The Science Show What on Earth? has recently aired a promo for an episode on ‘Ram Setu’ where ‘experts’ suggested that that the rocks of the Setu are older than the sand on which they rest. In a report, Hindustan Times mentioned that “the Indian Council of Historical Research had announced in March, that it would conduct underwater studies to answer this very question. This also evoked a response from Union Minister Smriti Irani. She wrote “Jai Shree Ram” in Devanagri script with a retweet of the promo video. A report was expected in November, but archaeologist and former ASI director Alok Tripathi, who submitted the proposal, said that the work was “yet to begin.” This begs the question, what on earth is the show What on Earth? about?
The show What on Earth? has some of the most entertaining viewer reviews, possibly more entertaining than most of the shows which air on ‘Science Channel’. The reviews on IMDb have the following taglines, “Horrid”, “The Laziest Science Series Ever...”, “Pseudo-science for Bored Conspiracy Buffs”, “Television for the gullible”, “Mindless drivel”, and a more direct response “It's crap!”.
Given the reviews the show has received, it would be safe to assume that the explanation in case of the Ram Setu is a simple mundane one. Sand is always younger than the rocks as it is constantly renewed through ocean currents depositing new sand on existing landforms. The rocks are not affected by the movement of ocean currents, other than erosion, and hence they seem older than the sand.
One reviewer summarised the premise for the show as, “Satellite photos and video show an enormous 3,000-mile wide shadow moving across the planet! What on earth could it be?!?”
The speculations are mind boggling. “Is it secret gov't technology deployed into space to cool a too-warm earth? We don't have the capability, according to our scientists?”
These speculations then continue towards the mildly insane. “How about a huge insect swarm? The largest swarm ever documented covered about 75 square miles. This shadow is way bigger and moving at 2,000 miles per hour! Are insects that fast? Let's check with our scientists!”
Then they return to conspiracy theories. “OK, insects are out. So maybe the shadow was caused a huge alien ship like the one in Independence Day? And the gov't is covering it up? Let's ask our scientists if it is possible to hide an alien spacecraft the size of Australia.”
The final conclusion is notable as it is the most ordinary explanation, and the only explanation backed by facts. “Oh my, what else could it be? How are we going to figure this out? Should we consult NASA since they provided the satellite data? OK, let's ask 'em during the commercial break! ... OK, we're back and, OMG, NASA claims the shadow is caused by THE MOON? Are they sure? Eclipses are completely predictable?”
The review titled 'Television for the gullible' summarized the show in a quick manner, “There are some TV shows that make you want to put your fist through the screen and this is one of them”. The review goes on to say, “take some normal satellite images of unusual shapes and colours on the face of the Earth, add lots of zoom-swish sound effect … breathlessly amazed commentary by a bunch of "experts" and then imagine every half-baked wild-eyed mystery theory you can think of before you finally reveal the perfectly logical explanation that a whole bunch of locals knew about all along.” The review adds that “only the truly gullible would fall for this kind of tripe”.