Podcasts

Epic US verdict, NASA makes history, soccer Super League, spider talk

Apr 21, 2021 Episode 43

Historic police brutality verdict, first flight on Mars, soccer Super League skirmish, spider “talk” translated

Hear why Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict is important for America, how NASA makes space history with the first-ever flight on another planet, soccer’s Super League skirmish and MIT researchers translate spider “talk.”  All that and more on this week’s episode!

And a huge thank you to Yule Liu for her delightful rendition of NASA’s Ingenuity.

Courtroom sketch is Reuters/Jane Rosenberg.

Episode Transcript

00.00

OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Jacuzzi!”

 

THEME MUSIC

 

LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Jacuzzi – a whirlpool of news and information!

 

I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And joining me is my sound effects finder and big-story explainer – otherwise known as my Mama.

 

MAMA: And sometimes called Lyndee Prickitt.

 

LEELA: This is a history-making week – not just in America, but up in space and in the world of soccer.

 

First and foremost – with super-fast speed, the verdict was delivered in the epic trial of the ex-police officer found guilty of murdering George Floyd.

 

Shake-down in soccer – as some of Europe’s biggest football clubs are threatening to break-away and form their own super league.

 

Space history is made with the first-ever flight successfully taking off on another planet – ok, it was only up in the air for 40 seconds, but find out why this is super important.

 

And, you’ll never guess what this is…

 

SFX OF SPIDER SOUNDS

 

Well tune in till the end to find out!

 

But first it’s time for…

 

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

 

 

MAMA: All eyes were on the US this week as the trial of the ex-police officer accused of killing George Floyd last summer in the state of Minnesota came to an end.

 

LEELA:  The jury took just 11 hours in its deliberation – that’s the process of weighing up all the evidence and options and then making a decision.

 

MAMA: This super  fast turn-around surprised everyone.

 

LEELA: Including us!

 

MAMA: But the amazing Madison Smith , of the  All things Madison podcast, in Atlanta, Georgia was standing by and brings us this report.

 

LEELA: Over to you, Madison.

02.16

 

MADISON: Thanks, Leela.

 

Well, today was like no other in my lifetime. It was the long-awaited decision in the murder trial of the former Minnesota policeman, Derek Chauvin  in the death of George Floyd.

 

Now as I’m sure you remember protests around the country erupted last summer after officer Chauvin was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 22 seconds. And, if you saw the video it was hard to watch. Well, the verdicts in.

 

He was convicted of all three charges.

 

US JUDGE PETER CAHILL READING OUT THE JURY’S VERDICT:  “We the jury  find the defendant guilty…”

 

MADISON: I  can personally say I’m relieved to see justice was service.

 

I know black and brown people were holding their breath. Because this trial means a lot when it comes to police reform and how police treat black and brown people.

 

But you know, honestly, I felt sorry for George Floyd too. No one should be treated like that. And it was a horrible thing for his family to go through.

 

I think we’re all hopeful that this is a start in shaping better policing policy and better police accountability too.

 

So going forward making it a better place for us all. For Newsy Jacuzzi I’m Madison Smith reporting from Atlanta.

 

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Madison. It’s super great to get your take on this story.

 

MAMA: Yes, absolutely. And thanks again for the fast turn-around on this important breaking news. Around the United States people are breathing a sigh of relief. Especially as tensions had been growing… As we reported last week, there was another case of a white police officer killing a black man – Daunte Wright – just 11 miles from where Floyd was killed.

 

LEELA: And people have been out protesting ever since.

 

MAMA: This is a tough but important topic and it’s probably a good idea to talk to your grown-ups about what’s happening. As ever we’ll give you the facts in the most clear –

 

LEELA: And gentle.

 

MAMA: – way we can.

 

LEELA: Along with all the other fascinating and wacky news happening in the world – to make sure you’re smiling too! Such as…

 

04.39

 

SCIENCE STING – LEELA: “The world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!”   

 

MAMA: Of course we should talk about the growing number of COVID19 cases here in India.

 

LEELA: Of course we should report that a record 273-thousand people were infected in a single day – including four of our own friends!

 

MAMA: Of course we should talk about the frightening fact that most hospitals in the capital Delhi and down in Mumbai are full to capacity.

 

LEELA: In other words – no beds, no treatment. But I say we’ve given you the facts and we’re done with that. And we can move on to more interesting things.

 

MAMA: Of course we should. Like?

 

LEELA: Like this…

 

SFX OF ROVER LANDING

 

LEELA: Remember when NASA engineers called the landing of the Rover Perseverance on Mars, back in February, “seven minutes of terror” because it took that long for it to land safely?

 

MAMA: Oh, yeah.

 

LEELA: Well, imagine waiting three hours to know if your Martian mission was a success!

 

MAMA: Ouch.

 

LEELA: That’s what just happened with a little-bitty helicopter, or really more like a drone, the size of a cat –

 

SFX OF MEOW

 

LEELA: Called Ingenuity, which just took off into the sky’s of Mars. It might have been just a 40 second trip, but it’s made history! Bahm-bahm-baaahm!

 

MAMA: It might have been a small trip for Ingenuity – but it was a giant leap for humankind!

 

LEELA: That sounds familiar…

 

SFX OF QUOTE

 

MAMA: Because while humans been flying in machines around the earth for over a hundred years, it’s a totally different thing on Mars, where the gravity and air aren’t what we’re used to.

 

LEELA: The atmosphere on Mars is super thin, right?

 

MAMA: Yes, and that means the helicopter rotors had to spin much faster than on Earth –

2,500 rotations per minute, in fact – just to stay up.

 

LEELA: Meanwhile, good old Percy (you know the Perseverance Rover!) then took pictures of Ingenuity (who I like to call “Judy ”) on its flight. And a satellite on Mars beamed that back to Earth, which took three hours.

 

MAMA: So while Ingenuity –

 

LEELA: (Coughs)

 

MAMA: “Judy” – only went three meters high and just for 40 seconds –

 

LEELA: There are more trips planned!

 

MAMA: Yep, not only is this the first time humans have achieved the miracle of flight on another planet, but having succeeded in the first test-flight there will be four more journeys. If they’re successful, then future Mars exploration could include aircrafts.

 

LEELA: So these flying robots could be like scouts – going ahead of Rovers and astronauts, to see if the terrain is safe for them to explore?

 

MAMA: Bingo.

 

LEELA: And, by the way, in case you’ve forgotten, ingenuity is a fancy word for being inventive and resourceful – in a creative, original way. Something ingenious people do. Get it?

 

MAMA: Or in the words of the Alabama high school student, Vaneeza Rupani, who suggested the name in a competition to NASA – “Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things.”

 

LEELA: So Ingenuity is a perfect name! (But Judy for short!)

 

MUSIC

 

LEELA: Now let’s head to the US, where the world is watching what’s happening in the northern state of Minnesota.

 

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:

South African emergency workers are evacuating three 17-storey residential buildings overlooking Cape Town as a huge fire burns along the city’s prominent Table Mountain. The fire, which has been burning for days, has already destroyed the Reading Room at the University of Cape Town’s 200-year-old Library, burning a unique collection of African books and archives – many that were unexplored.

 

The island of Cuba marked the end of an with the official transfer of power from the Castro family, who were in charge for six decades, to the communist country’s first civilian leader. But the transition is hugely symbolic and is unlikely to result in dramatic shift of politics and policy in the one-party country.

 

A woman collecting shellfish off the coast of northeast England was astonished to discover the largest dinosaur footprint ever found on the Yorkshire coast. It’s believed to be around 165 million years old and likely to belong to a ‘Jurassic giant’ megalosaurus.

 

And, have you ever heard of a ‘pizzly’ bear? Well, that’s what you get when polar bears, on the verge of extinction, move inland in search of food and start mating with grizzly bears, creating a hybrid animal that’s more resilient to the warming world and pretty cute too.

 

10.11

 

SPORTS STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s time to play ball… Score… Sports News!”

 

LEELA: You won’t believe the huge skirmish happening in professional football right now – or I should say, soccer.

 

MAMA: Some of the biggest club teams in Europe – from Manchester United and Arsenal to Real Madrid and Barcelona – were threatening to form their very own Super League.

 

LEELA: They were – then they weren’t. It’s a fast-moving pitch.

 

MAMA: For the latest let’s cut across   to Jackson Hosking, our sports correspondent in England.

 

LEELA: Jackson, what’s going on?!

 

JACKSON: Well, it started on Sunday when twelve of Europe’s top football clubs announced they were launching a breakaway European Super League – with six clubs from England’s Premier League and six other European clubs already signed up.

 

Plans have been to add three more teams – therefore making 15 permanent teams. –

 

But there’s been A LOT of criticism from loads of people – from soccer authorities, FIFA and UEFA, to political leaders, like the UK Prime Minister and the French President.

 

UKPRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON: How can it be right to have a situation in which you create a kind of cartel, that stops clubs competing against each other, playing against each other properly, with all the hope and excitement that gives fans up and down the country. I think it goes against the basic principles of competition.

 

Not surprisingly, there’s a backlash.

 

Football governing bodies are threatening to ban the clubs who play in the European Super League, AND any of their players, from representing their countries in competitions, like the World Cup.

 

One thing is for sure, this story has moved faster than a football on a pitch!

 

News late last night is that all 6 English Premier League Teams have now withdrawn from the European Super League – after taking into consideration the negative reaction from their fans, football authorities and the UK government.

 

It will be interesting to see how reactions from the remaining Super League members unfold.

 

In England, I’m Jackson Hosking, reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi.

 

LEELA: Thanks, as ever, for that report, Jackson.

 

MAMA: Yes, I can see this is a big deal, especially in England – home of the sport. Though some researchers believe the game dates back 3000 years, it was in 1863, did you know, when England’s newly formed Football Association actually wrote down a set of rules, making it official.

 

ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “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 and maybe a little creepy or eerie – cos when you hear this, you’re gonna get a creepy tingle down your spine. At least when you find out what it is!

 

SFX OF SPIDERS!

 

LEELA: You’ll never believe what this vibrating, or I should say, re-verberating sound is…

 

MAMA: Uhhh… haunted house?

 

LEELA: Nope.

 

MAMA: A robot going to space?

 

LEELA: Try again.

 

MAMA: The mind of a mother trying to block out a noisy child?

 

LEELA: Mama…!

 

MAMA: A monkey playing the xylophone?

 

LEELA: No. But you’re getting warmer, moving into the animal kingdom.

 

SFX  OF SPIDERS

 

LEELA: This is what some researchers think, a spiderweb sounds like.

 

MAMA: A spider?

 

LEELA: A spider’s web technically.

 

MAMA: What?!

 

LEELA: From communication to construction, spiderwebs may offer an orchestra of information.

 

That’s according to the MIT engineers behind the study.

 

MAMA: Huh!

 

LEELA: You see, there are more than 47,000 species of spiders, and all spin silk webs to provide housing and catch food. Well, experts reckon they also use the vibrations while doing so, as a way to communicate!

 

MAMA: Did not know that.

 

LEELA: Markus Buehler and his team of researchers recorded the vibrations from spiders doing different things in their webs – like constructing it, repairing it, hunting and feeding.

 

They then used artificial intelligence, of course, to learn these vibrational patterns and associate them with certain actions, basically learning spider language!

 

MAMA: Woa! So the music isn’t exactly what a spider sounds like but a recreation, right?

 

LEELA: Right. They listened for patterns in the spider signals and recreated the sounds using computers and mathematical algorithms, hoping that one day they will understand the language of spiders. AND be able to communicate with them!

 

MAMA: Totally cool.

 

LEELA: If not a little creepy.

 

MAMA: I love spiders. You know what I’d tell a spider I could say something?

 

LEELA: Ummm, no…

 

MAMA: Keep eating those flies and mosquitos – folks,  good work!

 

15.36

 

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 – The jury in the epic trial of the ex-police officer accused of killing George Floyd last summer in the state of US Minnesota found him guilty on all three accounts. They took only 11 hours of deliberation. What’s deliberation?

Deliberation is the process of weighing up all the evidence and options and then making a decision.

 

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – There’s been a massive fight in European soccer as some top clubs tried to form a break-away Super League. The game is said to have officially formed in England in 1863 thanks to what?

When England’s newly formed Football Association actually wrote down a set of rules.

 

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Space history was made when the miracle of flight was achieved on another planet by NASA’S drone called Ingenuity. Why is it hard to fly on Mars?

Because the atmosphere on Mars is super thin.

 

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – And just what does the word “Ingenuity” mean?

Ingenuity means being inventive and resourceful in a creative, original way.

 

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Researchers from MIT think they know what a spiderweb sounds like, which could understanding spider talk and one day communicating with them – or at least one species. And just how many species of spiders exist in the world?

There are more than 47,000 species of spiders.

 

LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Jacuzzi!!!!!

 

MAMA: But, keeping our promise to bring you a poem each week, for national poetry month, we felt that the touching poem “Caged Bird” by the iconic Black American writer Maya Angelou would be appropriate.

 

LEELA: We would’ve loved a recording of her reading it – but there isn’t one freely available.

 

MAMA: Though we have managed to get a recording of Angelou reading the opening and closing lines and I’ll read the rest.

 

MAYA ANGELOU:

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

 

 

MAMA:

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

 

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

 

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

 

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

 

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

 

MAYA ANGELOU:

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

 

THEME MUSIC

 

LEELA: And now we’re at the end of this week’s eventful podcast. Thank you so much for listening.

 

If you enjoyed this dip in the whirlpool of news and information – why not tell a friend about us and get them to jump in too?

 

Alrighty then – see you next week in the Newsy Jacuzzi!

 

-ends-