Wildfires explained, our “Connected” world, rooftop alphorns, loneliest elephant, shocking fly trap
Sep 16, 2020 Episode 12
Why are fires tearing across the West Coast of America? We break it down. We also shout from the rooftops about our fav science show, Netflix’s “Connected,” we hear about a rooftop concert in Germany, the loneliest elephant in the world and a fly trap that goes wrong in France.
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – a whirlpool of news and information for curious minds like me.
MAMA: And me!
LEELA: I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.
MAMA: And I’m Lyndee Prickitt.
LEELA: My Mama! And we have a packed podcast this week, so let’s dive on in… With wildfires still raging in America’s West, we’re going to answer the flaming, hot question: why! We’ll also hear about the rescue of the loneliest elephant in the world… What science show we want to shout about from our rooftops… And what rooftop concert gives a new meaning to the word orchestrated… Finally, we’ll hear a shocking tale of a pesky fly. But first, let’s get a run-down on all the stories making headlines around the globe…
MAMA: Big news in the milkyway… scientists think they’ve detected living organisms in the clouds floating over Venus. It’s a gas called Phosphine, which here on Earth is associated with teeny-tiny microbes living in swamps or the guts of animals. While this discovery has to confirmed, it could mean life is more common in our galaxy than previously thought.
Reshaping the middle east… The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have signed an agreement with Israel to normalize relations after decades of conflict. The deal was negotiated by the United States Trump administration, which says Saudi Arabia might be next to sign on and could help finally end the Israeli-Arab.
In India the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India passes the 5 million people mark. It’s behind only to the US, which is the worst-hit nation in the world with 6.7 confirmed infections.
And, when is a single dollar with ten million dollars? Well, when it’s the Flowing Hair silver dollar coin, which features a portrait of Lady Liberty on one side and an American eagle on the other. It set a world record when it was bought for over $10 million dollars seven years ago. Well, it’s back on the market and expected to fetch even more this time.
LEELA: Whooo… Thanks for that fast flash around the world. And now… it’s time to tackle… the Big News Story of the Week.
MAMA: Well, this is a story that we reported on last week and the week before… Sadly, it’s a story that’s not going away.
LEELA: And we’re not talking about the coronavirus… for once!
MAMA: True, this is another big story here’s your clue… it’s tearing across the west coast of America.
MAMA: Yes. More than a quarter of the worst wildfires ever recorded have happened this year alone. Five million acres of land has burned that’s like 5 million football fields burnt to a cinder. And along with it more than six thousand homes have been destroyed and 36 people have lost their lives.
LEELA: It’s so scary…
MAMA: It really is. And the worst thing is, many of these wildfires were started by humans. Most of the time it’s an accident, but still. Let’s break this down a bit and found out how this is happening and why it’s so bad this year.
LEELA: Number 1: how do wildfires start and spread so fast… Well, a spark, obviously!
MAMA: Yes, that’s the first element. And the spark can be natural like lightening or the sun on a super-hot and dry day, but 90% of the time wildfires on this Earth are started because of humans. Most of the time it’s an accident. Maybe someone was camping and they started a nice camp fire, but they didn’t put it out properly. Or they weren’t watching it carefully and it spread. Maybe a smoker threw their cigarette on the ground when it was still lit, catching other leaves on fire. Or maybe a bar-b-q pit got a bit too big and flames caught a passing leaf on fire. In fact, most recently one of those little confetti sparklers at a party did just that threw sparks into the dry scrubland and poof!
Are you sensing a theme here?
LEELA: Humans being careless.
MAMA: Yes. We have to be more aware and careful. But also, the second element needed for a fire to really spread is fuel something that burns easily, like evergreen trees, which, believe it or not, contain oil and oil burns. What else burns? Super dry leaves and old, brown grass. California has a lot of that because they don’t get enough…
MAMA: That’s right. There’s been record-breaking heat-waves. So, no rain for a long time is called…
LEELA: A drought! We have a lot of those in India.
MAMA: Yes, that’s right. But there’s a third element that makes a little fire spread super-fast and become a real beast to contain…
SFX: of wind
MAMA: Otherwise known as…
MAMA: We breath it…
LEELA: Air! I mean, oxygen!
MAMA: Yes. This is called the fire triangle three things that create wildfires: a heat source, or spark. Fuel or something that burns. And Oxygen especially wind. And sadly, that’s been the latest challenge for the thousands of fire-fighters trying to stop this thing: it’s been especially windy recently. Luckily there are thunderstorms forecast up in the northwest of the country, but with that will also come lightening.
LEELA: Uhhhggg… it’s a vicious cycle!
MAMA: Yes. Sadly.
LEELA: But Mama… why would people want to live there if there are always wildfires. I wouldn’t!
MAMA: Well, that’s the thing. It didn’t used to be this bad. There didn’t used to be as many droughts, for a start. Scientists believe these becoming more common droughts are a result of climate change.
LEELA: Oh, all this wacky weather, because the earth is getting warmer, because we’re burning so many greenhouse gases!
MAMA: Yes! You got it! However, there is another view… That maybe the land needs to be looked after better, cleared of the old scrubby bits, so they don’t catch fire so easily.
LEELA: That’s a good idea. It could be a business. But… Uhhhhh… what did you say about, 5 million football fields worth of land…?! Isn’t that a lot?
MAMA: It’d be a big job… Let’s just hope people become more careful about what they do in super dry, highly inflammable, that’s means easy to burn, land in fields the meantime. Because it’s all…
LEELA: Connected! It’s time for…
STING: For the world of wow, wow, wow… In other words -science!
MAMA: Alright we have a shout-out, don’t we?
LEELA: Oh, yes, we do. Wait! No… Oh, I don’t know…
MAMA: Yes, y’all know that feeling when you love something soooo much and you want everyone to know about it? Whether it’s a new song, a new playground, a TV show you just want to shout from the rooftops how wonderful it is?
MAMA: Yet, you’re conflicted by the opposite feeling too. You also Kinda want to keep it absolutely secret. Because you feel it’s yours and only yours. And you don’t want to share. Ever felt like that?
LEELA: Boy, have I ever! I have a list of things like that!
MAMA: I know… And I share this conflicted feeling with… We’re gonna do it, Leela. It’s too awesome not to share. Especially on a podcast like ours that loves the world of wow
LEELA: That would be science.
MAMA: Mmmhmmm. And a podcast that loves taking complicated things and making them simple. Or, taking things that might seem at first seems very interesting, and making them
LEELA: come alive!
MAMA: Well, if we are really, truly passionate about that, Leela, then we have to shout out when someone else does the same thing. And on a mammoth scale. By the way, So, well!
LEELA: Ok, ok, we’ll tell them! You guys have to watch the TV show “Connected!”
SFX: SHOW SOUND
MAMA: The full name is Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything. It’s a Netflix show and it’s slick and fun. It’s about how so many ordinary and extraordinary, or far-out, aspects of our world are connected in ways that will make your jaw drop.
LEELA: Like how the dust from an African dessert can slow down hurricanes about to hit… America.
MAMA: And how migrating birds called, veeries, can predict these hurricanes before we can!
LEELA: Or the nuclear bombs and art one, Mama.
MAMA: Yeah, well, how the fallout from nuclear bombs or tests has permeated or gotten into every aspect of life from our fields and forests to us… that this bi-product, called Carbon 14, can be used to tell if expensive painting is fake or real. I mean, you got to watch it to see how they connect the dots. Their graphics are stunning and really child-friendly and fun. They really make it all come alive and understandable.
LEELA: Not they he.
MAMA: Ah, well. There’s lots of people that help make this, but, yes, the front man is…
LEELA: Latif Nasser! He’s so funny! He has these big eyes and big, curly hair, and long skinny arms and legs… He’s always making funny faces!
MAMA: He knows how to get our attention, doesn’t he?
LEELA: He sure does.
MAMA: Well, because we’re such fans of the show, we wrote a blog about it on our website and sent him a tweet.
LEELA: We told him about our game.
MAMA: Yep, Leela and I have a game where we imagine who in the world we would invite to our latest and great tea party if we could invite anyone.
LEELA: And he’s now top of the list.
MAMA: YEP, He is. And he said yes! To a zoom tea party. Well, eventually. Right now, he has a new born baby, so we’re giving him some time. But watch this space!
LEELA: Speaking of shouting from the rooftops…
MAMA: How do musicians who play together in a big group, called an orchestra, do so during a pandemic and to a whole neighborhood while keeping social distance from each other?
LEELA: I know this one! They play from the rooftops.
MAMA: Ah ha! Well, you’re the musician in the family over to you.
LEELA: Well, some musicians from the German city of Dresden, thought it was “high time” their residence had a musical treat.
Eight French horn players, drummers and percussionists. were on a shopping center roof which is a parking lot so they had a lot of room to keep six feet apart.
Then all around them, way on top of ten-story-high apartment blocks, were the players of: nine trumpets, four tubas and 16 alp-horns.
And if you don’t know what those are, Google it and have a laugh. Alp-horns are really long wooden horns used by people in the Alp mountains of Europe. They look more like gigantic pipes, which makes the person playing it look like an elf… But the sound is pretty cool.
This “high-flying” orchestra played for one hour. Most residents watched from their balconies… in awe at how they were able… to play all together, in time.
And, how did they? When they couldn’t have seen a conductor, who tells the musicians when to play?
Well, they were all wearing headphones, so they could hear a digital conductor tell them when to stop and start.
MAMA: Now you know why something that’s super complicated but put together with perfect timing is called orchestrated. Like, she orchestrated the perfect surprise party. It clearly comes from this kind of orchestra!
LEELA: And now for a different sound…
MAMA: We have a story about an elephant. Not quite one that runs away from a circus…
LEELA: But a very bad zoo.
MAMA: That’s right. Just next door to us here in India, in Pakistan, lives an elephant named Kaavan, who’s been called “the world’s loneliest elephant!”
LEELA: But, as our reporter Amaira Mirza tells us, like Nellie, there is a happy ending to Kaavan’s story.
AMIRYA: Kaavan, the elephant, has lived at a zoo in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, for more than 35 years. But they have not been happy years. Because the zoo was in very poor shape for a long time…
The floor of his enclosure was so bad, it’s damaged his feet.
His toenails are cracked and overgrown. And even though the big beast is officially overweight, he shows signs of being malnourished. That means he’s not receiving enough nutrients needed for good health. But Kaavan’s real troubles began 8 years ago… when his partner died.
He had no other big beasts or friends in the zoo to keep him company. He would shake his head back-and-forth for hours. Just because he was sad and bored. It’s no wonder he’s been called the “loneliest elephant in the world.” For four years local animal rights activists have been working on getting him a new home.
Finally, Pakistan’s High Court ordered the zoo to shut down. Yayy… And Kaavan will be moved to an animal sanctuary. That means a safe and comfortable place. It will probably be in the nearby country of Cambodia. But they have to wait until he’s strong enough to travel. Guess what a local vet, named Mr. Khalil, is doing to help calm Kaavan and restore his health?
He’s singing to him! Surprisingly, he’s not singing “Nelly the Elephant” … but a song by Frank Sinatra called, “My Way.” Reporting on the loneliest elephant in the world, I’m Amira Mirza for Newsy Pooloozi.
LEELA: Thanks, Amira. I’m so happy that story has a happy ending.
MAMA: And a musical one at that! And now for a little odd ball to end the podcast with, we move from the elephants to flies.
ODDBALL STING – LEELA: Step right up, step right up… Have to go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh?
And odd ball. No doubt!
LEELA: An odd fly, more like…
MAMA: Yes, our final story is a shocking tale of a pesky fly creating trouble in France.
LEELA: But as our Paris correspondent Louise Johansson reports, there IS an important lesson for all of us.
LOUISE: That’s right, Leela. This story might sound like something out of a silly old cartoon.
But the fact that it’s true… serves as a warning. Just a few days ago, a man in his 80s was sitting down for dinner at his home in the southwest of France.
Right as he was about to tuck in to his food, what should appear but a pesky old fly. No one wants to eat with a fly buzzing around. For a start they spit on your food in order to suck it up themselves and that’s just gross. But doing also means they can spread some diseases, around 65 in fact. From things that give you a funny tummy, like Salmonella and e-coli, to typhoid fever and cholera! So, it’s no wonder this man from the Dordogne region became irritated by a fly buzzing around him as he was trying to eat. So, he did what any sensible person would do.
He picked up his electric fly swatter to zap the pesky pest. Only……. he didn’t know his kitchen gas canister had a leak! And unfortunately, when stray gas meets a spark… it can cause an explosion.
Which is what happened, destroying the man’s kitchen and partly damaging his roof!
Amazingly, though, the man had a lucky escape. Only his had got burned. According to the media, the condition of the fly is not known. So, the moral of the story is… no matter how annoying and dirty flies might be… don’t use an electric zapper anywhere near a gas canister. Because you never know if there’s a leak that might cause an explosion. In France this is Louise Johansson reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.
LEELA: Thanks, Louise. Hey, Mama.
MAMA: Hey, Leela.
LEELA: What do you call a fly that’s ill?
MAMA: Oh, no…
LEELA: The flew. As in a fly that flew away.
MAMA: (laughs) Oh yeah……
STING: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top… five fab facts heard today. Here goes”
FAB FACT NUMBER 1:
LEELA: A long period without any rain is called a drought.
FAB FACT NUMBER 2:
MAMA: Nearly 90 percent of all wildfires in the US are started by humans.
FAB FACT NUMBER 3
LEELA: The fire triangle consists of the three things that create wildfires: a heat source (like a spark), fuel (like dry leaves) and oxygen.
FAB FACT NUMBER 4
MAMA: Alp-horns are wooden horns several meters long, used by people in the Alp mountains of Europe.
FAB FACT NUMBER 5
LEELA: Flies spit on food to dissolve it and suck it up. Doing so means they can spread around 65 different diseases.
LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!! If you enjoyed this dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information… then do PLEASE, please, pretty please subscribe to our podcast on… Apple Podcast or wherever you get to your podcasts.
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So, over and out. See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!