The Great Sperm Race

Via Dark Roast Blend

A contest with 250 million competitors; only one winner… relentless obstacles, outrageous fatality rate.

Within 30 minutes of ejaculation, over 99 percent of the sperm will be dead or dying. But for those that remain it will be a vicious 14-hour fight to the end, with only one champion!

“Sizing Up Sperm” uses real people to represent 250 million sperm on their marathon quest to be first to reach a single egg!

(all photos credit: Jeremy Benning, National Geographic Channel)

This is a stroke of genius, a killer concept for “A WINNER-TAKE-ALL REALITY TV SHOW”, but wait… this routinely happens in human body, without any fanfare, albeit on much smaller scale.

We’ve received great exclusive images and video content from the National Geographic, and can’t wait to share them with our readers.

Sizing Up Sperm airs on National Geographic Channel this Sunday, March 14 at 9PM ET/PT. Visit the episode’s official site.

In each epic battle, millions of sperm compete while overcoming armies of antibodies, treacherous terrain and impossible odds to reach their single-minded goal.

The locale of the Great Race looks just like our Canadian Rockies playground (where DRB is based), somewhere around Jasper, or Yoho National Park (just saying). And indeed, these are the most epic surroundings:

The “good” sperm armies have to battle the “adversary” armies in massive conflicts:

A team of Leukocytes from the female immune system are sent to kill the sperm in the uterus: Tolkien’s Orc armies will be proud –

The story begins in the testicle — depicted as a building that would be 3,000 feet, more than double the height of the Empire State Building, if the sperm were human-sized. Next it’s a high-speed evacuation from the skyscraper along a 10-mile, ultra-fast water slide to the female, where the constant barrage of threats begin. For the sperm, landing in the female’s vagina is like storming the beaches on D-Day, only facing chemical weapons in the form of a deadly acid attack on the hundreds of millions of invaders.

Below left you see sperm squished in the cervix, and on the right is sperm waiting inside a giant testicle. They are an army of freshly created sperm:

The survivors press on into the cervix high above them. In our people-sized sperm world that would mean climbing a ladder a mile into the sky, a gravity-defying feat that only a few will achieve. Once the heights have been scaled, they reach a cervix Stephen King style. It consists of hundreds of tiny branching tunnels that trap, crush and slowly kill sperm.

Sperm traveling up the secretions to the cervix:

Sperm traveling through the cervix:

Sperm being held in the epididymis:

The Right Stuff! –

From here, the remaining sperm enter the uterus, the equivalent of a two-mile-long field at these proportions. But this picturesque countryside is far from serene. Here the sperm are ambushed by the female’s natural assassins, large white blood cells that dismantle the trespassing sperm. For the tiny fraction left, it’s on to the fallopian tubes, where the egg may be waiting. One last obstacle remains — a freestyle swimming final of Olympic proportions, where the winner gains immortality, and the rest are killed.

Sperm in the fallopian tubes: “getting hot”, or rather, capacitating. Scent signals released during ovulation will make the sperm hyper-active, giving it the ability to actually fertilize the egg – shedding layers of proteins in a process called capacitation:

The few sperm that made it to the fallopian tubes, which is sperm heaven. They receive nutrients and rest in the fallopian tubes:

(all photos credit: Jeremy Benning, National Geographic Channel)

The Great Sperm Race tells the story of human conception as it’s never been told before, as helicopter-mounted cameras, world-renowned scientists, CGI and dramatic reconstruction bring to life the extraordinary journey of sperm, from ejaculation to egg – scaled up to human size, with the sperm played by real people.


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