Rover on Mars, cloned ferret, flying car, Stonehenge moved, foul fatberg

Feb 24, 2021 Episode 35

Perseverance on Mars, endangered ferret cloned, flying cars ready for take-off, second-hand Stonehenge, rowing teacher and foul fatberg!

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.


And joining me in our high-tech studio (under the bed!) in New Delhi is… my co-host and mama…


MAMA: Hello, I’m Lyndee Prickitt. And what a packed-podcast we have this week…


LEELA: Packed full of the world of wow – in other words – science.


From the stunning videos of the Mars Perseverance landing – and just what’s expected of this powerful red planet rover…


To astonishing news about what scientists have done… to a ferret on the brink of extinction


And that’s not all…


SFX Of airline announcement bell


The first-ever flying car has been approved for take-off!


If ALL that’s too futuristic for you…


Then there’s the news of Stonehenge – experts think that ancient English circle of stones came ALL the way from Wales!


Speaking of long journeys, heard about the swimming teacher who row, row, rowed her boat all the way across the Atlantic Ocean?


And forget about icebergs – got any idea what a fatberg is? Well, one the size-of-a-house is clogging a London sewer!


So, hold your nose and stay tuned.


But, first it’s time for…


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


MAMA: The entry, decent and landing of a rover on to the planet Mars has been called by astronauts – the “seven minutes of terror” and now there’s video and audio to prove it.




MAMA: Surprisingly the footage wasn’t captured by some special astrophysics camera but an ordinary action camera, which an athlete might put in a race car or on a skateboard to record their dazzling maneuvers.


LEELA: This time the dazzle was out-of-the-world – capturing the moment the “biggest supersonic parachute ever sent into space” opens up…




MAMA: And then swirl of Martian dust and grit being kicked up as the vehicle is lowered by its rocket backpack to the floor of the most challenging target ever landed upon.


LEELA: You just HAVE to see these videos. Six cameras were used to capture the key events. Nasa says the video – and the landing, of course – is an example of the agency at its best.


MAMA: In case you haven’t we’ll put them on our Facebook Community page, of course. Now, as a reminder – the Perseverance Rover is a special vehicle designed to move across the harsh, freezing terrain of Mars. And it’s on a mission –


LEELA: To search for ancient life on the red planet!


MAMA: Yes – and, while we’re on the subject – bonus points if you can tell me what perseverance means?


LEELA: OK – I got this… Ummmm… tenacity! Never giving up, despite difficulties or failing – to just keep going.


MAMA: Yes, ma’am. And guess what? You can tune in to hear what that “perseverance” on Mars sounds like, as the team has managed to get a microphone operating on-the-ground as well.


LEELA: Speaking of the team… we have to mention someone special.


MAMA: Yes, we do. India is quite proud of Indian-American Dr Swati Mohan, the voice you’ve been hearing from the mission… And the one who first confirmed that the rover landed.


DR SWATI MOHAN: “Touchdown confirmed!”


MAMA: She’s been with the mission since the beginning and made history last week, when she calmly steered the controls and landing system of the rover, navigating the difficult touchdown, while the world watched.


DR SWATI MOHAN: “Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking signs of past life.”




LEELA: But that’s not where this week’s scientific achievements end – oh, no.






LEELA: What’s that, you ask? Well… move over Frankenstein… scientists have a new creation – the cloned black-footed ferret, called Elizabeth Ann. And she’s soooo adorable.


MAMA: Yes, cloning means creating exact copies of a living thing using the information found in the cells that make up that thing.


LEELA: And cells are the smallest functioning unit of an organism. And humans have not just billions, but trillions of cells.  So even for a ferret – that’s a LOT of copying those scientists had to do.


MAMA: And, not just any ferret. Not only was it copied from an endangered species, but it’s the clone of a ferret that had died over 20 years ago.


LEELA: What now…?


MAMA: Well, the original ferret had been sent to a “frozen zoo” when it died, which maintains the cells from more than 1,100 species and subspecies worldwide.


LEELA: Wow… So does that mean all endangered species can be brought back to life?


MAMA: Well, I think the idea is to help those species that are around but endangered today.


LEELA: Gotcha. And now – if your jaw hasn’t dropped already… then buckle up.


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”




LEELA: Ladies and gentlemen – we have a special in-flight announcement: “the first-ever flying car has been approved for take-off!”


MAMA: For more on this let’s cut across to the state of Massachusetts in the US where our correspondent Ari Kelly has the story.


LEELA: Take it up, up and away, Ari!


ARI: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or… is it a car?


Well, soon it will be a “road-able aircraft.”


Because the US Federal Aviation Administration has awarded certificate of airworthiness to a “Special Light-Sport Aircraft.”


What’s that? A plane that can come down from the sky and onto our roads.


Well, eventually. The certificate has been awarded to a prototype – that means it’s the first one, the tester – called Transition.


It’s from a company right here in Massachusetts, called Terrafugia.


But while the two-seater is ready to fly, its DRIVING abilities are still being developed and won’t be completed for another year.


Then it still needs to meet more safety standards from the FAA AND the US National Highway AND the Traffic Safety Administration.


So it will be a while before you see one of these Transitions at your local traffic light, but still – this paves the way.


In Boston, Massachusetts, I’m Ari Kelly of “At Your Level” podcast, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi




LEELA: Thanks a lot for that report, Ari.  And if all that world of wow news was a little too futuristic for you, don’t worry… there’s big news about ancient England.


MAMA: Stonehenge to be precise – that super-cool circle of stones that were placed together long ago.


LEELA: Long before humans had the tools or trucks to make it easy! How did they do that?!


MAMA: Well, if you’re wondering that – you’re mind is going to explode with this latest bit of information. Turns out the job was A LOT harder than we think. And for this, we’re going to –


LEELA: A new correspondent not far from Stonehenge at all – Gwen Rose.



GWEN: Thanks you guys.


One of the mysteries of ancient England is – how did Stonehenge – those mysterious monoliths – get built?


There were well over 100 massive stones – some twice the height of a tall person and super-duper heavy – all placed upright in circles.


No easy task…! In fact experts think it took well over a thousand years to construct Stonehenge – 5000 years ago.


When there were no trucks! Or motorized cranes to lift such heavy things.


As if that weren’t puzzling enough – new research, from the Stones of Stonehenge project, suggests the stones came all the way from Wales!


Yep, archaeologists think early Brits dug up these bluish stones from the Pembrokeshire coast over 5000 years ago and erected a stone circle nearby.


They even found tools at the site, suggesting it was indeed a stone-age quarry.


Then – at some LATER point –  they dragged those stones over 140 miles to  Salisbury. Impressive or what?


LEELA: Wow, Gwen – that’s amazing. To think Stonehenge might be a “second-hand monument!” Talk about up-cycling! Still, I wouldn’t have liked to draaaaaag those stones 140 miles, would you? But I hear that’s not all to your story… I believe this new research also supports a wild legend about the mythical wizard Merlin?


GWEN: The story goes that Merlin ordered GIANTS to move Stonehenge from Ireland – which is across the water from Wales – and rebuild it in Salisbury.


Well, I don’t know about you… but that’s beginning to seem quite possible to me!


In Oxfordshire, I’m Gwen Rose, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi


LEELA: Thanks a lot, Gwen.


MAMA: And by the way, Gwen is a kid podcaster too.


LEELA: Yep – she has a super cool podcast called “Gwen Gets to Work” where she interviews adults about what jobs they do. Wait… let’s get Gwen to explain it. Come back, Gwen!


GWEN: Thanks, Leela. I wanted to this podcast so all the girls, boys and me could learn about what adults actually do all day. And maybe find even out what I’d like to be when I grow up. Tune in to hear episodes with all sorts of grown-ups, from doctors to comedian, architects to farmers, a chocolate factory  owner and even a president. You can find “Gwen Gets to Work” where ever you get your podcasts.




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: Professional golfer Tiger Woods is undergoing surgery after suffering “multiple leg injuries” in a car crash in California. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said it responded to a single-car rollover accident in which the “vehicle sustained major damage.”


Authorities in Israel are trying to locate the source of an oil spill that caused one of the most severe ecological disasters in the country. Blobs of sticky tar started washing up on Israel’s shores last week, threatening wildlife, forcing beaches to close and prompting a mass cleanup.


Good news for thrill-seekers in Hong Kong as Disneyland reopens on the island after being closed due to a fourth wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the city. But if you want to visit, you’ll have to provide full contact-tracing details.


And it’s not every day you see a 10-and-a-half foot-long crocodile being wheeled into surgery… But that’s what happens when you eat a shoe that’s fallen off a ziplining tourist at a zoo in Florida. For two months zoo keepers hoped the shoe would exit the croc’s body naturally. But no. Luckily for the big beast, the surgery was successful. The shoe, however, can no longer be worn.


LEELA: Well, that was a fun whiz around the world! And now…




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


LEELA: And for this we go to our sports correspondent, Yuvraj Singh Sahni, who has a story about a powerful teacher.


MAMA: Wait – didn’t you say this was sports news?


LEELA: Yes ma’am. A twenty-one-year-old swimming teacher to be exact. Here’s a clue: “row, row, row your boat… powerfully across the…” Oh, you tell us the story, Yuvraj!


YUVRAJ: Thanks, Leela! You won’t believe what this swimming teacher from Yorkshire, England recently did.


21-year-old Jasmine Harrison isn’t just a great swimmer, but a world-class rower.


And to prove it she decided to row – all by herself – in a small boat across the Atlantic Ocean!


Yes, that’s three-thousand miles (or nearly five-thousand kilometers) of row, row, rowing her boat across the Atlantic.


She had to row for two hours and then sleep for two hours. Row then sleep. Row then sleep. For seventy days!


I’m tired just thinking about it! Think of those humongous waves she had to row over.


Two days before she reached the end – guess what happened?


Her boat capsized! That means it overturned in the water!


Scary! But that didn’t stop Jasmine. She made it to the end, becoming the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.


I’m Yuvraj Singh Sahni, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!


LEELA: Thanks, Yuvraj! I play every summer in the Atlantic Ocean and it’s not a gentle tide, I can tell you that.


And finally…




ODDBALL STING – LEELA/MAMA/JACKSON: “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: No. If only this were just a ball… But sadly… what they found in a sewer in London was as big as a one-story house.


MAMA: Uh, what?


LEELA: Get ready to hold your nose for this one!




LEELA: So, we all know what an iceberg is, but do you have any idea what a FAT-BERG is?


MAMA: Is this some new made up word?


LEELA: It’s the real deal. Here – let’s look it up.


MAMA: Oh, a real dictionary. OK… F… F-A…. Here it is… Oh… Ewww:


A fatberg is a solid lump of waste matter in a sewer system formed by the combination of flushed non-biodegradable solids, such as wet wipes, cooking fat and or congealed grease. Yuck!


LEELA: Solid sewage. As big as a house.


MAMA: Ewwww.


LEELA: It took cleaners AND engineers two weeks to clear it. They not only used high-powered water jets…




LEELA: …but even had to use hand tools to chip-chip-chip away at the fatberg. Needless to  say, London authorities are asking people not to pour grease down the drain or wet wipes or diapers or even cotton buds, ok?


MAMA: Yes, ma’am.





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


MAMA – FAB FACT NUMBER 1: Nasa released stunning videos of its Perseverance rover landing on Mars – but what is the mission?

The Perseverance Rover is on a mission in search ancient life on the red planet.


LEELA – FAB FACT NUMBER 2: And what does perseverance mean?

To have perseverance, or to persevere at something, means never giving up, despite difficulties, or failures. Another fancy word for perseverance is tenacity.


MAMA – FAB FACT NUMBER 3: Scientist have cloned an endangered black-footed ferret that died over 20 years ago. But what is cloning?

Creating an exact copy of living things using the information found in the cells of that living thing is cloning.


LEELA – FAB FACT NUMBER 4: Archeologists in the UK think that Stonehenge might have originally come all the way from Wales. But what is Stonehenge and how old is it?

Stonehenge is a circular formation consisting of over a 100 massive stones all placed upright in circles, which probably took over a thousand years to construct Stonehenge – around 5000 years ago.


MAMA – FAB FACT NUMBER 5: Engineers and cleaners in London had to water blast and chip away at a fatberg as big as a one-story house. But what is a fatberg?

A fatberg is a solid lump of waste matter in a sewer system formed by the combination of flushed non-biodegradable solids, such as wet wipes, cooking fat and or congealed grease. Yuck!




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


MAMA: Yes, we just wanted to first tell you about a new feature we have on our Facebook page –


On our hunt for good news stories to cover in Newsy Pooloozi every week we come across a LOT of cool stuff that we just don’t have room for.


LEELA: It’s so haaaarrrrrd to chose! And we then feel a little sad for the stories we turn away.


MAMA: So we’re going to include them all on our Facebook community page.


LEELA: With a tag called, Looky-looky!


MAMA: Yep, so the next time you’re having a lazy Sunday on the sofa or maybe when you’ve arrived early for some appointment and you want to see outstanding that makes your jaw drop –


LEELA: Drop down to your toes… Or just something to makes you go, “Ahhhh” –


MAMA: Then come to our Facebook page


LEELA: For a looky-looky!


MAMA: Looky-looky!


LEELA:  If you enjoyed this dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information… then do subscribe to our podcast on…  Apple Podcast, Spotify, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review.


See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!