Mar 17, 2021 Episode 38
Water and solar powered planes, instruments made from ice, Afghan girls singing ban lifted, lost walrus and self-beheading snail
Some links of items covered on our show…
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Jacuzzi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to the news variety show known as none other than… Newsy Jacuzzi – a whirlpool of news and information! I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And joining me is…
MAMA: I’m Lyndee Prickitt.
LEELA: We’re taking to the skies this week on Newsy Jacuzzi, as we discover the many wonderful ways innovators are creating cleaner airplanes – from the sun above to a little bit of this…
SFX – WATER SPLASH
The power sources of clean planes will amaze you.
And if that doesn’t lift you up, we’ll give you an uplifting story about the Afghan girls who defied a ban on their singing.
Speaking of music, you’ll never guess what’s making this cool sound.
And finally it’s been a wacky week for the animal kingdom – from the man who befriended a usually annoying animal, to the Arctic walrus whose iceberg ended up far from home. And the sea-slug that goes to severe measures – or should I say, severing measures – to get rid of parasites infecting its body.
So let’s dive on in to the bubbling Newsy Jacuzzi.
First up is…
BIG NEWS STORY STING – LEELA: “The big news story of the week!”
MAMA: So we talked at the beginning of the year about how electric vehicles were about to have their moment with more and more people buying EVs than ever before.
LEELA: In an effort to drive around in a cleaner way.
SFX TESLA EV
MAMA: That’s right. But what can we do about travelling across the world –
LEELA: As in flying.
SFX OF PLANE
MAMA: In a cleaner way. Air travel is fast and convenient –
LEELA: Beats going by boat. If you’re travelling from India to England or England to America anyway!
MAMA: Sure does. But it’s not very good for the environment. Especially with more and more of us taking to the skies.
LEELA: So why don’t airlines look at using electric batteries, like the EVs use?
MAMA: Well, they are. But there are drawbacks. See, right now the batteries are heaaaaaavy. An EV battery weighs roughly half a ton. That’s the weight of a piano.
And that’s to run a single car. Imagine how much a small plane would need, never mind a big passenger plane.
LEELA: It wouldn’t even be able to get off the ground!
MAMA: Right. So developers are looking at other methods and fuels. Like hydrogen.
MAMA: And where do we find hydrogen… but in water!
MAMA: Right – two hydrogen atoms bonded to an one oxygen atom is what makes a water molecule.
LEELA: Wait. You mean it can power planes?!?!?
MAMA: Yes… And not just water, but the sun too!
LEELA: The sun?! Well, I guess – come to think about it – there’s a lot of solar power up in the sky.
MAMA: That’s right. And, according to our aviation correspondent, Maya Bull, some clever folks even used solar power to take a flight around the world.
LEELA: Whoaaaa. Tell us more, Maya!
MAYA: Thanks, Leela.
Almost five years ago the “Solar Impulse 2” went around the world.
It was a single-seater plane, with massively long wings covered in solar panels.
It was the sun’s energy that was powering it to fly!
Then in 2019 the world’s first fully-electric six-passenger plane took off in Canada.
Another company, ZeroAvia, took to the skies here in England, in a similar battery-electric aircraft last year.
But as you said, if you want to fly for a long time and in a bigger plane that can take a lot of passengers, right now the batteries are just too heavy for that.
So the same company, ZeroAvia, designed and recently flew 19 miles in a six-seater plane powered by water!
Well, the hydrogen part of water – the H in H2O.
Hydrogen has lots going for it, doesn’t it Leela?
LEELA: Yes, ma’am. I’ve been consulting my encyclopaedia and here’s what I’ve found:
Hydrogen is very abundant (that means hydrogen is found almost everywhere on earth).
It’s also one of the lightest elements in the world.
And, that means it can pack three times the energy of fossil fuels without emitting any dirty greenhouse gases.
It just emits water vapor.
How cool is that?
But it’s not all pie in the sky…
Hydrogen is really hard to extract, or pull, out from water and… it’s pretty hard to store too.
That’s right, Leela.
It’s being used for more than just planes.
Over in Europe, in Austria, they’ve developed a hydrogen train and here in the U.K., in London, we have hydrogen buses.
In fact, the British government is such a fan of hydrogen fuel, it’s giving ZeroAvia over three million dollars to develop bigger hydrogen-powered planes in England.
At the end of this year the company hopes to test the technology on a flight that will go over 300 miles.
Wow or what?!
In Nottingham, I’m Maya Bull, reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Thanks a lot for that report, Maya!
MAMA: That’s not all folks! Aviation innovations are happening right here in India too.
LEELA: Why am I not surprised.
MAMA: And even less surprising is it’s a start-up associated with the highly acclaimed IIT, the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras.
LEELA: Home of the super smart people!
MAMA: Indeed. So we’ve established that planes using electric batteries can’t go too far or be too big – but what if that’s an advantage?
LEELA: Oh… Like in crowded places… Like India!
MAMA: Yes, like getting from an airport on the outskirts of a city into downtown. Here to tell us more about this is…
LEELA: Yuvraj Sahni, who’s ready for take off!
YUVRAJ: That’s right, Leela. But the question is…
Will it be a plane?
Or will it be a drone?
Actually, it’s a little bit of both!
The ePlane Company from Madras, India, is developing an aircraft that will hit the “sweet-spot” between floating like a drone and flying like a plane.
They’re developing a two-seater e-plane which will have both: wings AND rotors*.
The rotors, like a helicopter uses, will be used just for take-offs and landings from rooftops or parking lots.
While the wings will be used for flying fast.
But the aircraft will be only for short flights – going from one side of a crowded city… to the other.
It’s still in development.
But a small prototype is set for a trial flight in the next few months.
So keep your eyes to the sky!
In New Delhi, I’m Yuvraj Sahni reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Thanks a lot, Yuvraj. Wonder when we’ll be able to take one of the flying-car taxis.
MAMA: Well, we reported a few weeks ago that America gave the green light for flying cars, but India has yet to do so. So watch this space.
LEELA: You mean, watch the skies!
MAMA: Ha – yes!
LEELA: And we have more “up-lifting” news, don’t we?
LEELA: Thanks a lot, Yuvraj. Wonder when we’ll be able to take one of the flying-car taxis?
MAMA: Well, we reported a few weeks ago that the US gave one flying car a certificate of airworthiness, but India has yet to do so. So watch this space.
LEELA: You mean, watch the skies!
MAMA: Ha – yes!
LEELA: And we have more “up-lifting” news, don’t we? Have a listen to this…
MUSIC FROM #IamMySong
MAMA: That’s one of the many pieces of music that took social media by storm after girls in the country of Afghanistan over the age of 12 were told they couldn’t sing in public.
LEELA: What? What’s that about!
MAMA: Well, Afghanistan, which is near us here in India, was ruled by an ultra conservative and super strict party called the Taliban, which stripped away many human rights, including banning girls from education.
LEELA: Then what did they do all day?
MAMA: Stayed at home.
LEELA: Like the lockdown. But always.
MAMA: Pretty much. Even most music was banned under their rule.
LEELA: For everyone?
MAMA: Yeah. They lost power twenty years ago, but they’ve pretty much been fighting for control ever since. And now the current Afghan government is in peace talks with the Taliban. So when this ban was issued in the capital, Kabul, last week – everyone got worried that things were sliding backwards…
LEELA: Uh oh…
MAMA: Well, that’s where social media did its thing – with loads of girls and women posting music as part of a campaign, #IamMySong.
MAMA: And we’re happy to report, that magic of music, and social media, had an effect and the ban has been lifted – for now anyway.
LEELA: Yes! Sing it, girls! Turn it up, Mama!
WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”
People in the Chinese capital of Beijing were choking on sand and dust, as a sandstorm swept over the city, turning skies hazy, to an eerie shade of orange. Visibility was so bad drivers had to turn on their headlights in the middle of the day. Sandstorms aren’t uncommon in China, but this was the biggest in nearly a decade
Staying in China, the fossil of a theropod dinosaur sitting on a nest of eggs – with fossilised babies inside – has been unearthed. Theropods are those meat-eating dinosaurs that walk on two feet, with long tails. This discovery is the first of its kind, shedding light on how the creatures hatched their young.
“Dora, bring me a pizza, please.” Yes, Sweden is joining the race for self-driving delivery vehicles with Dora the droid. Demand for contactless deliveries has shot up since the pandemic. Aside from take-away food, the company foodora also delivers books, technology and beauty products.
And get ready – on Sunday, March 21, this year’s largest and fastest-known asteroid is gonna fly past earth. The space rock is estimated to be between about half a mile to 1 mile in diameter and will zip past Earth at a staggering speed of nearly 77-thousand miles per hour. That’s about 100 times faster than the speed of sound! – in case you were wondering.
LEELA: What a busy week it’s been in the world! Now, for some very chilled-out musicians who are giving new meaning to the words “cool music.”
ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.”
MAMA: A few weeks ago we heard how a Finnish artist created art out of snow –
LEELA: A humungous snow flake made from… yep, snow!
MAMA: Artist have been using snow and ice for ages – usually to create beautiful ice sculptures.
LEELA: That obviously melt when the weather warms up…
MAMA: And that gives them a certain fragile beauty, as in they’re ephemeral.
LEELA: Eeeee…. what?
MAMA: Ephemeral means something that’s lives only for a short period. Like the beauty of a rose or powderiness of fresh snow – they’re ephemeral, you have to enjoy them while they last.
LEELA: Ahhh, like Easter eggs!
MAMA: Ha, yes. And ice sculptures.
LEELA: But that’s not the only thing that’s icy and ephemeral.
MAMA: Oh, no. You won’t believe what some cool musicians are doing with ice.
LEELA: Our correspondent Annika Dølven Misra has this report.
ANNIKA: Just a few days ago there was a very COOL concert that took place in Norway.
And when I say cool – I mean sub-zero temperatures cool!
It was the annual Ice Music Festival that not only takes place in an igloo…
And the instruments are literally made out of ice!
See, this might sound like your average swing beat, but listen carefully and you’ll hear this Ice Music Sweden is a little different.
It’s more chilled, you might say.
At least three days and sometimes weeks are spent carving the instruments.
Some are completely made of ice, like horns and drums.
Others, like guitars and harps, have metal strings attached.
Any kind of music can be played too – from slow classical…
Both creating and playing these icy instruments can be unpredictable.
Because ice is always in motion, you see.
It becomes tricky when the warm bodies of the audience start to melt the instruments!
Or when the horn player’s lips stick to the mouthpiece!
But the musicians say that’s the fun of it!
I’m Annika Dølven Misra reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi
LEELA: Thanks a lot for that “cool” report Annika! And now what an odd week it’s been for animals.
MAMA: Gosh, that’s totally a bucket list concert to see now. Wow. Y’all should go and have a listen to this music – we’ll put links in our episode notes, transcript and on our Facebook page.
ODDBALL STING – LEELA/MAMA/JACKSON: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An odd ball, no doubt!”
LEELA: Odd animals, in fact. What a wacky week it’s been for the animal kingdom – from a friendly raccoon that’s going viral – thanks to the digital magazine, The Dodo – to the walrus that went on a walk-about and, finally, sea-snails that behead themselves. Where shall we begin?
MAMA: Oh, let’s start with the raccoon that rocked up to a house on the edge of a forest to the surprise of the home owner, who didn’t have such a high opinion of the creatures.
LEELA: Which is odd, as they have the coolest faces – with two-toned fur that makes them look like masked-bandits.
MAMA: Quite. But to some they’re pests. But it was the lockdown and this man was a little lonely and… long story short he feeds the raccoon, who naturally comes back for more and so begins their great friendship. All documented on The Dodo – the digital magazine where animal lovers go for their daily fix of cuteness. We’ve already put the link on our Facebook page to the video – which has racked up some 13 million views.
LEELA: And now for the walrus who went on a walk-about, as our Australian listeners would say. Though really it was more of a sleepover that lasted a bit too long…
MAMA: Yes, the whiskered sea creature was spotted by a five-year-old-girl in Ireland. I imagine no one believed her at first.
LEELA: Because walruses should not be in Ireland.
MAMA: No. They’re usually up in the Arctic Ocean. But experts reckon the walrus may have fallen asleep on an iceberg and drifted down to the Irish coast!
LEELA: Talk about missing your stop.
SFX of train/plane announcement bell
MAMA: “This is the end of the line. Please disembark the iceberg.”
LEELA: Unless you want a free ride to Ireland!
MAMA: And finally… what do you do if you have parasites – or teeny-tiny bugs – all over your body?
LEELA: Well, if you’re a certain type of sea snail you behead yourself. Yes. Somehow you magically detach your head from the rest of your infected body. Yeewwwghchk!
MAMA: Yuck, yes, but amazing! According to a study published in the journal, Current Biology, two
species of sea slugs – which are actually quite beautiful in their topaz, orange and black design – can move, eat and – experts believe –might even be able to poo from their severed heads, during the one to three weeks it takes for their bodies to regrow.
LEELA: And, get this: the headless bodies – which include the heart – can live up to a few months, with the heart still beating! Yep, yuck, but amazing.
MAMA: Of course other creatures can regenerate body parts too – from flat worms to lizards and starfish. But to re-grow a whole body from a severed head is making everyone in awe on these sea slugs.
LEELA: Yeah… maybe next time I watch too many cartoons you shouldn’t worry that I’m turning into a slug. They’re not so unimpressive after all, ehh?!
FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”
MAMA – FAB FACT NUMBER 1: To make cleaner planes what else can be used instead of fossil fuels to power the engines?
Electric batteries, solar energy and hydrogen from water are all being developed to power planes.
LEELA – FAB FACT NUMBER 2: Hydrogen is the “H” in H2O. But what are some of the properties of hydrogen?
Hydrogen is very abundant – that means it’s found just about everywhere on earth – and it’s one of the lightest elements in the world.
MAMA – FAB FACT NUMBER 3: Girls over the age of 12 were banned from singing in public in Afghanistan until a social media campaign, #IamMySong, got the ban lifted. Many were worried it might have been the influence of which conservative group?
The Taliban, the ultra conservative parry that ruled over Afghanistan in the 1990s.
LEELA – FAB FACT NUMBER 4: Artist have been using snow and ice for ages – usually to create ephemeral musical instruments. But what is ephemeral?
Ephemeral means something that’s lives only for a short period.
FAB FACT NUMBER 5: Two types of sea-snails have been discovered detaching their heads from their bodies – and then regrowing an entirely new body onto the severed head. While this is highly unusual, other creatures can regenerate body parts too. Can you name a few?
Flat worms, lizards and starfish – to name just a few – can all regenerate parts of their bodies.
MAMA: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special announcement to make.
LEELA: Oh, yes we do…
MAMA: You can now find an interactive quiz of our Five Fab Facts on our website to test how well you were listening… It’s something teachers have been asking us for, for ages. Well, ask and ye shall receive.
LEELA: Go to newsyjacuzzi.com and click on our Lucky Dip Blog page.
MAMA: You’ll find ALL the Fab Facts online quiz there. Go on – test yourself!
LEELA: And before we say goodbye – you might remember it’s Women’s History Month in the US…
MAMA: And we promised to share some podcasts that do a great job highlighting women who’ve changed the world… Well, have you heard of “What Will She do Next” – it’s a musical podcast that does just that. So check it out. And for a complete list – see our Facebook Community page, where we’ve posted the blog about this from our lovely friends at the Kids Listen network.
LEELA: And if you enjoy your dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information. Then do subscribe to our podcast on… Apple Podcast, Spotify, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts.
And while you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review. Only takes a couple minutes and you’ll be helping other listeners find us. Pretty, pretty please? Think of the good karma!
See you next week in the Newsy Jacuzzi!