Smart mouth-guards, new Olympic sports, Int’l Cat Day, two-headed turtle

Aug 4, 2021 Episode 58

High tech mouth-guards for impact sports, surfing and skateboarding Olympic-style, new app for International Cat Day and the two-headed turtle!

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, as ever, I’m joined by, wait, Porter Robbins, our sports correspondent???


PORTER: Hello, Leela. Hello, everyone.


LEELA: Where’s my Mama?


PORTER: I think she’s on the beach with my mom. She said since I’ve got the big story this week, she’ll take a break.


LEELA: Huh. Who’s gonna edit?


PORTER: Don’t worry, Leela. We got this.




LEELA: Porter?


PORTER: Ooops. Wrong button. We’re good. (Whispers) Go on, Leela!


LEELA: Uhhh… OK!


This week, revolutionary high-tech mouth-guards, could change the way athletes play high-impact sports.


Also, how do the surfers and skateboarders of the world feel about their sports now being part of the Olympics?


Sunday is “International Cat Day” and we have some purrrr-fect hi-tech news to celebrate.


And you won’t believe what a South Carolina Turtle Patrol just discovered – yes, you heard me right – a turtle patrol!


PORTER: Let’s go!


LEELA: Let’s start with…


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


PORTER: Well, Leela, this story is quite “a mouthful.”


LEELA: OK, but you’re our sports correspondent, not our food reporter?!


PORTER: OK, let me back up. Did you know that many sports can cause serious head injuries?


LEELA: What, like a ball hitting your head? That’s got hurt.


PORTER: Yeah – it does – trust me. But I’m talking about this.


SFX of football


PORTER: And this.


SFX of a rugby scrum


PORTER: Or, obviously, this.


SFX of boxing ring bell and punches

LEELA: Oww ! Eww… Aiiyaah… What is this, a fight?


PORTER: Pretty much. I’m talking American football, rugby and, of course, boxing. All major sports with lots of fans, lots of money and… lots of injuries.


LEELA: Ouch!


PORTER: You said it. And the worst injuries are the bumps that come hard –




PORTER: And fast –




PORTER: – to the head. Those are called concussions. They can give you anything from headaches to problems with concentration, memory,  even balance and co-ordination.




PORTER: Most of the time the effects are temporary. But there’s growing evidence that multiple concussions can cause long-term brain problems.


LEELA: Uh-oh. Then why do it?


PORTER: Because people love playing and watching the sports. But the good news is – technology is coming to the rescue.


LEELA:  Oh, oh, oh – so this is a sports-meets-tech story, hey?


PORTER: Yep, high tech computer chips are being placed in sports equipment to monitor head knocks. First they put them in helmets, but that didn’t work.




PORTER: Well, get this, turns out helmets move differently than human heads do. Who knew?! So the data collected from those sensors weren’t quite right. But There’s another bit of equipment that athletes from all these fields wear: mouth-guards.


LEELA: What are mouth-guards?


PORTER: You know, those are the rubbery coverings that go around a player’s teeth that act as shock absorbers, stopping teeth from getting knocked out and tongues bit off.


LEELA: YUUUuuuuuck!


PORTER: So these “smart guards”  are fitted with a tiny chip.


That logs all the major head bumps players get – even the ones that don’t cause concussion symptoms at the time, but can add up to a later problem.


But with the smart guard, the players can get treatment early on.


They’ll also compare data with video footage and see if there are certain moves that do more damage than others.


LEELA: Very cool.


PORTER: Well, the Australian Football League has been trialing this revolutionary technology from a company called HitIQ for two years. Soon every player will be wearing one. Even junior teams.


The World Rugby Association is also introducing them, though it’s using the US brand, Prevent Biometrics.


LEELA: Awesome. So when will America football teams, and boxers, start using it?


PORTER: Good question. The NFL started a pilot program in 2019 with players on four teams wearing them. We’re waiting to hear what they’ve found.


LEELA: Hmmm, the pandemic has probably delayed things?


PORTER: Probably. But one thing is for sure – technology sure is making an impact on sports. Get it? An “impact.”




LEELA: Ha, ha, ha! Good one, Porter. And thanks for bringing us the big news story. But don’t go anywhere – I need you here for the rest of the episode!


LEELA: Ha, ha, ha! Good one, Porter. And thanks for bringing us the big news story. But don’t go anywhere – I need you here for the rest of the episode!




LEELA: In fact – we’re gonna stay with sports, because I want your take on the new additions to the Olympic Games – in particular, skatingboarding and surfing. Two of your favorite pastimes, I happen to know!


PORTER: You said it!


LEELA: So both sports require a lot of fitness and skill but have always been more of a sort of cool “counter culture” sport, right? As in not part of the mainstream.


I mean, no one has skateboarding lessons in PE class!




LEELA: That’s kinda the appeal, right? So – the big question is – how do fans, and the pros, feel about it now being part of THE OLYMPICS?


PORTER: Good question, Leela. You’re right that to some people skating’s always been seen as street-sport and surfing as just having-fun-at-the-beach more than a serious “athletic endeavor.”


But, so much fitness, skill AND hard work goes into mastering both sports. So most people in the community are pretty stoked they’re finally getting global recognition.


In fact it was a longtime dream of the “father of surfing” Duke Kahanamoku – otherwise known as “The Big Kahuna.”


The Native Hawaiian was a five-time Olympic medallist in swimming, but his other love was surfing, which he helped make popular last century.


On the other hand, Tony Hawk – who’s considered the “godfather of modern skateboarding” – did say two years ago he was concerned the Olympic platform would inspire kids to skate just for fame or fortune.


But he seems to have changed his mind – since he was the NBC commentator for the Olympic skateboarding events!


And he was there in person, taking pictures of the skaters, like a proud dad.


LEELA: That’s the thing about The Olympics. When you start watching aaall that talent –

from all over the world but united in friendly competition – you can’t help but be amazed, right?


PORTER: Totally, Leela! That’s SO true!


LEELA: Well, thanks for those insights, Porter. Now let’s see if we can get my Mama off the beach and  into our magic hot air balloon to get her to whizz around the world and tell us what’s making the news.


PORTER: Sounds good to me. Should I play the sting?


LEELA: Go for it!




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: The Delta variant of COVID19 is causing worry around the world. The CDC in the US is urging unvaccinated Americans to get protected and mandatory mask wearing is popping in many areas. Meanwhile, in Africa, where countries have struggled to get hold of vaccines, the death-toll from the virus rose rapidly the last month, surging by 80 percent.


Researchers from Stanford University have detect light echoes –  from behind a supermassive black hole for the first time. They say the black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting magnetic fields around itself.


Girls do better without boys at school, according to a new study from the UK. Girls studying at single-sex schools are more mentally tough than those from co-ed campuses, due to a lack of harmful gender roles and the absence of male domination in traditional subjects.


Fans of gymnastic superstar, Simone Biles, are applauding her courage to say she wasn’t “OK” when she pulled out of several Olympic events last week. But they were heartened she was back on the balance beam – nailing her routine and getting a bronze.


She wasn’t the only determined superwoman. Dutch runner Sifan Hassan picked herself up from a fall on the last lap of her 1500m race after tripping over an athlete who’d fallen in front of her. Hassan then went on to win gold in the 5000m final, later the same day.


PORTER: Why thank you for that – hold on, let me see if I can do this – that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of world news! Pheeeew!


LEELA: Well done, Porter! And thanks, Mama, for coming in from the beach to bring us the headlines from around the world. And now…


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


LEELA: As I’m sure everyone knows – Sunday is International Cat Day! Though, really, every day should be international cat day.


PORTER: Uhhh, oooo-kaaay…


LEELA: Well, to celebrate we have some great tech news for cat lovers!


So we’ve reported on Newsy Pooloozi before about two different apps that can help “read” if your pets are happy or not.




PORTER: And HOW do they do that???


LEELA: With the help of AI, of course.




LEELA: Yes, artificial intelligence. So, basically thousands and thousands of photos of cats and dogs were taken when they were in different moods.


And those photos were fed into a computer, so the AI could come up with a formula to determine which expressions were happy and which were sad. But this new app is a little different.


It’s just for cats for a start, so no wonder it’s called the ‘Tably‘ app. So cute.


It’s  from a Canadian animal-health technology company. And it focuses on telling you if your furry feline is in pain (the poor darling).


It uses something called the “feline grimace scale” or FGS for short.


A 2019 study published in the Scientific Reports journal found that the FGS is a reliable tool for pain assessment in cats.


It looks at five things on the cat’s face:

Ear position

Whisker position

Head position

Muzzle tension (that means how tense their jaw is)


And a really fancy one – Orbital tightening – in other words: how much their eyes are squinting.


Cool or what? I’m totally going to try this out on my cats!


Of course, you’d have to keep your cats super still to take a good picture.


According to one Tably user, her cat was really young when she found out he had arthritis – that’s when the joints around the bones swell up and hurt.


Well, the app was able to track when her cat was having good days and when he was having bad days.


It’s also useful to clinics, allowing vets to remotely monitor their patient’s recovery.


We have to say, the app has had some good reviews and some… not so good reviews.


A lot of vets say it’s best to use your own eyes if you want to know if your feline is feeling fine.


I agree!


I mean, when the neighborhood dogs come around my cats, I can tell they’re scared, because they hold their tails really tight and they fluff up.


Don’t need an app for that!




Still, who doesn’t like taking snaps of their cat and analyzing them alllll day, anyway?


Happy international cat day!


Here’s a good kitty…





PORTER: Thanks for that report, Leela!


LEELA: Why you’re most welcome, Porter. And now, let’s head on over to the lucky dip machine and see what it spits out for us today.


PORTER: Awesome! I’ve always wanted to see the Newsy Pooloozi Lucky Dip machine – sweeeeeet!


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: Odd for sure. First of all, it’s not every day we get to report about a Sea Turtle Patrol. Oh, yes. And you’ll never guess what they found along the East Coast of America in South Carolina.


PORTER: Sounds like we need to head down the coast to our South Carolina correspondent, Julia Goldman. Take it away, Julia!


JULIA: Thanks, Porter and Leela!


Members of the Edisto Beach State Park Sea Turtle Patrol (yes, that’s a real thing!) conduct regular nest inventories along the coast.




Well, when baby turtles hatch, they look to the moonlight reflecting on the water to guide them out to sea at night.


But as humans have taken over most of the coast, the turtles get confused by the lights on homes and shops, so they don’t always make it out to sea.


That’s where the Sea Patrol steps in.


Officials and volunteers keep an eye on the loggerhead sea turtle nests, counting the hatched eggs, the unhatched eggs and sometimes even finding live sea turtle hatchlings.


Well, that was case a few days ago when the patrol found three live hatchlings still in their chamber.


But one was no ordinary sea turtle – because it had… wait for it…. two heads!


It’s very adorable, in fact.


The phenomenon of having two heads is usually because of a genetic mutation and it doesn’t only happen to turtles.


It’s known as “polycephaly,” which can happen to other reptiles – sometimes the heads protrude from opposite sides of the reptile’s body!


Well, you’ll be pleased to know the Edisto sea turtle patrol released the hatchlings into the sea – including the little two-headed baby.


Let’s hope the expression – two heads are better than one – proves true!


In South Carolina, USA, I’m Julia Goldman, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!


PORTER: Whoaaaa… What a story!


LEELA: Yeah…! Thanks so much, Julia! I’d sure do a “double take” if I saw that. Get it?



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


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Special high-tech mouth-guards are being developed to help protect athletes suffering from concussions when playing high-impact sports, like football, rugby or boxing. What are concussions?

A knock-out blow to the head that can give you headaches, as well as problems with concentration, memory, even balance and co-ordination.


PORTER: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Surfing and skateboarding are now Olympic sports, which would have made the Hawaiian man known as the “father” of surfing very happy. Who was that?

Duke Kahanamoku – otherwise known as “The Big Kahuna!”


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – A new app can help tell if your feline is feelin’ pain, using something called the “feline grimace scale” – which looks at what five things?

It looks at a cat’s ear position, whisker position, head position, muzzle or jaw tension and orbital tightening – in other words: eye squints.


PORTER: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – A unique two-headed sea turtle was discovered in South Carolina by the local Sea Turtle Patrol. Why is such a patrol necessary?

Because the turtles can mistake artificial light for moonlight, which is supposed to guide them into the water.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – What’s the big fancy word for being born with two-heads? Polycephaly


LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!! Nice hosting with you, Porter.


PORTER: Yeah, I enjoyed it. I could get used to this.


LEELA: Uh-oh… watch out, Mama.




PORTER: If you enjoyed this dip in the whirlpool of news and information then do subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts.


LEELA: While you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review.


PORTER: Alrighty, then… That’s a wrap!


LEELA: See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!