The first episode in the Outside Podcast "Science of Survival" series is a dramatic audio re-creation of the classic Peter Stark feature on hypothermia. It puts the listener through the harrowing experience of a series of plausible mishaps on a bitterly cold night: a car accident on a lonely stretch of road, a broken ski binding that foils a backcountry escape, a disorienting tumble in the snow, and a slow descent into hypothermia and delirium before (spoiler alert!) a dramatic rescue. "I started thinking about how one little mistake leads to another and another in an accumulation of mistakes that leads to an untenable situation," says Stark.
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"Frozen Alive" is a relentlessly fascinating and accurate description of our physiological response to extreme cold. People are unaware of how exposed they are if they don’t have a warm place to seek shelter, explains Stark, so they don’t realize how quickly they can wind up in serious trouble. "I think anyone who’s been in extreme cold has respect for the cold," he says. "But this gave me much deeper respect for it, understanding how the human body changes as one chills down."
The “Science of Survival” is a joint project of Outside and PRX. Support for the series comes from the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation and its commitment to storytelling around STEM issues.