Boiling Point 20th February; Extremeness


Tonight, on Boiling Point, Alex, Chantelle and Tim stopped by the studio to talk about extreme sports and our addiction to witnessing crash and burns in the sporting arena

The Allure of Extreme Sports

Extreme sports are the only sport in the Winter Olympics. While our adrenaline rush comes from watching these dangerous and hearting pounding sports. What drives athletes to become the best in their field in a sport that could kill them? According to research, participating in extreme sports has a positive impact on participants life. The brain releases dopamine, a hormone, after an extreme event. People note feelings of positivism and happiness. Before we assume sporting athletes are dopamine junkies looking for their next natural high. It seems there is more to the picture. Satisfaction, well-being and peace form the basis of researchers understanding of why we participate in extreme sports. Participating in extreme sports reaps personal rewards whereas for others it is about the satisfaction from pulling off complex stunts.

Photo credit to Festoon House
Morbid Curiosity. Do We Have That?

Over the course of the Winter Olympic spectators become winter sport experts. But, behind our premature ‘expert,’ knowledge lies a morbid obsession with brutality. If you find yourself glued to the screen watching an Olympic athlete’s limbs and body flail in the air as they come crashing down or gawk at a car accident as you slowly drive by, you are not alone. We have a morbid fascination with brutality or more accurately a morbid curiosity. Science has the explanations. One explanation is, we feel the adrenaline rush without placing ourselves in harm’s way; however, one paper found people did not watch or witness scenes of brutality for arousal. Instead we view scenes of brutality as a way to acquire information. There are many explanations for our fascination with harm and goriness.

The Power of Extremeness

Extremeness is not limited to human bodies. Extreme adaption and behaviour is seen in organisms. These extreme organisms are providing scientific answers to real world problems, such as exposure to large doses of radiation. The Deinococcus radiodurans survives gamma radiation by producing antioxidants that support protein function to repair DNA. Whereas the water bear or tardigrade, which is microscopic can, once the organism switches off reproduction, withstand extreme heat, cold and radiation. And, wood frogs are freeze tolerant. A wood frog would freeze in two weeks. This remarkable freeze tolerant ability may provide answers on how to successful freeze transplant human organs. It seems extremeness is not limited to athletes.

Want to find out more? Listen to the podcast to hear what Alex, Chantelle and Tim had to say!