Centipede bot, highest bridge, 13-year-old hero, Japanese smile again

May 24, 2023 Episode 152

Georgia Tech’s centipede robot, world’s highest railway bridge, 13-year-old US hero, Japanese learn to smile again

Episode Transcript


 LEELA: This week – a centipede bot, the world’s highest railway bridge, a 13-year-old hero and Japan learns how to smile again.

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


 LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the coolest, most refreshing pool of news and information pool for curious kids.

MAMA: And adults!

LEELA: I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder otherwise known as my… mama!

MAMA: That never gets old. Hello, I’m Lyndee Prickitt.

LEELA: This week…

Georgia Institute of Technology designs a robot that’s inspired by a centipede (yuck!) that could help save lives.

India builds the world’s highest railway bridge, which will help open up the tense region of Kashmir to the rest of the country.

A 13-year-old becomes a hero because… he didn’t have a cell phone.

And Japan learns how to… smile again. Yes, you heard me right. But you’ll have to listen to the end to find out why.

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

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

MAMA:  So, we all know how much you like a good creepy-crawly story, right, Leela?

LEELA: Wrong.

MAMA: Well, this is really tech-meets-creepy-crawly story, so it’s not that bad.

LEELA: Wrong.

MAMA: Oh, come on. Remember – how cool bio-engineering was a couple weeks ago with our big news story about bird drones?

LEELA: Wrong, I mean yes, reverse engineering, bioengineering, bioinspiration and biomimicry as in using what happens in the real, biological world and letting that inspire some cool tech or engineering. That’s nice. Creepy crawlies, not so nice.

MAMA: Well, then you’ll be pleased to know – you and I are not anchoring this story. To put you out of your misery, we’re going to our tech correspondents in Florida, which is just south of the US state Georgia, where they’ve let centipedes inspire a new robot.

LEELA: Yuck!

MAMA: Chaska and Lani Power – it’s over to you.

CHASKA AND LANI POWER: What do you get when you cross a centipede and a turkey? DRUMSTICKS FOR EVERYONE!!!

Now, what do you get when you cross a centipede with a robot?


Ok, they’re actually meant to move more efficiently than robots with four wheels or legs, but I suppose dream-haunting is optional.

Yes, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology are designing an artificial arthropod.

Arthropods are invertebrates with segmented bodies, like butterflies or crabs!.

Why, you ask?

These creepy bots are meant to help find disaster victims in hard-to-reach places, and even watch out for weeds!

So how does this thing even move?

Well, if you’ve seen a video of it in action, it looks a lot like a conga dance line! Each segment has two legs and some motors, connected to each other by 3-D printed joints.

Extensive testing showed that robots with at least ten legs could cover ground better than those with fewer than ten. For the best results, though, scientists found that 14-16 legs ensured maximum wiggle potential!

Inventing machines that operate like animals is called biomimicry it’s been used to create such marvels as airplanes, inspired by the flight of birds, and even Velcro, which was designed to stick to things like burs do.

Centipede robots are still a work in progress, and it’ll probably be a while before they’re on the front lines of natural disaster sites.

Who knows? Maybe one day your life will be saved by a squirmy little robot, squeezing through a tight gap to call for help!

In Florida, this is Chaska and Lani, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks, you guys. It’s a pretty cool piece of bioengineering – and not particularly creepy, it’s true. But definitely sci-fi!

[SOURCE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/65493145

https://research.gatech.edu/scurrying-centipedes-inspire-many-legged-robots-can-traverse-difficult-landscapes ]

MAMA: And now – closer to home…. The world’s highest railway bridge has just been constructed right here in India!

LEELA: Well not right here in New Delhi. But further up north in a state called Kashmir. Which is usually in the news for being a very tense place because it’s right next to Pakistan, which claims part of the area.

MAMA: Yes, the two neighbors have been to war 3 times in recent history and twice was because of territorial disputes over the region, which is also tense with the huge army Indian Army presences that’s stationed there sometimes has run-ins with the local Indian Muslim population. So, despite it being a beautiful area of stunning mountains and valleys…

LEELA: In fact, it’s called the “Switzerland of the subcontinent.”

MAMA: Right. It was a huge tourist area. And now that there’s been a period of stability – things are opening up again. And it’s just been announced that construction of a major railway bridge has been completed.

LEELA: Not just any bridge mind you- but “The World’s Highest Railway Bridge!” Dah-dah-dah-daaah!

MAMA: Yep. The Chenab Bridge sits almost 1200 feet or 359 meters above the Chenab River. To put that into perspective that’s about 95 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower. It’s been under construction for years but is finally finished now and will really open up the area to the rest of the country. Which is great news for businesses.

LEELA: And us! Because Kashmir has some delicious apples and walnuts and apricots and oh so much more…

[SOURCE: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/chenab-bridge-strategic-importance-of-indias-tallest-railway-bridge/articleshow/100301057.cms?from=mdr



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: Russians soldiers who are against their president, Vladimir Putin, and his war in Ukraine, say they launched a cross-border attack from Ukraine, crossing into Russia’s Belgorod region, seizing a checkpoint. The attack has spurred confusion and anger in Moscow.

The US is promising 250 million dollars in aid for refugees fleeing the fighting in the East African nation of Sudan. Two rival militias have been battling each other in the capital Khartoum for over six weeks with thousands of citizens caught in the crossfire. Many are without electricity and running water.

In space news, NASA’s James Webb Telescope finds evidence of a ‘celestial monster’ – OK, not a real monster. But we’re talking stars 10,000 times larger than the sun, but interestingly, just five times hotter at their center.

And just in… A BBC Culture poll of children’s authors and literary experts around the world is complete and a list of the 100 greatest children’s books is just released. What’s made the top spot, you ask? The American picture book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

MAMA: So, you know how sometimes when we’re in the car you borrow my phone only to get lost on some Google search or Amazon offer…

LEELA: I’m usually just reading the lyrics to whatever I’m listening to.

MAMA: Yeah, that. I mean you don’t give me my phone back which is why I ask for back because it seems like a whole generation of people are losing the ability to just sit stare out of the window…

LEELA: Right. Because it’s sooo important to just let the brain rest.

MAMA: Sometimes, yes. Well, here’s a story about how it pays to sometimes just sit back and look around at your environment instead of being lost in your phone. Cue the sting..

 KINDESS CORNER STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Kindness corner. Cool. They did what? Seriously? What? How cool is that! No way! Cool.”

MAMA: Once upon a time ago – just the other day – a middle school from Michigan was on a bus with 60 other classmates. When the bus driver suddenly felt lightheaded and realizing she was having a medical emergency, she radioed for help and started to pull over  the bus. Only she suddenly passed out!

LEELA: What? While driving a bus load of kids? Yikes!

MAMA: Yep. And the bus started to veer into the other lane.

LEELA: As in the lain of oncoming traffic?

MAMA: Exactly. Well, luckily for them one student, seventh grader Dillion Reeves, was not on his cell phone. Because he doesn’t have one, in fact. Noticing something is wrong he rushes to the driver, grabs the steering wheel and presses his foot down on the brakes.

LEELA: Phew! Please tell me it stopped before someone ran into them.

MAMA: It did, Thankfully, not surprisingly 13-year-old Dillion is being honored as a hero.

LEELA: Way to go, Dillion!

MAMA: Totally – and strike one up for being observant – not on your phone – and acting fast.

[SOURCE: https://abc7ny.com/dillon-reeves-bus-school-michigan-driver/13220758/


LEELA AND MAMA: 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: Oh, yes, this is odd. But kind of sad too.

MAMA: Odd but sad. I think I might have the right tune for that…

LEELA: So, the pandemic has affected all of us in different ways, right?

MAMA: Totally true.

LEELA: So, here’s a question – when you were wearing a mask all those days, did you still smile underneath?

MAMA: Oh, yeah. I’m a smiler. But I admit, it was hard to convey my smile to others. Often, I’d actually resort to telling people, “Hey, I’m smiling under here, promise.” Sometimes I’d even quickly pull the mask down to prove it.

LEELA: Right. Well, you’re in one camp, OK. So, it seems there was also a totally different camp. They don’t have to bother the camp of people who didn’t bother to smile when they had their masks on. For months. And – in Japan – we’re talking three years for some parts of the country.

MAMA: Yikes. That’s a long time without a smile.

LEELA: And now it turns out many people are finding it challenging to adjust to life without face coverings… by which I mean… some people have forgotten how to smile!

MAMA: What? No way.

LEELA: Yes, way. You see, many Japanese people are seeking the expertise of “smile tutors” who knew there was such a thing?!  to relearn the art of smiling. Or for some just to feel less self-conscious about it.

MAMA: Well, I never.

LEELA: I also didn’t know there was a “smile education company” but so there is. And there, students begin with facial stretches to relieve tension, followed by mirror exercises. Yes, they use handheld mirrors to see their smile, get comfortable with the act of showing your teeth and making adjustments until they’re satisfied. What are you doing?

MAMA: Facial stretches to relieve tensions.

LEELA: You look like a chimpanzee.

MAMA: Yeah, maybe I need to move on to the mirror exercises.

LEELA: Yeah, maybe so. Then again. Maybe the mask isn’t such a bad idea after all…

[SOURCE: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/learning-how-to-smile-again-japan-holds-lessons-for-life-without-mask-post-covid-19-pandemic



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 – Centipede-inspired robots or artificial arthropods are designed by Georgia Institute of Technology to help rescue workers get to tough-to-reach places.  What is an arthropod?

Invertebrates with segmented bodies, like butterflies or crabs

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Inventing machines or robots like this that operate like animals is called biomimicry, which has also been used to create what other marvels?

Airplanes, bird drones, and even Velcro

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – India constructs the world’s highest railway bridge in Kashmir, which is a tense area right next to Pakistan. How many wars have India and Pakistan fought over the region?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Well, this Chenab Bridge sits almost 1200 feet or 359 meters above the Chenab River. To put that into perspective that’s some (over 95 feet) taller than what famous monument?

The Eiffel Tower

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – People in Japan are learning to smile again with the help of what kind of experts?

Smile tutors

And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on or test some students of your class or at home, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!

LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi! Except… We have a word from our sponsor. OK. Our podcasting friends. But still, this is important…



LEELA: 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! It really helps other people find us. 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!