Bird drones, Napoli soccer stunner, new jellyfish, Spain’s lost map-makers

May 10, 2023 Episode 150

Bird drones take flight in New Mexico, Napoli soccer stunner, new box jellyfish in China and Spain’s lost map-makers

Episode Transcript


LEELA: This week – New Mexico bird drones, Napoli soccer triumph, new many-eyed jellyfish and lost map-makers!

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults! Hooray – I’m feeling better!


LEELA: I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by the one who mops my brow and edits out my coughs when I’m unwell – otherwise known as my mama producer.

MAMA: All jobs I love! Hello. I’m Lyndee Prickitt. Leela’s mom.

LEELA: This week we have a rip-roaring episode for you.

First, we’ll hear all about how taxidermy and spy-drone technology join forces in the name of aviation research. Wacky? Yes, it is!

We’ll also hear the touching tale of triumph from a city soccer team that hasn’t won the big championship in 3 decades.

Plus, a new species – never before seen – of box jellyfish are discovered. You won’t believe how many eyes this thing has!

And, finally, heard the tale of the Spanish mapmakers who, uhhhh, lost their way? No? Well, stick around and we’ll tell you the whole silly story.

Alrighty then, let’s dive on in. First up, it’s the…

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

MAMA:  Is it a bird?

LEELA: Is it a drone?

MAMA: Or is it a…

LEELA: Bird-drone. Wait. What???

MAMA: You said it. A bird-drone. This is Bioinspiration at its most basic form.

LEELA: OK… So, let’s refresh our memories here. Bioinspiration is…?

MAMA: Just like a sounds – letting the biological world stimulate research in non-biological science and technology.

LEELA: Wait – you mean taking inspiration from living things – like how fast squid can swim – to make an underwater camera swim like a squid? As we featured way back in Episode 22.

MAMA: Exactly!

LEELA: Ok. But wait. Don’t we already know that drones are inspired by birds? Why would this be our big news story of the week?

MAMA: Because this is beyond a little airplane, aka a drone, so small it could be a bird. This story is about a new project in the US state of New Mexico that using real dead birds and attaching them to the drone to help researchers.

LEELA: Excuse me?

MAMA: Yes, scientists at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology are taking birds that have been preserved through taxidermy – you know what that is, right?

LEELA: Yeah, like preserving the body of animals. And then sort of a stuff

MAMA: It’s considered an art form the art of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skins of animals – and especially vertebrates – so you can keep them for years and years.

LEELA: Or ummm, attach them to a drone.

MAMA: Exactly.

LEELA: Makes total sense. Remind me why this makes total sense?

MAMA: The researchers are converting the dead birds into drones in order to study flight.

LEELA: Right…

MAMA: And they are technically known as bio drones. But I like bird drones better. So, with the help of taxidermists, the researchers are using the body, or carcass, of a dead bird along with its feathers, attaching that to a drone with flapping wings like a living bird.

LEELA: Isn’t that also called reverse engineering?

MAMA: Yes! Absolutely. The idea is to send the bird drones out into the wild for research. See, normal drones would probably –

LEELA: Scare the bajeebers out of a bird!

MAMA: Yes. But this bio-engineered bird drone… Well, it has a much better chance of flying right along with the flock, taking footage and recording all sorts of data that can then be used to better understand the formation and flight patterns of birds. You know what they find is even likely to be super useful to the aviation industry.

LEELA: Oh, because don’t they say birds flying together, like in a formation, saves energy? Like they don’t have to flap as much or something…?

MAMA: Right. Well done! Your science teacher will be impressed! So, it’s speculated that less energy is needed when birds fly at optimal spacing and that they might even communicate with each other about how to get the most efficient flying positions.

LEELA: To take advantage of the wind?

MAMA: Well exactly, this is just a hypothesis – or an –

LEELA: Educated guess!

MAMA: Thank you. But now with a spy drone, I mean, a bird drone in their midst…

LEELA: They can find out! They hope. Clever…

MAMA: That’s the idea. But right now, the bird drones are currently being tested indoors – in a special big cage at the university – first before being let out in the wild.

LEELA: Well, folks. Watch this space. And remember – when you’re telling your teacher all about bird drones – don’t forget to say you heard it here first, on Newsy Pooloozi!

[SOURCE: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsfs.2015.0031




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

 MAMA: So, this is way more than just a sports story.

LEELA: Oh, yeah. It’s way more than just a story about winning and losing… for over two decades and finally winning again.

MAMA: Totally. It’s about pride, corruption…

LEELA: And the mob! And how do I say this – but, well, relics of hair. Like strands of someone’s hair you might not know personally but who you love. So, you keep them. On a wall. Of your café. For other fans to adore.

MAMA: This story has everything. And we have a correspondent at the heart of the story in Naples, Italy

LEELA: Who has seen the strands of hair, oh yes, she has.

MAMA: So, let’s cut across to Ananya Kazim in Italy for the story.

LEELA: Take it away, Ananya!

ANANYA: Thanks, Leela.

So, you know people in many parts of the world are completely crazy about soccer, right?

And most local teams – known as their football club that’s what they call soccer is more than “just a team.”

It’s like the city’s identity. Their pride.

Especially for a place like Naples – which hasn’t always been treated very nicely by the rest of the country.

See, for years the southern Italian city has been a lot poorer than other parts of Italy.

And sometimes when the team has played in northern cities, like Milan or Turin, those fans would hold up signs saying, “Welcome to Italy.”

Not cool.

So, imagine how the people of Naples have felt with their football club, Napoli, losing for more than three decades.

Not a good feeling.

Especially when they had been sooooooo excited in the 1990s to have the number one soccer player in the world – Diego Maradona – join their team and take it to victory.

Sadly, it was short-lived.

Soon, there were all sorts of rumors about him taking drugs and being associated with mobsters!

Not surprisingly, the team’s morale quickly sank, along with the club’s finances and a losing streak set in.

For thirty-three years!

That’s tough for a city that “lives for football.”

I visited a café that had strands of Maradona’s hair kept lovingly in a plastic case in a shrine of tons of his photographs.

The owner told me, “The first thing we think about when we wake up is not work – we think of the team. It’s in our blood.”

So, no wonder the city went wild when they finally won the Scudetto national championships.

And when I say wild, I don’t just mean – balloons and cheering.

I mean…. Full of fire crackers, honkers, smoke bombs and all night parties.

I admit, it was a little… overwhelming… but pretty special too.

In Italy, I’m Ananya Kazmin, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

[SOURCE: https://www.ft.com/content/21e18c07-1eac-49f3-b3aa-0aebc04c24ca?accessToken=zwAAAYf0wKoSkc8h4YwHHqxJ89OzqgrrwEwkyg.MEUCIQCG_xVy5lDFq0m2g8sT_E68BtEufB14CoSOs5cuUzr6KAIgdZHxoxCZ13k4iT9aoHVoASKsyTVH7EaFwEFvvXe9rew&segmentId=e95a9ae7-622c-6235-5f87-51e412b47e97&shareType=enterprise]

LEELA: Thank you Ananya. I wish I had been there with you.

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: It’s heating up in Southeast Asia as the region swelters under weeks of record-breaking temperatures. All-time highs were recorded in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Experts say these heat waves are only likely to become more frequent.

A young British man pleads guilty in New York to a role in one of the biggest hacks in social media history. In July 2020 the man known as PlugwalkJoe hacked 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

More soccer news – it’s official, ‘Pele’ is now a word in the Portuguese dictionary to describe “someone out of the ordinary.” Yes, Pele as in the Brazilian three-time World Cup champion, who many consider the best soccer player that ever lived.

And in Japan a mixed-breed dog is being hailed a hero after she saved the life of a man who was having a heart attack at a horse-riding school. How? By sounding the alarm, when the man was struggling to breath, with her incessant barking, of course.

It’s time for.

NATURE STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The call of nature. Get on your safari suite. Or squeeze into your scuba gear. And get ready to hop into a jeep. Or submarine. Submarine. Because Mother Nature is calling! Nature.”  

MAMA: And its big news for nature lovers… a previously unknown creature has been discovered.

LEELA: Yes, but maybe not such good news for those who like to swim in the ocean. No, we’re not talking sharks but something altogether more ghostly.

MAMA: I think these are some of the most stunning creatures on Earth. But, yeah, you don’t want to necessarily encounter one while wading in the water.

LEELA: Ok – let’ cut across to our science correspondent, Nandini Parikh for more on this story.

NANDINI: For anyone who’s ever been swimming in the ocean, there’s one thing that can make you swim back to the shore quickly…

The site of jellyfish!

Or worse – the feel of it stinging you! Ouch!

Well, take a deep breath.


Because… researchers in Hong Kong have found a new type of box jellyfish.

In Chinese waters and if you’ve never seen jellyfish before, well, they look like ghosts in the water.

Or – as its name suggests – a blob of jelly… bobbing along in the water.

But make no mistake – these creatures can sting.

In fact, box jellyfish are also known as “sea wasps,” did you know?

Luckily this newly discovered type is quite tiny – but still has 12 long tentacles.

These tentacles not only help the jellyfish move along in the water, but also paralyze its prey.

Like – zap!

But the coolest part is that it has 24 eyes all over its body.


Scientists don’t know if the newly discovered jellyfish stings humans or not.

Perhaps a brave listener or, ummmm… one of our courageous hosts may volunteer… in the name of science?

Just kidding!

I’m Nandini Parikh reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.

LEELA: Are you kidding? Not me, no ma’am.

MAMA: Nor me. I love looking at jellyfish – but behind glass, thank you very much!

[SOURCE: https://www.livescience.com/animals/jellyfish/newly-discovered-jellyfish-is-a-24-eyed-weirdo-related-to-the-worlds-most-venomous-marine-creature


LEELA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for us this week.

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: No doubt, for sure. Play the music, Mama.


LEELA: Once upon a time – just the other day – sailors from the Spanish Navy set out on an important mission – to make a nautical map – nautical as in anything to do with the sea, sailing or sailors in case you didn’t know!

Of what, you ask?

A tricky patch of water that suddenly becomes shallow – off the coast of the Spanish island Ibiza.

As they set out to achieve their goal, well, ummm…, they lost their way!

And got stuck!

In the elevated areas of land underwater – called “the shallows.”

And they had to be rescued, didn’t they?

Oh, but the story gets better.

Because guess what the name of their boat was called?

Malaspina – named after a Spanish Navy Brigadier famous for leading the largest 18th century scientific expedition…  around the globe.

Ironic, no?

Then again, the name can also be translated as “having a bad feeling,” so maybe it was the right name for the boat after all.

[SOURCE: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2023-04-27/spanish-navy-ship-sent-to-draw-up-maps-loses-its-way]

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 team of US scientists and taxidermists are turning dead birds into drones to study flight patterns in hopes of helping the aviation industry. And what is taxidermy?

The art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – This uses something called – which one – bioinspiration, bioengineering or reverser engineering?

All three!

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Naples celebrates after its football club, Napoli, wins its first Series A championship in 33 years. What country is Naples in?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – A new species of box jellyfish with 24 eyes is discovered in Chinese waters. What is the nickname of this type of jellyfish?

Sea wasps

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – A Spanish Navy ship on a mission to draw up a nautical map loses its way in the shallows off the island of Ibiza. What are shallows?

Elevated areas of underwater land – where it is not deep.

And – hello teachers! If you’re an educator and you want to test your kids’ listening skills… then have a look at the text version of this quiz by going to the Lucky Dip Blog page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and let the kids take this quiz online or surprise them with a pop quiz in class!

LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi! But first… OMG – Nathan, thank you!

MAMA: Yes, we got a very sweet mail from a listener called Nathan who said not only that he loves our podcast thank you but that he hopes Leela gets better soon! How cool is that?

LEELA: Totally cool, that’s how cool.


LEEELA: If you enjoyed this dip in the coolest pool of news and information then smash that subscribe button on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts.

MAMA: While you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review! Go on – we’ll read it out loud if you do…

LEELA: Alrighty then, see you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!