Tuesday, 26 May, 2020

Countdown to historic space launch ; South Africa’s pygmy seahorse; Dog sled champ stranded; and Japan’s gaming granny.



Hazelwood chimney collapse:







Two American astronauts will make history on Thursday morning Australian time when they clamber into a rocket made by businessman Elon Musk and are propelled through space to the International Space Station.

The rocket launch will be the first time in nine years that astronauts have gone into space from American soil.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will take 24 hours to travel from the launch pad in Florida to the International Space Station, which is in orbit above the Earth. If successful, businessman Elon Musk’s company SpaceX will be the first private company to launch humans into space. Why is that a thing? Because it opens the possibility of opening up commercial space travel in the future – which is to say, one day in the future hopping on a rocket ship to go into space might just become as commonplace as hopping on a plane to visit another country is today.


Back here on the ground and it’s been a busy 24 hours for our Earth too … Western Australia has been slammed by a super storm – with winds in Perth and surrounding areas reaching up to 140 km/h. Emergency services were kept busy most of yesterday responding to calls for assistance. Which is also what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern almost needed yesterday when a TV interview was interrupted by an earthquake shaking the building she was in; while across in Victoria, thousands lined the roads near the Hazelwood power station to catch a glimpse of eight massive chimneys from the former coal-fired power station as they came crashing to Earth in a controlled explosion, as part of the closure of the facility. There’s a link in today’s episode notes to the impressive sight.  




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story wherever it stops … and today, we’ve landed in South Africa. Or in the sea just off the coast of South Africa, to be precise … where researchers have found a new species of pygmy seahorse – and they couldn’t be more excited. A pygmy seahorse is about the size of a grain of rice – so finding one anywhere at all is a massive achievement. But this discovery is all the more surprising to scientists because until now – each one of the seven other species of pygmy seahorse that is known to science lives in and around Australia and the Pacific … so a long, long way from South Africa.

Said one researcher: “It’s like finding a kangaroo in Norway!”. Which you have to admit would be pretty weird. 




Remember a couple of months back we brought you the story of the Iditarod Dog Sled race in Alaska – a state in the USA that stretches up towards the north pole? Teams of huskies pulled racers from different countries across thousands of kilometres of frozen landscape for up to fifteen days? And this year’s winner was Norway’s Thomas Waerner. Well, the race finished two months ago, and because of coronavirus travel restrictions, Thomas has been stuck in Alaska with his sixteen dogs – unable to get home to Norway – and his wife, five kids and 35 other dogs.

He and his dogs are hitching a ride on a private charter flight in early June. And when he gets home, he says he plans on doing whatever his wife tells him to for the rest of the year. Smart man.




On YouTube, she has over 250,000 followers. In her home country of Japan, she’s known as the Gaming Granny. And now, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, 90 year-old Hamako Mori is officially the world’s oldest YouTube gamer. Hamako – who says Grand Theft Auto is her favourite game – says she started gaming 39 years ago, at the sprightly age of 51- and says she sometimes gets so hooked on a game that she’ll sit up until 2am playing it. See? Once the gaming bug bites – it’s hard to resist. 




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

  1. In which US state is the launch pad of the SpaceX flight to the International Space Station?  
  2. Off the coast of which country have researchers found a new species of pygmy seahorse?
  3. Name the favourite video game of the Gaming Granny, Hamako Mori?




Today’s birthday shoutouts… Georgina from Crookwell, Dylan from Mosman Park, Kirby from Kangaloon, Kaden from Cannon Hill, Henry and Maddie from Sydney, Cody from Forster, Monique from Hovea, Ruby from Abbotsford, Jeanie from Brunswick West, James from Saratoga, Noah from Mount Gravatt East, Sophie from the Sunshine Coast, Dillan from Brisbane, Alex from Abbotsford, Harry from Forest Lodge, Elise from Kapooka, Edwin from Canberra, Matt from Dee Why, and Oscar from Auckland in New Zealand. 

And some belated birthday shoutouts…Rob from Sydney, Liam from Inverell and Kaleb from Calista.

Happy birthday to you all.  

Today’s classroom shoutouts… the senior kids at St. Brigid’s in Healesville, 

St Raphael’s in South Hurstville, Year 4I at Newbridge Heights Public School, with Mrs Spillane whose birthday it is today, and Miss Perkins, Katherine and Zac, who all share a birthday from Class 4MP at Lane Cove Public School, as well as classes 3/4KD and 2NG. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Florida
  2. South Africa
  3. Grand Theft Auto