading a book,

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sensors in your ears tell your brain that you are moving,

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but your eyes get it wrong and tell your brain

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that you're sitting still, because the book isn't moving.

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These different signals completely confuse your brain.

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Now, some scientists believe

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that your brain thinks you've been poisoned.

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So, in order to get rid of the poison, you need to be sick.

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This is called motion sickness.

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Going at this sort of pace around a track with 18 bends

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would be disorientating enough on its own,

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but having put them in blindfolds,

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the brain's got no idea what's going on.

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Andy's behaving as though he's on a drive to the supermarket.

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But Tim looks like he's had enough. It's time to bring in the cars.

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It's amazing! Andy's mental map of the course

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means he knows they're pulling into the pits.

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But Tim's taken a little bit longer to work out what's going on.

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With Super-Test Two over,

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Dr Megan is keen to find out the results from the stress sensors.

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-Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

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We were looking at the sweatiness to give us an indication

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of how disorientated and stressed your bodies were.

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For the first lap, you were both getting quite sweaty,

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but then Andy managed in his mind

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to work out what was happening and where he was going.

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And his graph becomes a flat line.

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He was as cool as a cucumber throughout.

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You, on the other hand, Tim, your graph's all over the place

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showing me you were getting more and more disorientated

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and more and more sweaty.

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The G-forces our bodies experienced during Super-Test Two are nothing

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compared to the immense G-forces created by a high-speed car crash.

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In 1977, racing driver David Purley was competing

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in the Silverstone Grand Prix. But while driving at top speeds,

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he lost control of his car and crashed into a wall.

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In the crash, he decelerated from 108 mph to zero

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in the space of only 66 cm! That's not even the length of my arm!

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This produced one of the highest G-forces ever to be survived -

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a whopping 179.8 Gs!

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David broke his legs, pelvis and ribs,

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but amazingly, he was back in racing cars only two years later.

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For our third and final test, I've brought you to the airfield

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-where Andy keeps his stunt plane.

-Oh, good(!)

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In order to train his body and get used to his G-force techniques,

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he takes his plane up on a regular basis

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and performs some pretty incredible manoeuvres.

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Just one of the tricks Andy does in this

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can take your body up to 8 Gs of force.

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That can significantly affect your blood pressure and brain function.

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-You up for being Andy's passenger, Tim?

-Yes.

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Well, Andy's going to do three of his stunts for us today.

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For the first one, he's going to fly up to about 2,000 feet.

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-That's about 610 metres.

-Indeed.

-And he's going to do a barrel roll.

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Next up, a loop the loop, and, finally -

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and this one sounds like a terrible stomach churner -

0:19:140:19:16

he's going to do a corkscrew spiral nose dive.

0:19:160:19:20

Sounds terrible! So we're going down towards the earth in the plane,

0:19:200:19:23

-and we're going like that?

-Absolutely.

0:19:230:19:25

And we'll gradually tighten that spiral dive,

0:19:250:19:28

so the G gets higher and higher and higher,

0:19:280:19:30

to let you experience the rising level of G

0:19:300:19:32

until either you say you've had enough

0:19:320:19:33

or I'm the only conscious one in the aeroplane and then we'll pull out.

0:19:330:19:37

-Great(!)

-And I'll be watching you very closely.

0:19:370:19:39

If that starts to happen to you,

0:19:390:19:41

I'll stop straight away and you'll recover.

0:19:410:19:43

The downside is, you will feel rubbish for the rest of the day.

0:19:430:19:45

-Right.

-Throughout the test,

0:19:450:19:47

I'll monitor your heart rate and blood pressure

0:19:470:19:50

and I'll be asking questions to check on your brain function.

0:19:500:19:53

And, don't worry, just to give you a chance, I'll make 'em pretty easy.

0:19:530:19:56

So now it's a quiz night as well as an aerobatics display?

0:19:560:19:58

That's not making it easier!

0:19:580:20:00

And possibly giving your lunch a second appearance.

0:20:000:20:02

The team have set up four cameras inside the cockpit

0:20:040:20:08

to let us see exactly what Tim is about to go through.

0:20:080:20:10

But one camera on the wing has a story to tell.

0:20:120:20:15

OK, so, er, just to help us, it's now slightly raining.

0:20:160:20:21

It was really good weather before and now we've got a bit of rain.

0:20:210:20:24

Is that going to affect anything?

0:20:240:20:25

Well, fortunately, I'm quite well trained in this,

0:20:250:20:28

you and I can be very brave,

0:20:280:20:29

-and we'll go flying in the rain anyway.

-OK!

0:20:290:20:31

Oh...OK.

0:20:330:20:35

It's important that Tim is strapped in nice and tight.

0:20:350:20:39

-OK.

-OK, comfy?

-No!

-Good.

0:20:390:20:42

So we've got the sick bags both sides just in case you need them.

0:20:420:20:45

Don't worry, you'll be fine.

0:20:470:20:48

Now that Tim's happy he's not going to fall out mid-flight,

0:20:510:20:55

it's time to go.

0:20:550:20:56

Andy eases Tim into the flight with one or two sudden turns.

0:21:190:21:23

Tim may only be pulling 4 Gs, but it does look a lot worse.

0:21:340:21:38

This is incredible, what they're doing up there.

0:21:380:21:40

The pressure on your body is making me feel a bit sick

0:21:400:21:44

just even thinking about it.

0:21:440:21:45

These barrel rolls are upping the G-force on Tim and Andy to 5 Gs.

0:21:510:21:56

So when you spin around,

0:21:590:22:00

we apply G-forces both vertically and horizontally through the body.

0:22:000:22:04

All your organs get shaken about as if they were in like a tumble drier.

0:22:040:22:07

That can make you feel really, really sick.

0:22:070:22:10

Just before Andy and Tim's flight took off,

0:22:120:22:15

I saw someone else come down from a similar flight.

0:22:150:22:17

He was sick all over the place! That's a really typical

0:22:170:22:20

average response to this type of pressure on your body.

0:22:200:22:23

It's amazing that neither of the two of them have done that.

0:22:230:22:26

As Andy goes into a loop the loop,

0:22:270:22:29

it seems Tim isn't as scared as we expected.

0:22:290:22:32

When Tim first went up, he looked really frightened.

0:22:370:22:40

Now he looks like he's having a really good, fun time.

0:22:400:22:42

That's the adrenalin surge that happens when you're exposed

0:22:420:22:45

to something scary, which can give you a bit of excitement.

0:22:450:22:48

Flipping over, it must be making him feel really sick!

0:22:560:22:59

Tim? Tim, how are you feeling?

0:22:590:23:02

OK, but, Tim, how are you physically feeling?

0:23:080:23:11

Wow!

0:23:210:23:22

So, Tim, that's because of all the G-force,

0:23:220:23:25

all of these manoeuvres that Andy's plane's doing.

0:23:250:23:27

Do you think you can cope with it?

0:23:270:23:29

Wow!

0:23:430:23:44

Tim, I want to check how your brain is managing

0:23:490:23:51

with all these G-forces going through you,

0:23:510:23:54

-so I'm going to ask you some questions, is that OK?

-OK.

0:23:540:23:57

3 + 2 + 2 - 4.

0:23:570:24:03

Well done, that's correct.

0:24:070:24:09

We're going to make it a little bit harder now, Tim.

0:24:090:24:12

5 + 2 + 2 - 4.

0:24:120:24:17

5 + 2 + 2 - 4.

0:24:200:24:25

Tim seems to be struggling with this one.

0:24:260:24:29

Well done, Tim. One more for you, OK?

0:24:330:24:36

6 + 3 - 7 + 4.

0:24:360:24:41

Good try, Tim.

0:24:450:24:46

He got that quite wrong. The answer's six and Tim said three.

0:24:460:24:50

It seems that the forces from this flight

0:24:510:24:53

are making it harder for Tim to think straight.

0:24:530:24:56

Andy, if it's OK, I'd like to ask you some questions too?

0:25:290:25:32

OK, 5 + 4 - 7 + 4.

0:25:340:25:38

OK, well done, try another one.

0:25:400:25:42

4 + 4 - 3 - 2?

0:25:420:25:45

He's so quick, I barely caught the answer. ..But yes, well done, Andy.

0:25:470:25:51

Andy's training has certainly paid off. He's spot on.

0:25:530:25:57

After a few more stomach-churning rolls and turns...

0:26:360:26:39

Aa-a-argh!

0:26:390:26:41

..it's time to come back to base.

0:26:410:26:43

I came out here looking for a superhuman!

0:27:040:27:07

I have definitely found one!

0:27:070:27:08

A real live Superman!

0:27:100:27:12

A man who can defy the forces of gravity.

0:27:120:27:16

Andy Green, you are Super Human!

0:27:160:27:20

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:300:27:34

Tim Fitzhigham meets the humans who defy science and puts their powers to the test - against himself. Tim meets Andy Green, holder of the world land-speed record, a man who can endure powerful g-forces while driving cars faster than speeding bullets, and who can perform stomach-churning stunts in the air! But does Andy's extraordinary ability to withstand g-force make him a real-life Superman? Tim challenges Andy to three super tests in order to prove, or disprove, these supersonic, superhuman powers.

Can Tim survive a head-spinning centrifuge, a drive around Silverstone racetrack wearing a blindfold or stand a stomach-churning loop-the-loop in a stunt plane? 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.

Is Andy Green a real-life Superman? Be prepared to be amazed by Super Human Challenge!


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