Promising vaccine, college sports on hold, NEOWISE comet, no noisy windows, Canada’s drive-in art and England’s shocking pub
Jul 22, 2020 Episode 04
Hear about the race to find a COVID19 vaccine and how US college sports are on hold, also how to spot the biggest comet of your lifetime, never mind block your noisy neighbors. Find out about Toronto’s drive-in art gallery and an English pub that goes to shocking lengths to maintain social distancing.
OPENING STING – LEELA: “Newsy Pooloozi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to the latest episode of Newsy Pooloozi. It’s a busy news week, so let’s dive in.
I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.
MAMA: And I’m the sound-effect side-kick and big story explainer… Also known as, Leela’s mom.
LEELA: This week on Newsy Pooloozi we’ll hear about…
The good news that there might be coronavirus vaccine on the way! The bad news is the pandemic is forcing some US college sports to cancel their season. We’ll tell you the name and location of the biggest comet in the sky that you can see with your own eyes. The latest from the world of tech might mean you can block out noisy neighbor’s without shutting your windows. Well find out how a Toronto gallery is offering dramatic art in a socially distant way. And just for the fun of it, our luck dip takes us to a truly shocking English pub.
STING: But let’s hear a wrap from the biggest news stories of the week…. Hold on tight, it’s around the world
MAMA: In the US an icon of America’s civil rights movement and longtime member of Congress, John Lewis, died of cancer at the age of 80. The charismatic Georgian was a central figure in the key civil rights battles of the 1960s .
Twitter is increasing its security after a series of high-profile accounts were recently hacked, including Barack Obama, Elon Musk and Kim Kardashian. Twitter said it was still trying to work out if private data – which could include direct messages – was stolen.
Hong Kong is tightening social distancing measures amid growing worries about a third wave of coronavirus infections. That means Disneyland in the Chinese-ruled city has closed again. The government is limiting gatherings to four people.
Bad news for Polar Bears – global warming is pushing them to the edge of existence. Scientists say by the end of this century the big white bears could become extinct as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if climate change continues.
And in England thousands of flying ants suddenly appeared across parts of London and surrounding areas. It happens when young queen ants, followed by males, leave their nests to breed and start new colonies but only when it’s a warm, humid and windless not normal weather for England… which is why more and more go on the same rare, hot and humid day.
LEELA: Whhhooo… Thanks for that fast flash around the world. And now… it’s time to tackle… the Big News Story of the Week.
MAMA: So, we know that ever since this nasty virus has surfaced the race was on… to find a vaccine.
But first, let’s make sure everyone knows what a vaccine is.
LEELA: OK. The bad part is you have to get a shot. But the good thing is you’re given a little bit of the virus believe it or not making you produce natural “anti-bodies which provide protection, or make you immune, from ever getting the disease.
MAMA: Right. So unlike medicines that you take after you get sick in hopes of being cured, vaccines prevent you from getting the disease in the first place.
LEELA: And if we can get one for COVID19 we can be free from this lockdown, free from masks and free go to school, and free to go out to eat, and to the movies, and free to go to visit friends……
MAMA: So that’s why the race is on to find one. There are 23 coronavirus vaccines around the world in what’s known as clinical trials because they’re trying them out in a very scientific, observing way.
LEELA: And it looks the lead horse, I mean, vaccine is the one being developed by Oxford University.
MAMA: Yep, it seems to have prompted that protective immune response, we just talked about, in hundreds of volunteers who got the shot. The vaccine also triggered long-lasting T cells, a type of white blood cell that “remembers” and attacks the coronavirus. But….
MAMA: We still don’t know how the vaccine will act in the real world. For instance, it might stop people from getting sick, that’s great. But does it also prevent them from passing the virus on? It’s too early to say… And Like in any race, it’s possible this news is a lot of hype.
LEELA: Hype? Like hyper?
MAMA: Well, no. Hype as in a lot of exaggerated publicity. Like Newsy Pooloozi is the biggest and best news podcast that everyone in the entire world listens to!
MAMA: That’s hype! And usually with every news story you have to find the facts sort of buried under the hype. Sometimes they support the hype. Sometimes they’re smothered by it.
LEELA: So, no end to the lockdown anytime soon…?
MAMA: Fraid not. But imagine the lockdown is like we’ve been walking in a pitch-black tunnel, just trusting that there’s an end. Now… We can see, way in the distance, a little light. And what’s the light?
LEELA: The end of the tunnel.
MAMA: Yes! And that’s the good news. And that’s why the race of 23 trial vaccines is great, because they’re all trying to get there first and so they’re making each other go faster and faster. And light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger and bigger.
LEELA: Staying with the coronavirus for fewwwww more minutes While we all want to know if our schools are going to reopen or not, there’s one extra-curricular activity that’s looking unlikely to kick off this autumn…
SPORTS STING: It’s time to play ball… Score… sports news!”
MAMA: Sports and athletics for US colleges and universities look set to be another lock-down loser.
LEELA: And sports are a BIG DEAL in American universities. It’s often where athletes go… before they “become pro”. Let’s cut across to the US to speak with our State-side sorts reporter, Porter Robbins.
PORTER: You’re absolutely right, Leela.
Most major-league teams – from American football to baseball and basketball – do their recruiting from the college circuit.
So this news comes as a real blow for many players, who were hoping to show off their sporting talents to recruiters.
It all started when a few players — from different sports AND in different states — came down with the virus.
Then a few more got it. And a few more. Then – not surprisingly – summer workouts for many teams were… suspended.
And you know what coach says: “If you don’t practice, you don’t play!”
And, of course, coaches just can’t guarantee if it’s safe enough yet for their players to compete… never mind travel to games!
Well, first it was the Ivy League that announced all their sports are ON HOLD until January. They’re part of Division 1.
So that sent loads of other college teams from football and basketball, to cross country, and even sailing – thinking about doing the same.
Soon several of the big Division One conferences announced that most of their sports would only play league games — IF they played at all…!
It’s sad news for college athletes AND the many businesses that depend on these games to draw in customers.
From Los Angeles, California, this is Porter Robbins reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!!!
LEELA: Now it’s time for…
STING: For the world of wow, wow, wow. In other words- Science!
LEELA: Ok, everyone what do you call a mammoth snow ball, zipping through space, wagging a fiery tail?
MAMA: I know this… a comet!
LEELA: You got it. And one of the brightest comets of my lifetime has come into view.
MAMA: Which is super cool. Because most of the comets – which are blobs of ice speeding through space – are usually too small and dim to be seen with our eyes, I mean, without a telescope.
LEELA: But not NEOWISE.
MAMA: Which stands for Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, the name of the telescope system that first spotted it.
LEELA: And if you think that’s a mouth-full, its official name is even less catchy: C-slash-20-20 F3.
So… Let’s stick with NEOWISE.
LEELA: Do you know the other cool thing about NEOWISE?
MAMA: Besides it’s great names?
MAMA: Go on then.
LEELA: It has two tails! Most comets have a tail, that’s when the ice particles fly off the comet and turn into gas when it gets too close to the sun.
But clever old Neo-wise, has a second tail, made of plasma that’s gas charged with electricity.
MAMA: Ewww la la. And that tail bends toward the Sun, right because of the Sun’s magnetic field. And you know what magnets do.
LEELA: They attract. Or pulls things to it.
MAMA: Yes! It’s like the sun’s magnetic field is saying, “come to me, come to me,” and there’s this bit of the comet can’t resist and so bends towards the sun.
LEELA: Making it a two-tailed comet. Now just how bright it is, will depend on how big the tail grows.
MAMA: Wait. I thought it was a fiery tail. This is the thing that always gets me about comets How can something be fire and ice?!
LEELA: It’s not really fire, Mama. (say in whisper)
MAMA: It’s not?
LEELA: Nahh, it’s just the falling off bits of ice reflect the Sun’s light and turns into gas.
MAMA: Ah! That makes much more sense. So, then I guess if there are lots of ice particles, reflecting the Sun’s light, the comet will look even brighter?
LEELA: Ek dum saheee! That’s Hindi, for most definitely! That’s what we’re hoping for.
Although… even at its closest on the 23rd of July 23 the comet will still be as far away from the Earth as Mars is.
MAMA: But it should still be bright enough to see – even without a telescope or binoculars. Just head out about an hour and a half after sunset. Obviously go to the darkest area you can.
LEELA: Then lie back and find the Big Dipper, follow its handle as it bends towards horizon where the earth meets the sky.
MAMA: And NEOWISE should appear under the Big Dipper about 10 degrees if you hold out your arm, 10 degrees is about the size of the sky covered by your fist above the horizon and it should be about as bright as the Big Dipper stars. So, get star-gazing tonight!
LEELA: (Coughs) Comet gazing.
MAMA: That’s what I meant. And tell us what you see! Come on, drop us an email.
LEELA: Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org – because I love emails. Now, moving on…
For our next story let’s leave our “soundproof studio” and head to the front room and open the windows to get some fresh air…
SFX: Noisy traffic, Noisy windows, shutting down windows
LEELA: As you know, our tech story today is about…
MAMA: Huh? Sorry I can’t hear you because of the noise… Shut the window! Ahhh… that’s better.
LEELA: Yeah, but, there’s no AC in this room and it’s really hot…
MAMA: And stuffy… I wish there…
LEELA: …was a way of letting in the fresh air but not the noise?
LEELA: Funny you should say that!
LEELA: Scientists at Southampton University in England have developed a special sound control system that can be fitted to an open window to allow fresh air to waft in but magically make the sounds from outside disappear (whisper that bit).
MAMA: Magic, Leela?
LEELA: Well, it’s complicated. It’s the same technology used with those noise-cancelling headphones…
MAMA: (laugh) Oh, the technology recognizes which sound waves are around and then actually creates and plays the opposite, and the sounds cancel each other out.
LEELA: That’s the one.
MAMA: Like if I were to draw a wavy line on a piece of paper…
LEELA: And then you draw another wavy line right next to it, but the opposite direction, so you’re closing those waves, they look more like circles. And sound would go, “VVwwwoop” – shut.
LEELA: Yeah. It’s pretty complicated, but in the experiment, they had a microphone, to catch the radio waves of the outside noise, and then they had 24 little speakers, each about the size of a toy car, to play the opposite radio wave, called the anti-noise. And whether you totally understand the science or not, the end result is a quieter, breezier room.
MAMA: Fabulous! When can we get one?
LEELA: Well, this is hot off the press, new news! This, like most scientific experiments, will take a little while before it’s turned into a product for sale in shops.
LEELA: Yeah, it could be another five to 10 years before you can buy such a device. But – you heard it here first!
STING: LEELA: Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and /or Entertainment.
LEELA: Last week we heard about super cool plans for a night of “cinema on the water” in Paris.
MAMA: Yep – that’s one way to ensure social distancing – every family stays in their own river boat.
LEELA: We also asked you to get in touch with us for some great ideas that other cities were doing
to try and offer art, culture and entertainment to people in creative, “pandemic-friendly” ways.
And we got another one! Thank you very much!
MAMA: Yep… This time it’s the Canadian city of Toronto that wins the prize for best socially distanced art event.
LEELA: So, you know most museums all over the world have closed down during the lockdown.
Well, there is one kind of art that’s perfectly suited for social distancing: digital art. And I’m not just talking about the stuff you can see on your phone or computers, which is pretty cool, for sure?
MAMA: But some artist is using digital technology to show off classic works of art, like one of the most famous painters in the world, Vincent Van Gogh. You might know his sunflowers or his self-portrait.
LEELA: Or Starry Night, which we drew in school. Our own versions, of course.
MAMA: So, imagine seeing Starry Night projected on a huge screen… but not just inside some movie theatre, but on an amazing looking building! That’s what the creators of “Van Gogh, Starry Night” did last year at a show in Paris.
LEELA: And so, an art gallery in Canada’s largest city decided to bring THAT show to a HUGE warehouse in Toronto and offer one part as “drive-in art gallery” and the other, an area you can walk around.
MAMA: Of course, the space is so vast you can get a gorgeous visual treat never mind fab Instagram snaps without worrying about catching the…
LEELA: …nasty old coronavirus!
MAMA: Well, done, Toronto! And, again, if anyone listening finds out their town is doing something cool or creative for their citizens in these strange COVID-19 times let us know.
LEELA: You know the address. But just in case, it’s email@example.com And finally, how about an electrifying Covid-19 story that may just shock you?
MAMA: Yep, our lucky dip, just for the fun of it story is about a pub in Cornwall… that’s a place towards the bottom of England with great beaches and lots of farms…
LEELA: This place has an unusual, some might even say shocking, way to keep adults safe when they buy their drinks!
MAMA: Our south England reporter, Jackson Hosking, is going to tell us more…
LEELA: Take it away, Jackson.
JACKSON: Hey Leela, the pub is called the Star Inn and you’ll never guess what the Landlord, Jonny McFadden, who runs the pub, has put around the actual bar area to ensure good social distancing?!
Not ropes to cordon off an area. Not traffic cones. But an electric fence! Yes, I’m talking about the type of fence farmers use to keep sheep in their field! This is his way of preventing customers from getting too close when they pay for their pints or bottles of beer. It also stops them from sitting at the bar.
I have to say, I’ve been shocked by an electric fence before…. I threw my ball into a farmer’s field by mistake and tried to get it back… the sting from the electric fence felt like a really strong buzz!
Well, there is a big yellow danger sign on the electric fence in the pub in Cornwall that reads: WARNING – ELECTRIC FENCE!
Mr McFadden jokingly says that simply seeing this warning sign and the electric fence is enough to make sure his customers follow the latest government guidelines and keep a good distance from each other – just like sheep!
He’s also told us a little secret. The electric fence around the bar is NOT ACTUALLY TURNED ON!
But hey, nothing really shocks us these days, hey Leela?
LEELA: Ha, ha… Good one, Jackson! That story sure did give me a bit of a jolt!
MAMA: Do you feel charged up and ready to go…
LEELA: Got any more?
MAMA: Synonyms? Puns?
LEELA: Yeah! I’m a hungry puppy for puns.
MAMA: Hmmmm…. Buzzed?
LEELA: (laughs) Yeah… Oh! I got one: wired!
MAMA: Nice one. But now that we’re wired up… it’s time to say….
LEELA: Good wire! I mean, good bye! And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!!
Remember… if you enjoyed this dip in the whirlpool of news and information then do subscribe to our podcast, and while you’re at it give us a good rating!
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MAMA: And if you want to get in touch, drop an email to… firstname.lastname@example.org
LEELA: See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!