Jun 23, 2021 Episode 52
Movie planned about “tree talk” pioneer, new cricket bamboo bat, Spanish shepherdess school, Swedish city embraces its rain
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Jacuzzi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of Newsy Jacuzzi – your whirlpool of news and information. I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. As ever I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder – otherwise known as my side-kick-Mama.
MAMA: Hello, hello – I’m Lyndee Prickitt.
LEELA: This week we talk “talking trees” as the story of the woman who pioneered research in this field is being turned into a Hollywood movie. Wait, you didn’t know trees talk to each other? Well, stay tuned and we’ll tell you all.
Speaking of the wood, move over willow – there’s a new player in the game of cricket – with a study finding a bamboo bat is stronger and more environmentally friendly. But not everyone wants to take a crack at this revolutionary bat.
SFX OF BAT HITTING A BALL
And more woody news, would you believe?! Yes, Spain is em“bark”ing on a novel way to get people – especially women – moving back into its countryside. Here’s a clue:
And finally, “rain, rain go away come again some other – ”
SFX of screeching record
Wait – one rainy city is deciding to change their tune!
All right, let’s get our boots on and head into the…
BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”
MAMA: So, do you remember our story a couple of months ago about scientists discovering the language spiders use to communicate with each other?
LEELA: Oh, yeah – “spider talk” is one of my favorite stories we’ve covered on the podcast.
MAMA: I know, right? Well, as if that weren’t wild enough, the one that still gets me is trees talking to each other.
LEELA: Well, in their own tree language, that is.
MAMA: True. Well, now a Hollywood movie is being made about the woman who was a pioneer in this field – Canadian Dr Suzanne Simard.
LEELA: And it all started when she was just a young girl and her dog fell down the toilet.
SFX OF TOILET FLUSH
LEELA: Well, not that kind of a toilet. But an outhouse in the woods. In other words – a big hole in the ground.
MAMA: It was while she and her grandfather were trying to get the poor pooch out of all that muck –
MAMA: – that she became fascinated by the complex and colorful web of roots as they went deeper and deeper.
LEELA: Her dog was rescued, by the way.
MAMA: And then she became hooked, wondering if these amazing trees, that stand-guard through the test of time, talked to each other. And, having come from a family of loggers –
LEELA: Those are people who cut trees down to be used for wood.
MAMA: Yep. She started wondering if chopping entire patches of forest down at once was the smartest way to go about it. So, she set about finding out. And in the forests of British Columbia that means she had more than one encounter with a bear.
SFX OF BEAR
LEELA: But that didn’t stop her.
MAMA: Nope. After 30 years of field work and writing over 100 different papers, here’s what she found.
Trees are linked together by their roots. But that’s not all. They’re further intertwined by an huge underground network of fungi that resembles the squiggly neural networks in our brains, actually. And, guess what?
LEELA: The fungi send messages back and forth, like, “Hey, what’s up?” Well, kind of.
MAMA: Yeah – they’re checking in with each other to see if they’re OK, basically.
LEELA: And guess what Dr Simard calls this? The “wood wide web!” Clever.
MAMA: In one study she noticed a fir tree that had been injured by insects appear to send chemical warning signals to a pine tree growing nearby. And what did the pine tree then do? Produced defense enzymes to protect itself against the insect.
LEELA: In other words – it made itself taste really bad!
MAMA: And they don’t just warn each other of dangerous predators, but also when they’re sick they ask and receive help – sharing nutrients to keep each other healthy.
LEELA: How cool is that? Talk about the mother tree now, mama.
MAMA: Well, as many as 47 trees can be linked together to an older, bigger tree Dr Simard calls a “mother” or “hub” tree.
LEELA: I like “mother tree” best.
MAMA: Awww! So by being the biggest tree, usually so high up it gets the most nutrients from the sun – well, it passes a lot of that goodness on to the smaller trees and, of course, the fungi, continuing that process of interlocking and helping each other. This is why she’s recommending that instead of chopping down entire patches of forest, to instead save a few of these hub trees –
LEELA: Mother trees, that is!
MAMA: OK, mother trees, because they’ll actually help new seedlings grow.
LEELA: Even if they aren’t hers?
MAMA: That’s right. They talk to each other and work for the greater good of the forest.
LEELA: Wait – one more very important question.
LEELA: Why did the mushroom go to the party?
MAMA: (laughs) I wonder if the trees like that one?
LEELA: And now, staying with wood – the kind used in cricket bats that is.
MAMA: And we’re not talking crickets, those cousins of cicadas, but the game loved from the Caribbean to England and all the way over to Australia.
LEELA: With the most die-hard fans right here in South Asia. Play the sting, Mama.
SPORTS STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s time to play ball… Score… Sports News!”
LEELA: Move over willow – it’s time to take a crack at the bamboo bat.
MAMA: Yes, scientists are suggesting the traditional willow used to make cricket bats could be replaced by bamboo, which is not only more accessible but more sustainable as well.
LEELA: For more on this story let’s cut across to Yuvraj Sahni, our cricket correspondent.
YUVRAJ: Thanks, Leela.
Did you know the sport of cricket, which originated in England, has been played since the late 16th century?
And for the last two hundred years the bat used by the players has been made of willow, a wood found in England, naturally.
Despite a “good innings,” English willow is now in short supply.
See, it takes about 15 years before a tree can be harvested.
And then – get this – between up to 30 percent of that wood is wasted during the production of the bat!
So, there’s a new “player” on the field – bamboo!
I know, I know.
When you hear bamboo, you just think of fishing poles or those bamboo plates that are used now instead of plastic, right?
Well, if you use laminated bamboo – which is made of layers and layers pressed together – it becomes super strong, according to a recent Cambridge University study.
Their tests showed the bat was harder, yet lighter, and more efficient to produce, than the traditional willow bat!
But the International Cricket Council doesn’t think bamboo bats are a “match” for willow.
Mostly because bamboo is officially considered a “grass” and not wood.
That’s disappointing for the leader of the study, Dr Darshil Shah.
He says the bamboo bats aren’t just better for the environment, but being easier to source – would mean more people could play the sport.
And that would be cracking for the game.
In New Delhi, I’m Yuvraj Sahni, reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Thanks a lot, Yuvraj! Mama, Didn’t the American game of baseball have a similar debate about using metal bats instead of the traditional wooden bat?
MAMA: Yes, and the end result was that the cheaper and lighter metal bat is now being used by all players in high school and college and the youth leagues, but is prohibited, or banned, by the professional major leagues.
LEELA: Why’s that?
MAMA: Well, the ball pops off a metal bat more powerfully, when hit by stronger and faster adults, and that could be dangerous flying around.
LEELA: Well, maybe the bamboo bat could be used for nonprofessional players here too.
MAMA: Good idea!
MAMA: Now, when most of us hear the word “shepherd” we think of a man in long robes with a large staff, herding sheep, something almost biblical, right? It is one of the world’s oldest occupations, dating back 5000 poop years.
LEELA: Ah… no. I think of Little Bo Peep, of course!
“Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
and doesn’t know where to find them;
leave them alone, And they’ll come home,
wagging their tails behind them.
MAMA: Oh, well, of course. She’s epic. But, well, she’s a nursery rhyme from a long-ago time. You’d think today it’s farting sheep dogs and web cams that do the job. Or even AI and robots, right?
LEELA: Oh, that sounds awful. That’s not what the countryside is about! I’d love to spend my day walking fields and counting sheep. Though it might make me… sleepy (yawns).
MAMA: Well, for decades pooping people have been leaving the farms and heading to the cities. Especially women.
LEELA: Oh, that’s not good.
MAMA: No. Well, one European country – Spain – is very worried about this migration and has grand plans to bring people, particularly women, back to the farms.
LEELA: Ahhh, that must mean we’ll be heading to Nina Granena our Spanish correspondent.
MAMA: Yes ma’am.
LEELA: Well, then. Take it away, Nina.
NINA: Calling all bo-peeps!
There’s a new school in Spain to learn how to become a shepherd.
And it’s just for women!
In the countryside of Northern Spain, they have problem.
Too many people are moving away, into the cities.
Especially women – who maybe didn’t think there were enough jobs for them in the country.
Enter: shepherdess school.
For nine months, you take classes online and in person, with real goats and sheep.
You learn lots of cool stuff…not just old fashioned shepherding.
You learn about sustainable farming, beekeeping,
….even how to use a drone to help you find your flock.
I mean… How cool is that?
So far, about 265 people have signed up.
You even get to bring your kids to work.
I could seriously get into this.
Now to convince mom to change her profession… wish me luck!
In Barcelona, this is Nina Granena for Newsy Jacuzzi
LEELA: Thanks a lot, Nina! So basically little Bo-peep hasn’t lost her sheep – but the countryside has lost little bo-peep!
MAMA: Good point! Well let’s hope this new scheme brings her back!
LEELA: And finally… let’s see what our lucky dip machine has in store for us!
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? An oddball, no doubt!”
LEELA: This story is about an ODD state of mind. Or, actually, maybe a very healthy one.
MAMA: Wow, you’re getting deep.
LEELA: Well, let’s dive in. Cue the music, Mama.
LEELA: It’s summer so – we all want to go out and play, right?
MAMA: Absolutely I want you to go out and play.
MAMA: OK – I like being outside too, it’s true.
LEELA: So there’s nothing worse than this, right?
SFX OF RAIN
LEELA: (Singing) “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.” Right?
MAMA: Well, no, not in India. That’s one of the fascinating things I’ve realized about living here – people love the rain. In the summer anyway. When they see an overcast day, they’ll often say, “Oh, isn’t is a beautiful day,” like we’d say about sunshine and blue skies.
LEELA: That’s because it’s a break from the unrelenting heat.
MAMA: Unrelenting, huh? As in it doesn’t stop. Yeah, it can be well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (or over 40 degrees Celsius) for weeks and weeks and weeks here.
LEELA: Boy, do I know.
MAMA: So the rain is like a blessed relief.
LEELA: That’s true. But NOT in a place that’s cooler – where getting wet means getting cold, like England or even further north, like Gothenburg, Sweden.
MAMA: Gothenburg – isn’t that batman’s city?
LEELA: No, that’s Gotham City, Mama. And it’s make-believe. The Swedish city of Gothenburg is real and it’s much colder than India and even most of America in the summertime. More like Britain, it rarely ever gets hotter than 72 degrees (or 22 Celsius). So when it rains, you’ll definitely hear the song, “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.” Well, in Swedish, that is.
MUSIC OF regn regn gå iväg
LEELA: But there’s a problem – this Swedish city gets A LOT of rain. Nearly 40% of the time it’s raining!
MAMA: And chilly. Yick.
LEELA: Right? Well, after years of singing –
MUSIC OF regn regn gå iväg
LEELA: And even showing nothing but sunny-day photos in all their tourism promotions, they’ve decided to get radical: and embrace the rain!
So when kids hear this:
SFX OF RAIN
They don’t ask the rain to go away but if they can go out and play!
Because local playgrounds have been designed to be fun when it’s wet.
There are dips in the ground to make the puddles deeper and splashier.
Water gushes down channels straight INTO sandpits where children can make pools, rivers and dams.
And, yeah, you’re encouraged to ride your bike right through the puddles.
Never fear, though, for parents who wish to stay a little dry there are lilypad-shaped rain shelters.
It’s all part of a three-year campaign, called Rain Gothenburg, to turn the wet weather into a positive for the city.
Besides two rain playgrounds, there are many drizzly art projects from poems on manhole covers to polar bear footprints painted across a city square using special paint so that they only appear when it’s… yep, raining!
MAMA: What a cool idea! You are so right – it’s all about changing your state of mind. A bit odd but –
LEELA: Healthy! And wet.
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 – A Hollywood movie is going to be made about the ecologist, Suzanne Simard, who has found that trees communicate with each other through their roots and a sprawling network of fungi. What was the phrase she coined to describe this?
The “wood wide web.”
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – A Cambridge University study shows that bamboo bats could be a better, more sustainable and inclusive material to use in cricket. What is the name of the traditional wood that’s been used for the past 200 years?
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – The sport of cricket originated when and in what country?
England has been playing cricket since the late 16th century.
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Spain is trying to get people – particularly women – to move back into the countryside by offering courses in one of the oldest professions in the world. What is that?
Being a shepherd, which dates back 5000 years ago.
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – What is the name of the city in Sweden that’s running a campaign to have fun and embrace its many rainy days?
And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website, newsyjacuzzi.com, and take this quiz online!
LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Jacuzzi!!!!!
Next week is special birthday episode where – can I say?
MAMA: No, it’s a surprise.
LEELA: Well, let’s just say they’ll be reason to laugh. At us. A lot.
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Alrighty then, see you next week in the Newsy Jacuzzi!