Friday, 24 February, 2023

Six massive objects discovered in space; Bronze Age brain surgery; our winning World Cup women; and cycling at school


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Today’s Quick Links: 

Six red blobs that have upended science! Compare the certainty of CNN’s journalists with the caution of the ABC’s:

Original scientific paper on the red massive galaxies: 

Bronze Age brain surgeon: 

Mexico’s bike desks: 

Cricket Australia’s wrap-up of the semi final: 

Key moments from the Matilda’s Cup of Nations run: 

Tendulkar’s 200, condensed to two minutes: 


Dig Deeper: 

Scientific paper on the Bronze Age brain surgery: : 

The history of surgery:

The history of women’s football in Australia:

Forgotten history of Australian women’s football discovered:

How the Matildas got their name:

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The James Webb Space Telescope has looked back millions of years in time to discover six massive objects that have completely upended our understanding of how the universe works. Whoa. 


Let me break it down.  


The Webb telescope, which was launched in 2021, makes its pictures by capturing infrared light in space. Now remember, light takes time to get places. It travels really, REALLY quickly – almost 300,000 kilometres per second – but that means that when we look up at the moon, we’re actually seeing it as it was 1.3 seconds ago. When we look at Jupiter, we’re really seeing what happened there 40 minutes ago. And when we look at the closest galaxy to our own, the Andromeda galaxy, it’s taken 2.5 million years for that light to reach us… so we’re really seeing what happened there 2.5 million years ago. 


An international team, led by an Australian astronomer, published its analysis yesterday of Webb telescope images from between 500 and 700 million years ago. They were so surprised to find six red blobs, which most likely represent MASSIVE galaxies packed with ultra bright stars, that they ran their calculations again, assuming they’d made a mistake. But there they were, objects up to 100 times greater than anyone expected to see.  


You see, up until now, experts had thought that galaxies formed slowly, as clouds of stars and dust built up over time. The fact that these galaxies are so huge, so close to the beginning of the universe, means that theory is busted. In fact, the scientists who found the massive objects are calling them “universe breakers.” 


I’ll put some links in your episode notes, including the original paper, published yesterday in the journal Nature, and two different news organisations’ reports. It’s very interesting to compare the language used in all three! 




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops .. and today we’ve landed in Israel, where researchers have found evidence suggesting that a professional brain surgeon was operating three-and-a-half thousand years ago. 

While examining the skeletons of two wealthy brothers buried in the late Bronze Age, one scientist noticed that a precise rectangle had been cut out of one skull. At first, she assumed one of her colleagues had taken the sample to test for DNA—but then realised she was looking at an operation performed while the young man was alive, most likely to try to relieve pressure on his brain. OUCH! 

The procedure involved carving a hashtag shape into the top of the young man’s head, and then chiselling out the rectangle in the middle. Again, OUCH. The cuts were so precise that experts believe they were probably done by a professional. A brain surgeon living in 1500 BCE… imagine that.   




Australia’s women just keep on winning. In soccer, the Matildas have had a clean sweep of the Cup of Nations tournament, winning all three of their games and beating Jamaica in the final to claim the trophy. The friendly comp was seen as a dress rehearsal for the Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand later this year… 

And over in South Africa, the Australian T20 cricket team is heading to the grand final after beating India in an exciting semi overnight. Even though Meg Lanning’s team went into the match strong favourites, they weren’t taking anything for granted. After all, the only two losses the Aussie women have had in ANY format of the game over the past two years have been at the hands of India. 


Tonight Australian time, England will play South Africa in the other semi. The final will be held at 3pm on Sunday… but unfortunately that’s local time. Kids in WA might have some luck convincing their parents to start watching at 9pm, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be a no-go for a midnight viewing on the east coast of Australia. 



Oh, and there goes the classroom companion clarion! That means today’s activities are tied to this story. Kids will get to compare and contrast Australia’s very first “ladies” soccer team, from 1921, with the Matildas. And every Friday is games day with Squiz Kids Classroom… you’ll have so much fun, you’ll hardly know you’re reinforcing this week’s learning. Action Verb charades, anyone?
As a reminder, Squiz Kids Classroom is created by teachers, curriculum aligned, and completely free. Sign up on our website now! 




I’m not sure about you, but when I was at school, I found it really hard to stay sitting still at my desk for hours on end. But a high school in Mexico may have found the answer… bike desks!

Classrooms at Public High School 24, in a town called San Nicolas de los Garza, feature bright blue desks with bicycle pedals underneath. As students work quietly on their laptops, they have the option for their feet to be constantly cycling. Many say the movement helps them stay focused—although that wasn’t the main reason for introducing the bike desks. 


Mexico has one of the world’s highest rates of childhood obesity… Obesity meaning overweight to the point that it’s a health risk. So burning calories while you’re sitting at a desk could be a real win in the fight against obesity. Forget biking TO school… bike AT school, too! 



This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What is the name of the telescope that’s discovered six massive new objects in space? 
  2. A school in which country has introduced bike desks to fight obesity?   
  3. Why did a Bronze Age brain surgeon most likely chop a rectangle out of a young man’s skull? 





It’s February 24 – and on this day in 2010, the Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar scored the first ever double century in a One Day International match. I know, I have cricket on the brain. 


It’s also a Friday – and you know what that means .. lots of birthday shout outs for today and the coming weekend … for which we’re going to need to crack out the ol’ birthday reggae tune … hit it … 


It’s a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today… Parker from Oak Park, Lachlan from Burpengary, Arthur from Ivanhoe, Zoe from Sandhurst, Sienna from Brisbane, Denny from Matraville, Matilda from Aberfoyle Park, Max, Jake, Bobby, Andrew and Tom all from Narrandera, Indie from Warner, Ruby from Glenhaven, Lima from Cherrybrook, Sophie from Adelaide, Hunter from Cambridge Gardens, Olivia from North Rocks, Matthew from Unanderra, Tahlia from Coromandel Valley and Malachi listening over in Brunei and a belated shout out to Ebony his sister!

Belated shoutouts also go to… Estelle from Perth, Ellie and Izaiah from Elermore Vale and Ben from Victoria.

Not forgetting all the Squiz Kids who are celebrating a birthday over the coming weekend…Riley from Yass, Lily from Montmorency, Coenna from St Peters, Cameron from Marrickville, Killian from Lane Cove North, Kele from Point Cook, Ewan from Geelong West, Caylan from Gladesville, Max from Southport, Leen from Quakers Hill, Charlie from Gundagai, Rion from Helensvale, Felix from St Leonards, Evie from Rose Bay, Anna from Moonee Ponds, Charmaine from Epping and Izzy from Bowral. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. James Webb Space Telescope
  2. Mexico
  3. To release pressure on his brain… which, by the way, is officially called trephination.