Mar 3, 2021 Episode 36
From bricks to clothes – plastic solutions, slug dangles like spider, new Van Gogh painting surfaces, world’s most expensive video and snoring Imam
OPENING STING – LEELA: “Newsy Jacuzzi!”
Hello and welcome to Newsy Jacuzzi – a whirlpool of news and information!
I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.
MAMA: And I’m Lyndee Prickitt.
LEELA: This week on Newsy Jacuzzi…
Good news on the plastic front – oh, yeah, we talk a lot about the world’s plastic problem – but this week we’re featuring some super solutions!
From the major drink company that’s going to let you “taste the feeling” of paper bottles…
And the folks turning plastic waste into… bricks and roads.
And if plastic news isn’t your thing – an Australian slug has been filmed dangling in midair… but you’ll never guess how it got there!
We also have the story of the girl who collected thousands of second-hand shoes for people living rough on the streets…
The discovery of a Van Gogh painting AND the crazy price a piece of video art fetched recently…
And finally, any ideas what this might be?
SFX of snoring Imam
Stay tuned and we’ll tell you all!
But first it’s time for…
BIG NEWS STORY STING – LEELA: “The big news story of the week!”
MAMA: We’ve talked a lot about plastic piling up all over the world. In landfills in just about every country on earth –
LEELA: and swirling in the oceans.
MAMA: Whole pieces of toys and bottles and tiny microscopic bits in our water, being eaten by our fish.
Did you know that just since your grandparents have been alive, since the 1950s, the world has created 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste?
LEELA: That sounds big?!
MAMA: Yeah, well then imagine about 12-and-a-half thousand massive skyscrapers – the size of the Burj Khalifa – full of plastic waste!
LEELA: Oh, man.
MAMA: And almost all of that – 91% – has never been recycled, according to a study published in the journal Science.
LEELA: But… it’s not all bad news, is it?
MAMA: Nope. Today we’re going to think positive and discuss the clever solutions to the problem of plastic pollution. For a start there are a many natural substitutes for plastic being created.
MAMA: And even additives, or special ingredients added to the plastic mixture, that help turn regular plastics into harmless bio-wax.
LEELA: And now Coco Cola – which produces a LOT of single use plastic – is experimenting with paper bottles. OK, not for its famous, fizzy cola, but a fruit drink called Adez.
MAMA: It’ll use a single sheet of specially pressed paper, but… with a thin plastic lining inside and the cap’s made from plastic too – but recycled plastic.
LEELA: Go, Coke!
MAMA: And they’re not the only ones. Several adult beverage companies, including Carlsberg and Absolut, and even the make-up giant LÓreal are also testing out paper bottles.
LEELA: But… what do we do with all the plastic that’s still around, you ask?
MAMA: A clever solution is coming from Kenya.
LEELA: That means we should go to Janki Shah, our very own correspondent from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
JANKI: Nzambi Matee was sick of seeing heaps of plastic mounting up in her hometown, Nairobi.
And we’re not just talking plastic water bottles – but shampoo and milk bottles, plastic dishes and toys, big plastic buckets and small plastic lids.
And let’s not forget, of course, about all plastic bags.
They fly all over the place and end up in the gutters, eventually clogging our drains and, when it rains, causing – you guessed it – unnecessary floods.
Luckily for us Nzambi didn’t just sit by sadly and watch the plastic hills become mountains.
Nzambi – who’s materials engineer who also studied biochemistry – decided to do something about it.
She said most of the plastic in Kenya can’t be recycled.
So… why not turn a negative into a positive, right?
If it can’t easily biodegrade, or breakdown, that means it’s super durable and will last for decades, right?
That’s why Nzambi decided to turn plastic waste into… plastic bricks!
She developed equipment that: mixes the plastic with sand, heats it up and then compresses it – that means press it down harder and harder – into bricks.
And not just any brick.
She reckons her plastic bricks are five to seven times stronger than ordinary concrete bricks!
Her company, Gjenge Makers, has recycled 20 tonnes of plastic waste since it started over three years ago.
And if you want to know how much that is – imagine so much plastic pressed down to be the weight of three Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs!
In other words, it’s impressive!
In Nairobi I’m Janki Shah reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Impressive indeed! Thanks, Janki. Wow – some people are so creative.
MAMA: Seriously. And it doesn’t stop there. Here in India over TWENTY years ago a chemistry professor, Dr. Rajagopalan Vasudevan developed a way to turn plastic waste into a material that replaces the asphalt, or bitumen, used in roads. Not only did that make roads cheaper – asphalt is expensive – but it made use of plastic waste that – as we heard in Kenya – is excellent at binding things together. The technology has been used to pave over 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) of roads in India.
LEELA: Mark up another one for India!
MAMA: He’s inspired a whole generation of innovators too. In fact a company in California called TechniSoil is preparing to test a stretch of highway used with…
LEELA: Plastic waste!
MAMA: Bingo! They’ve already paved a busy intersection in downtown LA, but now they’re going the distance…
LEELA: And aren’t there some homes built of plastic too?
MAMA: Good question. A house in the Indian state of Karnataka and a whole resort in the Andaman Islands are built from plastic waste. And now even clothing and prosthetic – or fake limbs for people who’ve lost an arm or a leg – are being produced from plastic waste.
LEELA: We humans are pretty clever!
MAMA: We are. But even those of us who aren’t inventors can do our bit.
LEELA: Yeah: stop using single-use plastic!
LEELA: And – didn’t we promise to do something else…?
MAMA: Yes! As we’ve discussed before, every time our polyester or nylon clothes are washed, tiny microplastics leach into our water. We promised to look into a way of trapping these microplastics with a filter in our washing machine. And we have… See – it’s a bag, we fill it with our synthetic clothes, turn on the washing machine…
SFX OF WASHING MACHINE
MAMA: And – when you take out your clothes – viola’ – the bag has trapped the microplastic bits, so they don’t flush out into the sewage and, eventually, our rivers and oceans.
LEELA: But where do we put the bits that the bag catches?
MAMA: That’s the snag. In theory you’re meant to put them in a plastic bottle, which will get recycled – but that means you have to find a proper plastic recycling center that actually does the job.
LEELA: Still, it’s a step in the right direction.
MAMA: Yeah, really, the answer is to stop producing and buying so much non-biodegradable plastic in the first place.
LEELA: Now it’s time for some nature news or should I say…
SCIENCE STING – LEELA: “The world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!”
MAMA: Is it a slug? Or is it a spider? Or is it a spider-slug?
LEELA: Is this the start of a joke?
MAMA: Well, you’d think so… But it’s for real. A slug that’s dangling from the air by – what appears to be – a thread of its own slime…
LEELA: Oh, gross!
MAMA: I know. No one knew this was even possible! The new move was discovered and caught on film by an ecologist – that’s someone who studies the relationships between organisms and their environments – at the University of Newcastle in Australia, who was meant to be focusing on frogs.
So unlike a spider that lowers itself down bit-by-bit on threads of its own fine silk, Australia’s striped field slug seems to use its slimy mucus, dropping it forward, ahead of its body, and then seems to be sliding down the mucus thread.
MAMA: Well, for those not grossed out, we’ll put a link to this remarkable video on our Facebook Community page. So go check it out! And by the way – did you know slugs are able to vertically flatten its body and elongate it 20 times its normal length, when it needs to enter tiny holes? Impressive or what?
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.”
MAMA: The single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) coronavirus vaccine has just got the green-light in the US with regulators giving their approval. The vaccine is set to be a cost-effective alternative and can be stored in a refrigerator instead of a freezer.
Speaking of vaccines… scientists in the UK say a spray or pill version could be developed to help children get vaccinated. Yay – no shots! But… it’ll probably take a couple years to develop.
A sailor who fell off a cargo ship in the South Pacific survived by clinging to a “piece of sea rubbish”. The man from Lithuania, who wasn’t wearing a life jacket, decided to swim to a “black dot” he saw in the distance. Good thing – it turned out to be an old ring buoy, which he held onto for 14 hours.
OK, space buffs, turns out the Mars rover’s parachute was carrying a secret message when it landed.
Engineers used the computer language known as binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the parachute.
And baa-baa Aussie sheep – have you any wool? Yes, sir, yes, ma’am – 35 kilograms full. What? Well, a lost sheep was found wandering in an Australian forests who hadn’t had a haircut in years, making him look hilariously unrecognizable. Luckily, he was saved, given a trim and a new name – Baa-rak.
KINDESS CORNER STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Kindness corner. Cool. They did what? Seriously? What? How cool is that! No way! Cool.”
LEELA: Thanks for that wrap of what’s happening elsewhere in the world… And it’s time for the….
KINDESS CORNER STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Kindness corner. Cool. They did what? Seriously? What? How cool is that! No way! Cool.”
LEELA: That’s right. We all do good deeds occasionally. And when it comes to our old clothes –
MAMA: It’s nice to find a good home for them. If they’re still wearable but just no longer wearable to us!
LEELA: Yep. Especially growing kids like me. I’ve probably given away 15 or 20 pairs of shoes already in my short life.
MAMA: A least.
LEELA: Well, imagine giving away 30,000 pairs of shoes!
MAMA: Who has that many shoes? That’s just wrong.
LEELA: That’s the point – it wasn’t Lindsay Sobel’s own shoes that she gave away to homeless people… You see, she was so upset when she saw so many people on the streets in Los Angeles without shoes, that she decided to do something about it – she rounded up all her friends and family, and their friends and family, to donate their old shoes! 30,000 pairs!
MAMA: Wow. That IS epic. That’s not just doing a kind thing for someone in need – but mobilizing an army of people to step up and help. Seriously impressive.
LEELA: She calls it Shoes for Soles – as in the sole of your feet. But I think Lindsay is helping the homeless with the soles of their feet and those giving get a boost to their soooooul. Get it?
MAMA: Oh, yaa!
ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.”
MAMA: Now, most people have heard of the famous French painter, Vincent Van Gogh or Van Goph as the Europeans say. In fact, a lot of school kids have probably painted their own version of his “Sunflowers” painting, right?
LEELA: I certainly have – and “Starry Night!” Which you have hanging in your office, Mama.
MAMA: Sure do. Yours – not Van Gogh’s! Well, get ready to add another flower to your bouquet, because another Van Gogh painting has surfaced… It’s called “A Street Scene In Montmartre” – which is now a bustling, artsy neighborhood in Paris but –
LEELA: It was once practically the countryside when Van Gogh painted it! But, why is it only being seen now?
MAMA: Because it’s been owned by a French family for most of the time since it was painted in 1887.
LEELA: Ahhh… But, be warned – it doesn’t have the same color and brightness of his most famous paintings.
MAMA: True. But because it’s by one of the most famous painters the world has ever known – it’s still expected to fetch nearly $10 million. And while we’re on the subject art – guess how much a 10 second video clip created by a video artist just sold for?
LEELA: Video art – what does that mean?
MAMA: $6.6 million dollars! And it’s a clip – of what appears to be a giant Donald Trump collapsed on the ground, which anyone can see on the internet.
LEELA: Then why pay for it at all if you can see it for free?
MAMA: Good question. Because the person is paying for the original clip, which the artist – called Beeple – spent hours, if not weeks, crafting. The original digital creation, from his computer, has been authenticated – that means proven to be the his – by something called Block Chain, which certifies that it is the original work. It’s a new thing known as a non-functional token, or NFT.
LEELA: Ahhh, OK…. Well! Maybe someday, somebody, will want the original from your computer, the NFT, of Newsy Jacuzzi, then, ehh?
MAMA: Yeah… not sure there’s the need for that just, but, hey.
LEELA: OK, then, let’s head over to the lucky dip machine and see what wonders it’s going to bring our way…
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? And odd ball, no doubt!”
LEELA: Odd sound more like. OK, folks, have a listen to this…
SOUND OF SNORING IMAM
LEELA: (laughs) Got any ideas what that might be?
MAMA: Ummmm… a dying animal?
MAMA: An alive but very big and grumpy animal?
MAMA: A wooly mammoth?
LEELA: Nooo – they went extinct a long time ago. You know that.
MAMA: Well… a cartoon version of a wooly mammoth? OK. A sleeping elephant!
LEELA: You’re getting a litttttttle warmer.
LEELA: It’s OK, you’ll never guess. But a neighborhood in one Indian town know exactly what it is… Now they do, anyway, because this sleepy sound was being blasted out of loud speakers… From the pulpit you might say.
MAMA: Oh…. I know what this is…
LEELA: You see mosques in India, and in many parts of the Islamic world, have those beautiful towers, called minarets, from which the elders of the mosque sing their prayers.
MAMA: Or deliver sermons. And, today, thanks to technology – they have microphones and speakers to help them…
LEELA: Well, this tired maulvi, or preacher, fell asleep… forgetting his mic was on! To the giggling delight of others in the mosque who decided to record his masterpiece.
MAMA: Leela… don’t ever forget to turn the mic off. In fact, turn it off now, will ya? I’m feeling veeeeery sleeeeepy…
FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”
FAB FACT NUMBER 1:
Plastic is a big problem. Just how big?
According to 2017 study published in the journal Science, since the 1950s the world has created 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste, which is about the size of 12-and-a-half thousand massive skyscrapers – as big as Burj Khalifa!
FAB FACT NUMBER 2:
The problem is most plastic can’t be easily and efficiently recycled. How much of that 6.3 billion tonnes plastic waste hasn’t been recycled?
Almost all of it – 91% in fact – has never been recycled.
FAB FACT NUMBER 3:
An ecologist in Australia caught on video a slug that appeared to be sliding down a thread of its own slimy mucus, as if it were a spider. But do you remember what an ecologist is?
An ecologist is someone who studies the relationships between organisms and their environments. This one was meant to be studying frogs when the “spider slug” caught his eye.
FAB FACT NUMBER 4: Slugs are impressively able to flatten their bodies in order to get into a tiny holes? But by how much?
Slugs can vertically flatten out their body 20 times their normal length when they need to.
FAB FACT NUMBER 5: A piece of video art – that can be seen by anyone online – was recently bought for $6.6 million dollars – using what technology to authenticate the buyer was purchasing the original piece?
Block Chain certifies that the 11 second clip by artist Beeple was indeed the original work, granting it a new a non-functional token, otherwise known as NFT.
LEELA: And that ALMOST brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Jacuzzi!!!!! Except we gotta share some great news…
MAMA: Newsy Jacuzzi has made it to the big leagues!
LEELA: We were in the New York Times!
MAMA: Well, you were – quoted twice in fact! And listed as an “expert” kid podcaster.
LEELA: Newsy Jacuzzi was.
MAMA: Same thing! And we were also given a new tagline. Forget about us just being a whirlpool of news and information – the New York Times thinks of us as “a news variety show.” Have to say I never thought about us that way, but I confess…. I quite like it!
LEELA: If you want to know more – check it all out on our website newsyjacuzzi.com or go to our Facebook community page.
And if you enjoyed this dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information… then do subscribe to our podcast on… Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
While you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review!
See you next week in the Newsy Jacuzzi!