From Moon to Mars… what better guide than affable astronaut Tim? ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV
Secrets Of Our Universe
The Truth About The ‘Skinny’ Jab
Astronaut Tim Peake has gazed down to Earth from the International Space Station, so he might have been a little disappointed when Secrets Of Our Universe (Ch5) sent him to explore the mysteries of Saturn from a beach in Cumbria.
Arnside was chosen because it has particularly fast tides, caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon. Once he’d dealt with gravity, Major Tim watched Oxford professor Carly Howett as she drew circles in the sand around a large rock to explain the origin of Saturn’s rings.
Her lesson was dazzling in its simplicity — like watching Blue Peter presented by Professor Brian Cox. Saturn has 145 moons, but used to have one more until it shattered into pieces. The rings were formed by the orbits of other moons, pushing a path through the debris.
For reasons that weren’t quite clear to me, Major Tim’s tour of the planets tackled Venus from a hot-air balloon over York. We learned that, when the Sun was cooler, there was water on Venus. As the Sun warmed, the water disappeared. This was a warning, claimed Major Tim, about the dangers of fossil fuels.
It sounds like the very opposite to me: it shows that the Sun drives temperature change. Unless he was suggesting that Venus used to have a thriving motor industry?
He doesn’t have the academic credentials of Brian Cox, but you can see how the Major managed to spend six months in a cramped space station without annoying anybody. He’s affable and cheerful, and has a good line in colourful but helpful dialogue.
For example, why is Mars red? It’s a combination of the planet’s iron content and the water that used to be there. ‘Basically,’ said Major Tim, ‘it went rusty’.
There was good news and bad news for the overweight in The Truth About The ‘Skinny’ Jab (Ch4). Two thirds of us are too fat, but the good news is: it’s not necessarily our fault. ‘There’s a huge biological driver as to why some people eat more than others,’ said geneticist Giles Yeo.
The second bit of good news is that so-called skinny jabs really seem to work. Presenter Anna Richardson met a nurse called Steph who’d lost 12lbs over three months (although they might have undone some of that good work by meeting over two large, high-calorie coffees).
The bad news is… actually there was quite a lot of bad news. The side effects include nausea, severe headaches and constipation. Steph enjoyed a successful trip to the lavatory — to put it politely — just once a week.
And that’s the genuine drugs. Some people get the jabs from social media influencers. Why would you do that? Especially as research for the programme found some black market slimming jabs contained ‘unknown’ ingredients.
The drugs were originally designed to control diabetes, until somebody noticed that patients were losing weight. There is now such a demand for weight-loss cures that there’s a shortage of drugs for the diabetics. ‘I have never experienced in 27 years this sort of hysteria about any medication,’ said a pharmacist.
The government wants more skinny jabs to be available on the NHS, which you might think was good news. But if you’re struggling to see a GP now, imagine the queues when two-thirds of the population decide they’d like to lose a bit of weight the easy way.