Predicting lightning, new kids vaccine, Int’l Dog Day, bumblebee “Bee-FF” pet

Aug 25, 2021 Episode 61

Know when and where lightning strikes, new vaccine for kids on the block, longest vaccination trek, Int’l Dog Day, bumblebee pet

Episode Transcript

EPISODE 61 – Predicting lightning




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




LEELA: Hello and welcome Newsy Pooloozi – your whirling-swirling weekly dose of world news. I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And…


MAMA: And I’m her sidekick, Lyndee Prickitt.


LEELA: Also my Mama. This week on Newsy Pooloozi…


Shocking news – revolutionary technology is on the verge of predicting when and where lightning will strike – which could make sporting games and air travel safer, but also help stop wildfires from sparking out of control.


Also there’s a new kid on the block – India just rolled out a new vaccine for children aged 12 and older.


Speaking of vaccines, you won’t believe the lengths some health workers go  to get yak farmers in India vaccinated.


Happy International dog day! We’ll hear from  one of our own correspondents who’s on a mission to end cruelty to dogs.


And finally… a loyal, but unlikely, pet in England gives new meaning to the phrase “BFF!”


Alright, let’s dive in with the…


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


MAMA: So, Leela.


LEELA: So, Mama.


MAMA: Have you ever heard me say that old expression – you never know when lightning will strike?


LEELA: Oh yeah – like when you’re trying to tell me life is not predictable, so I should be prepared for all different kinds of things happening.


MAMA: That’s the one! Oh, happiness – you have been listening!


LEELA: Most of the time. I think I probably remember that one, because I find lightning – sssscccaaary!


MAMA: Hmmm. Yes, how many times when we were on the beach did you run inside for fear of lighting?


LEELA: Lots! You know what they say, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”




MAMA: Yeah. Not doing so can be dangerous. Lightning is seriously hot. Did you know the air around a flash of lighting can jump up to temperatures five times hotter than the sun’s surface.


LEELA: What?!


MAMA:  Getting caught out in a storm is risky. On average, lightning kills around 20 people each year in the United States.


LEELA: But that’s nothing compared to India! Here over 2,000 people are killed by lighting every year, according to the India Met Department (IMD).


MAMA: Whoa. And that’s why walks, outings to the beach and sporting events get canceled or delayed a lot – especially in the stormier summer season, right?


LEELA: Like so many little league games and races we know of…


MAMA: Uh-huh. And flights too, actually.


LEELA: Oh,  like when we were stuck in the plane on the tarmac, waiting to take off,  for over an hour.


MAMA: Right,  because they didn’t want to put all the ground crew at risk of lightning.


LEELA: We nearly missed the next flight!


MAMA: Mmmm-hmmm. Lightning is disruptive. And that means it’s costly. And think about the lightning that causes –




MAMA: – fires, destroying crops but also –


LEELA: Starting wildfires! That’s costly in more ways than one – you can lose your house and your life!


MAMA: Right. So wouldn’t it be great if we actually could know when and where lightning would strike!


LEELA: Whoa… Oh,  yeah!


MAMA: Well, chalk another point up for artificial intelligence, because now we can. Well,  almost. Thanks to new technology, being developed at the University of Wisconsin, among others places.


LEELA: Go technology, go technology! But, uhhh, how?


MAMA:  So you know AI, artificial intelligence, basically means that a computer –


LEELA: As in an “artificial brain.”


MAMA: More or less. Can analyze LOADS of information in super fast time, right?


LEELA: Yeah, like do the work of a hundred humans and in half the time.


MAMA: Or a thousand. Like what they’ve been doing with information gathered from a special satellite up in space with a special tracker, called the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). It’s been recording where lightning strikes in the US and nearby oceans, how often and how intense.




LEELA: Yikes! Good for it.


MAMA: Then the AI analyzes that data, finding the patterns, right, of what’s happening in the atmosphere just before and during lightning events. Then it compares that with the current weather and –


LEELA: Makes a prediction!


MAMA: You got it.


LEELA: So cool!


MAMA: I know, right? So far the AI can forecast lightning up to an hour ahead of time. And similar technology being developed in Switzerland predicts lightning strikes down to the nearest 10 to 30 minutes.


LEELA: Whoa!


MAMA: However.


LEELA: There’s always a “however.”


MAMA: It can’t yet predict exactly which building or exact which tree or which exact spot on the beach lightning will strike.


LEELA: OK. But it can give us a rough idea?


MAMA: Yep.


LEELA: Well, then, it’s a start.


MAMA: Quite a striking start, I’d say,  wouldn’t you?






LEELA: Alright – let’s stay with science but move over to some good pandemic news for a change.


MAMA: Yes, finally the US drug regulator – the FDA – granted full approval to the Pfizer Covid19 vaccine.


LEELA: Wait – haven’t people been getting vaccinated in the US since December?


MAMA: Right – but that was an “emergency-use authorization,” which most people were happy with because researchers weren’t exactly starting from scratch with this vaccine. Remember there are hundreds of coronaviruses — including one called SARS, which was an epidemic in 2002, for which they’ve been working on a vaccine.


LEELA: So what difference does the FDA approval make then?


MAMA: Well, as you know, there are still many people hesitant about taking the vaccine – which is hurting efforts to control the pandemic. So there’s hope this action will convince them that Pfizer’s shot is safe and effective.


LEELA: But India has some pr etty cool vaccine news too, right?


MAMA: Oh yeah – like you said earlier, there’s a new kid on the block – India has created its own vaccine for kids 12 and over.


LEELA: With a really cool name: Zydus.


MAMA: I know, right? And Zydus is the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, granted emergency use authorization, that’s built on a DNA platform. Simply put, that means it’s cheaper to make and doesn’t need ultra-cold storage systems.


LEELA: Which is hard in hot India.


MAMA: Right. Even better, the developers claim it can be easily adapted to deal with mutations or variations in the virus.


LEELA: It’s a win-win. Now – when can I have it?!


MAMA: Not until you’re 12, I’m afraid. Also, there is some criticism because no official information from the drug trials – when they were testing this vaccine – has been released.


Still, speaking of India’s vaccination efforts – you won’t believe the lengths that health officials here have gone to – to make sure some yak farmers got their shots.


LEELA: Yak – as in a wild ox – the kind with long horns and shaggy hair?


MAMA: Those, yes. Well, they graze in very high, hard-to-reach places and the farmers missed out on a vaccination drive. But that didn’t stop the vaccinators reaching them, as our correspondent Sahasra Sridhar is about to tell us.


LEELA: Take it away, Sahasra!


SAHASRA: Thanks, Leela.


You’re right, though India has given out nearly half a billion doses of the COVID19 vaccination – which is more than most other countries – it’s still only eight percent of the population.

But that’s not discouraging Indian officials, even those who have to reach people in remote areas.


Like the 16 villagers in North-Eastern India (Arunachal Pradesh).


They missed their vaccination appointment as they were looking after their grazing yaks (you know, yaks – those big, wild ox with shaggy hair and long horns).


So the health workers said if they can’t “make it to the camp, then the camp would make it to their doorsteps!”


But that’s no easy journey.


Picture this: A small village, in a hilly region, with a river cutting through it.


And when I say hilly, I mean 14,000 feet above sea level – that’s half the height of Mount Everest, 1400 elephants giraffes stacked on top of each other!


And there’s NO road that can be accessed by cars or even motorbikes or even bicycles!


So trekking by foot is the only option.


Oh, yes, these health care workers cut through dense, damp forests.




Then swampy stretches.




Not to mention climbing two of the toughest peaks in the district.


For nine hours.


Did I mention there was incessant, or continuous, rain?


That’s some dedication for you.


In India, I’m Sahasra Sridhar, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!


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: US President Joe Biden says his troops are on track to meet the August 31 deadline to leave Afghanistan, despite calls for an extension.  “The sooner we finish the better,” he said.


It’s still tense for Afghans on the ground – especially working woman who’ve been told to stay at home. The  ruling Taliban say this is only until proper systems are in place to ensure their safety. But many women fear it’s just an excuse to shut them out.


“You are not a horse” or a cow, for that matter. That’s coming straight from the US’s Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, as people are poisoned after using medicine – meant for large animals – to treat or even just prevent Covid-19. “Seriously, y’all,” the agency tweeted. “Stop it.”


The flame is lit on the Paralympic Games after a colourful opening ceremony in Tokyo. The Paralympics feature athletes with disabilities competing in hundreds of events, across 22 different sports.


And speaking of the Olympics, the Polish javelin thrower Maria Andrejczyk has a heart of gold. The bone cancer survivor sold the new silver medal she won at the Tokyo Olympics to raise $125,000 dollars to help fund a lifesaving surgery for a sick baby.




LEELA: Why thank you kindly for that whippity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making the headlines around the world!


MAMA: Most welcome. Now, Thursday, August 26, is International Dog Day.


LEELA: Ah, of course. It comes after International Cat Day. Makes sense.


MAMA: It’s not a competition.


LEELA: Of course not. That would be silly. (Meeeow.) Just kidding! I loooooove dogs too! All of them – the big ones, the small ones, the shy ones and the jumpy-uppy ones.


MAMA: Well, did you know there are 197 breeds to take your fancy – with around 80 more breeds likely to be classified in the coming years. That’s according to the  American Kennel Club (AKC).


LEELA: Wowzers!


MAMA: But I’d also like to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that dog years have had a revamp, in case you missed that bone to chew on.




LEELA: Ha ha, good one.


MAMA: Yep, research has done away with the old notion of dog years being: one dog year is the equivalent, or like, seven human years.


LEELA: Right. It’s a little more complicated but a lot more interesting than that. As we reported last year.


MAMA: Uh-huh. One of our earliest episodes –


LEELA: – Episode 2 in fact.


MAMA: Yep – so you can go to our website’s podcast page and check it out.


LEELA: And hear how young I sounded back then!


MAMA: It’s cute. But, yes, you’ve grown up a lot this last year. Now, to mark International Dog Day we are going to hear from one of our New Delhi reporters – Arav Skillz – who’s love for his own dog has taken him on a journey to discover that some people don’t treat dogs very well. And hoping to make a change for the better, he’s created a docu-series about this and other issues he thinks needs attention.


When and why did you become a dog lover?

ARAV SKILLZ: (not transcribed)


What’s the name of your dog and what’s your favourite thing that your dog does and/or best memory so far?

ARAV SKILLZ: (not transcribed)


What inspired you to do your debut episode of your docuseries about animal cruelty?

ARAV SKILLZ: (not transcribed)


LEELA: Thanks a lot for sharing your story, Arav. YOu sure have “skillz.”


MAMA: And you can check out his docu-series by visiting his YouTube page @AravSkillz – or check him out on our website – NewsyPooloozi.com – on the contributors page, which has a link to his channel.


LEELA: And finally… Our lucky dip story




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: An odd pet, in fact.


MAMA: OK. Are you talking about a dancing turtle?


LEELA: Uh, no. Is that a thing?


MAMA: No – but you said odd pet so…


LEELA: This is a story that might ring – or should I say sting – a few alarm bells, actually.


MAMA: Oh. Like that pet snake in Austria that made its way into a neighbors toilet bowl, surprising the neighbor with a snakebite in a sensitive place.


LEELA: Yikes! No – but that was a seriously funny story – we’re happy to say the bite wasn’t bad. But I’m talking about something a little buzzier.




LEELA: Play the music, Mama.




LEELA: Once upon a time, just a few days ago, a 13-year-old from Coventry, England – Lacey Shillinglaw  – spotted a large bumblebee lying in the road while on a walk with her family.


When she scooped up the bee, she noticed it had a crumpled wing, the poor thing.


But when she tried to put on some nearby flowers, hoping it would find the group of bumblebees, which is called a colony, that it had come from.


But no – it refused to stay put, buzzing back over to her.


In fact, kinda crawling all over her.


So she tried again.


And again. And again.


Finally, she just headed home with the creature perched on her shoulder.


SOUNDBITE FROM LACEY’S FAMILY MEMBER: Lacey’s made a little friend… Or put it on a rock, cause if the wind blows it’ll go off… Oh, Lace, I think it just wants to stay on you, darling… Just keep her with you.“


Once again, she tried to leave the busy bee somewhere safe in the garden of her house.


But no.


The bee refused to leave Lacey’s side.


So Lacey gave in, brought the bee inside and named it Betty.


Now, when Betty’s not sleeping on Lacey’s bedside table, she follows the 13-year-old everywhere – on walks to the shops, outings with friends and once to a bowling alley!


Sometimes she buzzes around Lacey – sometimes she just chills out, perched on Lacey’s glasses.


That sure does give new meaning to the term Bee-FF – wouldn’t you say!


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 – New technology is helping predict when and where lightning might strike, which is good news as lightning is hot and deadly. How hot does the the air around a flash of lighting get?

Five times hotter than the sun’s surface.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – On average how many people die every year from lightning in the US versus India?

20 people in the US versus 2000 people in India are killed by lightning each year.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 –  The FDA has finally granted approval for the Pfzier vaccine – but researchers weren’t exactly starting from scratch with this vaccine. There are hundreds of coronaviruses out there they’ve been researching for years. What was the name of the 2002 coronavirus that caused an epidemic?



LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – August 26 is International Dog Day. Go on, give a dog some love! And according to the  American Kennel Club (AKC) just how many breeds of dogs are listed in the world right now?

197 – that’s a lot to choose from!


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – A girl from England has befriended a bumblebee – after rescuing the creature, it refuses to leave the girl’s side, rather than go back to its own kind. And just what is a group of bumblebees called? A colony.


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 in your own time!


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


But first – whoa-whoa-whoa – thank you for the love on Apple Podcast USA this week.


MAMA: Micha give us a 5 star review and lots of emojis – thank you. And Girl 337 says “This is plain fun – this podcast is amazing, It gives me news and more. Keep the AMAZING work up.”


LEELA: Oh, we will now, you can count on it!




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See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!