EVs, solar motorbikes, driverless cars, cave pig, wheelchair climber

Jan 27, 2021 Episode 31

Electric vehicles, driverless cars, solar motorbikes are here, plus warty pig cave drawing and wheelchair man climbs skyscraper!

Episode Transcript

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


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – a whirlpool of news and information. I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.

MAMA: And I’m Lyndee Prickitt co-host, sound effects fetcher and big story explainer.

LEELA: And my Mama…

MAMA: That is also in my job description, yes.

LEELA: And, boy, do we have some electric news for you this week.

That’s right experts predict that electric vehicles will be bought as often as traditional cars in the coming five years. That’s thanks to a load of improvements we’ll talk you through or should I say “drive you” through!

Like the super-fast-charging EV batteries being produced in Israel and the solar-charged ones being developed in India.

We’ll also hear how Norway is already on the EV road trip get it?! with more than half of the vehicles bought last year being electric.

And how the cute little driverless delivery EV, created in Silicon Valley of course, is about to be on the road for real.

As if all that weren’t enough scientists have also discovered the oldest cave drawings ever made of a warty pig! rocking the art and archeology world… oink, oink.

Finally, we’ll tell you about the wheel chairing rock climber, who went to new heights on a Hong Kong skyscraper.

Yep, you heard right a rock climber in a wheelchair went up a skyscraper.

So stay tuned to hear it all. But first, it’s time for…

STING: “Now it’s time to tackle the Big NEWS story of the week!”

LEELA: It snowed in London! It snowed in London!

MAMA: Leela….

LEELA: But it snowed, Mama.

MAMA: Yes. But that’s not the BIG story of the week.

LEELA: It was to me.

MAMA: Alright, fair enough. Listeners: Leela Sivasankar Prickitt got to see, feel –

LEELA: And taste!

MAMA: and taste snow for the first time in her little life as it snowed a few days ago for a solid two hours in London, England.


MAMA: Ok now, while that is definitely big news in your life

LEELA: And lots of people in London.

MAMA: Yes. But let’s broaden it out a bit.

LEELA: Oh, OK. Should we get our seatbelts on and rev up the engine?

MAMA: Yes, ma’am. Wait. No revving up with this engine. Rather a pity for podcast makers, but that’s what makes this story so important.

LEELA: We are talking about, of course, clean cars or electric vehicles, which are on the point of being mass produced and…

MAMA: And mass consumed! So basically when new technology comes out it’s really expensive. Right?

LEELA: And usually really big like the first computers and phones. The first computers were as big as a rooms and now your phone is pretty much a computer.

MAMA: I know, That’s so true. Same with electric cars and more importantly the battery that makes the engine of electric cars run.

LEELA: But now…

MAMA: Sales of electric vehicles all over the world rose by 43% last year. Now that’s still a fraction of total cost is 4.2% to be precise  of total car sales. But experts in this field, from the people at Bloomberg New Energy predict that…

LEELA: electric cars will become cheaper to own than gas-guzzling cars in the next 3-5 years!

MAMA: And, the shining example of this is Norway, which has just become the first country in the world to see people buying more electric cars than those powered by petrol or diesel.

LEELA: For more on this, let’s cut across to Annika Dolven Misra, who’s half Norwegian and beaming with pride!

ANNIKA: Thanks, Leela! When Norwegians set their minds to something they make it happen. Our electric car journey get it, car “journey” started a super long time ago, in the 1990s. First, it was environmental activists who pestered the government. Then it was the government that made electric cars tax-free. And increased taxes on polluting cars.

That meant electric vehicles – or EVs, as we like to call them! – were no longer super expensive to buy. So more people did just that started to buy EVs. Then guess what? More and more charging points started to spring up, so it became easier to own and operate them.

And yep, you know where this is going even more people started to buy them! So EV makers could make a lot more at one time and presto that makes it cheaper to produce and the price comes down. And then in 2020, for the first time anywhere in history, more than half of the cars bought in Norway 54 percent to be exact were EVs. Go, Norway!

The only drawback to getting the world on the EV journey? Well, with demand increasing, car makers might send their new fleets to the rest of Europe instead of Norway. Perhaps Indian EV makers should start shipping to Norway?! Now that’s an idea. I’m Annika Dolven Misra, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Annika! But Mama, I have a question.

MAMA: Fire away.

LEELA: If these cars are just plugged into a socket… Isn’t that using energy too?

MAMA: Yes… You’re so right. From your local electricity grid that’s usually powered by fossil fuel like coal, which isn’t exactly clean.

LEELA: Uh oh.

MAMA: And… Also, the batteries are made using a lot of rare earth materials that are precious and limited.

LEELA: so, not sustainable then, huh?

MAMA: Mmmm… AND then there is the energy used when the cars and batteries are manufactured or made.

LEELA: Uhhh… then what’s the point?

MAMA: Well, it’s the math., EVs are cleaner to run that is at the point of actually driving them, but really it’s all about the complete story!  In one column Leela you have the traditional internal combustion vehicle (ICEV) and in the other column the EV… Well, when you add up all the energy cost from the beginning of vehicle’s life to its end. EVs still come out cleaner. And best thing is they’re improving all the time.

LEELA: With better technology?

MAMA: Yes, not only is grid energy cleaning up in a lot of places, but the EVs are improving all the time too.. For instance one of the major barriers to buying EVs is the cost and running time of the battery. But an Israeli startup is now mass-producing batteries that can take an EV 100 miles after being charged for just five minutes. And… They’re already find ways to recycle the battery components. And get what one clever company in India is doing for its fleet of electric two-wheelers?

LEELA: is this the company with the great name? E-Bike-go-go?

MAMA: Close! Just one go. EBikeGo. They’ve designed get this solar batteries for their fleet of scooters, which they rent out to delivery drivers all over India.

LEELA: You mean they don’t have to plug it in to the dirty grid?

MAMA: Nope. Solar panels on the top of their garages will charge the batteries. Then when the drivers come in to ‘refuel’ –

LEELA: Wink, wink “refuel” so to speak!

MAMA: Quite, they’ll just take out the dead battery and pop in a charged one.

LEELA: So if this works in the future there might not be fueling stations but battery exchange stations.

MAMA: Maybe so.

LEELA: Sounds pretty clean to me!

MAMA: Yes, maybe it’s something that the Nuro in America will do.

LEELA: Oh, that cute little driverless EV?!

MAMA: That’s the one. Which just got permission to launch in the US.

LEELA: Wahoo! For this, let’s jump across the Atlantic to our tech reporter and fellow podcaster in his own right – Ari Kelly.

ARI: Thanks, Leela. Yep, just a few weeks ago Nuro got its driving license from the state of California! Well, it got the first ever “Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit” to be precise. And, by the way, “autonomous vehicle” is a fancy way of saying “self-driving car.” Getting the permit means the company can actually launch its driverless delivery service in California. Nuro’s latest batch of electric vehicles called R2 will be able to bring food, drinks, even prescription medicines and other products straight from the shop to the customer’s door.

I like to think of it as a “vending machine on wheels.” But of course it’s more technical than that! The slow speed R2 has a front-end that absorbs energy and can collapse inward to better protect those outside of the vehicle in case of a, you know, an accident! Nuro has spent the last two years testing its vehicles in California, Texas and Arizona.

But with this deployment permit, the company can move out of the testing lane and begin making autonomous deliveries for real. At least in Silicon Valley to begin with. I’m Ari Kelly reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks, Ari. Ari also hosts his own podcast called At Your Level, which you should also check out. And that’s a wrap on our EV special.

SFX: “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.”

It’s time to check in with the other big news stories happening all over the world…

MAMA: There were violent clashes in India as farmers stormed the historical Red Fort in the capital New Delhi. For over two months the farmers have been protesting new laws that will open up the agricultural market but which famers fear will favor big business.

In the US, lawmakers are busy. Republicans are grilling candidates for President Joe Biden’s cabinet, while Democrats officially begin the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. But many experts don’t think there’ll be enough votes to convict the former president.

And staying in America, a winning lottery ticket worth $730 million dollars still hasn’t been cashed in. It was bought and played by a person from the state of Michigan and is the third largest prize in US history.

Making medical history, a blind Israeli man regains his sight after receiving a biometric implant during an operation that lasted less than an hour. The man was able to see his family again for the first time in ten years.

And in Sweden, a dozen bridges are being built for… reindeer, of course. As global warming is forcing the reindeer to roam further afield in search of food, the bridges will help them cross railway lines and major roads more safely in the north of the country.

LEELA: Thank you very much for that zip around the world what a week of news! And now we need a little of this…

STING – LEELA: Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and/or Entertainment.

MAMA: So this is mammoth news or I should say warty news.

LEELA: Warty?

MAMA: Wart pig, to be precise, or wild boar if you prefer. That’s what was found etched into a remote cave deep in a valley in Indonesia discovered just a few weeks ago. It’s thought to be the oldest cave painting in the world 45-and-a-half thousand years old!

LEELA: Whoa…

MAMA: That’s from the Last Glacial Period, Leela.

LEELA: What? As in the ice age?!

MAMA: Yes, the most recent Ice Age when glaciers covered huge parts of the planet, but homo sapiens that’s us, humans nevertheless managed to evolve and get around just about everywhere.

LEELA: And draw on caves.

MAMA: Yes. And not just any drawings. Not only is this wart pig now thought to be the oldest painting in the world. The scientists who discovered it, from Australia’s Griffith University Co-leaders of the expedition are Professor Maxime Aubert and Professor Adam Brumm from the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, found others near it earlier last year. And those weren’t just paintings of animals but part-human-part-animal creatures!

LEELA: Like the old Hindu gods or Greek mythology!

MAMA: Yes, but even older, more primitive… And by the way, human-beast hybrids are called ‘therianthropes’ and the paintings of these found in Indonesia are thought to be at least 44,000-year-old. And that suggests that long-long ago people had an….

LEELA: – imagination!

MAMA: Exactly! Curiosity, questions and reasoning. That is, the ability to imagine supernatural beings to try to explain how we got here and why we’re here…

LEELA: But how do they know how old these are?

MAMA: Well, it’s true rock art is really hard to date. But luckily these are limestone caves on which little calcium deposits, called “cave popcorn”

LEELA: That’s making me hungry…

MAMA: Yeah, I don’t think you’d want to eat limestone cave popcorn, but you get the visual aid – well they can be dated, using a technique called uranium-series analysis and they put the date at 45-and-a-half thousand years old, suggesting the painting underneath could be even older!

LEELA: Whoooaa.

MAMA: And, here’s something else, for centuries the oldest cave paintings found, that depicted a story, were in Europe. But these are older meaning Asia, or the Indo Pacific to be precise, could now be regarded as the cradle or birthplace of humanity’s first known artistic expression and visual storytelling.

LEELA: Go Asia, go!


LEELA: And, staying in Asia…

STING: 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: Oh, you are not going to believe this last story…

MAMA: Go on, try me.

LEELA: Well, you know this craze and when I say craze I mean something crazy people do! of climbing up the sides of skyscrapers?

MAMA: Yeah, that’s a crazy craze.

LEELA: Well, would you think it was even more crazy to climb up a skyscraper without the use of your legs?

MAMA: Yes!

LEELA: Well, you might think it’s just brave and empowering, after you hear this story…

Once upon a time, about ten years ago, Lai Chi-wai was a rock climbing champion ranked eighth in the world in fact before he was in a bad car accident.

It left him paralyzed from the waist down that means he can’t move his legs and has to use a wheelchair to get around.

But his love for rock-climbing was so strong he figured out a way to attach his wheelchair to a rope, which allowed him to climb again. It wasn’t long before he was back on the rock-face. And then Hong Kong’s Nina Tower skyscraper.

It was all going well in the morning, but after seven hours of dangling from a rope, lugging his body up, higher and higher… (slightly louder) the afternoon the winds on the island started to whip up around him… tangling his ropes… and making it super… hard… to put one… arm… above the other.

After climbing up 820 feet (or 250 meters) for ten hours, he had to stop just short of the top. But was he pleased with his achievement? Oh, yes he was. Chi said he just wanted to prove disabled people are NOT weak.

MAMA: Whoaaaa. I think he made his point.

LEELA: Oh, yeah. Go Chi, go!

STING: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top… five fab facts heard today.

FAB FACT NUMBER 1: Electric vehicles often known by their acronym, EVs run on batteries – but how are the batteries charged?                                                                                                                          Most EV batteries are charged by being plugged into the local electricity grid, which are usually powered by fossil fuels, meaning EVs aren’t totally clean or carbon free.

FAB FACT NUMBER 2: What does a driverless car need to be legal on the roads?                                           A driverless car, like the Nuro R2, must have an “Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit” to be allowed to operate on roads in the USA.

FAB FACT NUMBER 3: Cave paintings were recently found in the Asian country of Indonesia. When do they date from?                                                                                                                                                                                They are 44-45,500 years old, dating from the Last Glacial Period, that’s the most recent Ice Age when glaciers covered huge parts of the planet.

FAB FACT NUMBER 4: What are ancient paintings of part-human-part-animal creatures called? Those human-beast hybrids are called ‘therianthropes.’

FAB FACT NUMBER 5: The oldest known cave painting is in an Indonesian cave from 45,500 years ago! But how do scientists know this?                                                                                                                  Thanks to something called “cave popcorn” or the calcium deposits on limestone that formed on top of the cave drawing, scientists can use uranium-series analysis to date the cave popcorn, thus determining the age of the drawing underneath.

LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!! But before we go. Oh, you know it… Caroline, this shout out is to you!

MAMA: Yeah, we LOVED getting your message that said, “Episode 30. Wow! What a  journey  we had with our Newsy Pooloozi  team of little children from all over the world. After doing 30 episodes little Leela’s voice  never fails to lift my heart. Thoroughly  enjoyed  all the information. More episodes please!” Are you blushing…?

LEELA: Yes… But I like it! We’ve never met you, Caroline, but you’ve been our Number 1 fan from day 1!

MAMA: Yep keep the feedback coming, folks. And maybe we’ll read yours out next time…

LEELA: Exact-la-mond! So remember, if you enjoyed this dip in the whirlpool of news and information then do subscribe, rate and review – it really, really helps other people hear us too. Alright then, see you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!