Tuesday, 7 March, 2023

Help for the high seas; Vanuatu’s triple whammy; restoring Notre Dame’s acoustics; and an 8 year old’s pooch-payday.


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Today’s Quick Links: 

Tommy Lee and Echo: https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-03-06/eight-year-old-tommy-lee-trains-working-dogs/102048350 

Notre Dame interactive acoustics: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/03/03/magazine/notre-dame-cathedral-acoustics-sound.html 

The final recording from Notre Dame before the fire: https://www.cbc.ca/music/is-this-the-last-music-recorded-at-notre-dame-de-paris-1.5099860 

Janet Guthrie’s 1978 trackside interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgl3Dcos7nA


Dig Deeper:

The decline of marine biodiversity: https://ocean-climate.org/en/awareness/the-decline-of-marine-biodiversity/?lang=en

A Global Goal for Nature: https://www.naturepositive.org/

Living Planet Report 2022: https://wwflpr.awsassets.panda.org/downloads/lpr_2022_full_report.pdf

Watch the world’s most expensive working dog in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt_BS63gOAE

More on Janet Guthrie: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1204402-janet-guthrie-legend-talks-racing-then-and-now-and-danica-patrick 

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After negotiations that have lasted longer than some of you have been alive, a majority of the world’s nations have come to a historic agreement on protecting our oceans. 


For more than 15 years, the United Nations has led talks on protecting what’s called the “high seas”, which sounds like something from a pirate movie, but actually is the official term for waters that aren’t within 370 km of any country’s coast, and so don’t belong to anyone.  That’s about two thirds of the world’s waters, and almost half our entire planet! 


The main focus of the High Seas Treaty is to protect marine biodiversity – meaning the huge variety of plants and animals that live in our oceans. Nearly 10% of marine species – particularly sharks, whales, and reef corals – are currently at risk of extinction because of overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

Under the new agreement, 30 percent of the high seas would be protected by 2030, mostly by setting up conservation zones. It’s been called a “monumental win for ocean protection” – although so far, what’s been agreed on is the wording of the treaty. It still needs to be voted on at the next meeting of the UN. Then, the real work begins.   



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops, and today we’ve landed in Vanuatu, where three nightmarish days of natural disasters have caused widespread damage. The Pacific island nation, which has a population of about 300,000, is ranked by the United Nations as the country most prone to natural disasters. But the triple whammy of Cyclone Judy last Thursday, followed by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake on Friday, then Cyclone Kevin on Friday and Saturday? Well, locals say that is unprecedented. Unprecedented means it’s never happened before.

Heavy rains, gale-force winds, and the shaking ground have damaged buildings, communications, and power lines, and the government has declared a state of emergency. Yesterday, more than 600 Australian Defence Force personnel boarded HMAS Canberra and headed out to help the relief efforts. Because—that’s what friends do. 



What do you think mediaeval singers, a sewer-inspection robot, and a piece of carpet have in common? They’re all being used by scientists to restore the acoustics of Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral. 


The acoustics of a place determine how we hear things in it. A piece of music sounds very different if it’s played in your classroom, or a huge cathedral. And Notre Dame, which first opened in 1363, has always been famous for its stunning acoustics. You’d better believe there are links in your episode notes. 


You might remember that in 2019, a huge fire engulfed the iconic French cathedral. Before it was even safe to go back inside, audio experts sent in a microphone attached to a sewer inspection robot, and confirmed that 20% of the acoustics had been lost. As renovations started, they needed to make sure that the sound would be properly restored too … so they used recordings to build computer models of how the cathedral sounded in 1987, and again in 2015, when a carpet strip, installed to soften the noise of footsteps, affected the acoustics. 


And those mediaeval singers? The experts recorded them in an echo-proof room, and are using the recording to test the renovation plans. There’s a link in your episode notes to an interactive piece in the New York Times, so you can plug in headphones and experience what it’s like to stand in different parts of the cathedral and listen to those singers. You can thank me later. 




Over this past weekend, the Jerilderie Working Dog Auction was held. For those of you not familiar with farm life, a working dog is one that rounds up sheep or other animals. And an auction is where farmers go to buy working dogs that have been raised and trained by other people. And now, one such farmer has paid $5,500 to an 8-year-old kid, for the first dog he ever trained!! Tommy Lee’s parents both raise working dogs, and the young Victorian said he thought he’d give it a crack with a pup named Echo. Obviously, he did a fabulous job. And if you’re a big softie like me, the good news is that Echo’s new owner only lives 90 minutes away – so Tommy will still be able to see him. As for what to do with five-and-a-half-thousand dollars, Tommy wants to fix up the family’s bright green one tonne ute. Tommy, Squiz Kids Salutes you. 



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

  1. What is the name for the open waters that are far from any country’s coastline? 
  2. Vanuatu has been slammed by two types of natural disaster. What were they? 
  3. Which French Cathedral is having its acoustics restored? 





It’s March 7 – and because tomorrow is International Women’s Day, I thought I’d highlight the birthday today of a pioneering, and outstanding, professional race car driver. Janet Guthrie turns 85 today, but back when she was 17, she got her pilot’s license. Soon after, she was one of the first four women to qualify for NASA’s astronaut program, and then, when she was 25, she started racing cars. She was the first woman to compete in an Indy 500, and the first woman in a NASCAR event. I’ll put a link in your episode notes to a post-race interview from 1978. The journalist tells her that some people said a woman could never drive 500 miles… she answers that she was driving with one hand. Janet Guthrie, a VERY happy birthday to you. 


It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today… 

Brooke from Yass, Hannah from Tarrington, Indiana-Rose from Tamworth, Ryan from Wakerley, Esme from Richmond, Grace from Kingsgrove, Luke from Princes Hill, Arty from Rose Park and twins Meg and Niamh from Geelong West.


And belated shout outs go to… Isla from Canberra, Jamie from Sydney and Kacey from Bangkok, Thailand. 


Today’s Classroom Shoutouts go to …class 6Y and Mrs Mrs LeRay at Lakes Grammar School in Warnervale, class 6 green and Miss Ross at St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School in Lake Munmorah, class 2-5C with Ms Cavanagh and Mrs Kennedy at Regentville Public School, class 3/4C and Miss Crittenden at Elermore Vale Public School and lastly to the students in harmony room with Miss Gianna at the KU John Carroll Preschool in Surry Hills. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. The High Seas
  2. One earthquake, two cyclones
  3. Notre Dame, in Paris