Secrets of Pompeii and Skincare for Dolphins!

It’s time for the Fun Kids Science Weekly, the weekly podcast that opens your minds to the most amazing things in the universe!

Scientists Gertrud and Angela join us this week to discuss their study on how Dolphins are using their own skincare in coral reefs and we answer your questions on why drinking glasses make music and what actually happens in a black hole!

A dangerous stink is the subject of Dangerous Dan and we catch up with Professor Hallux and Nurse Nanobot, and the smartest school in the universe, Deep Space High!

In Science in the News we stay up to the date with all the latest science stories including what secrets have been unearthed in Pompeii and what plastic is doing to some nasty bacteria!

MOBILE: Fun Kids Science Weekly

The science podcast for kids with Dan exploring the weirdest and coolest stuff in science!

Here’s the episode below:

Dan: Ahoy, there. Welcome along to a brand new episode of the Fun Kids Science Weekly this is the smartest show in the universe and my name is Dan. Thank you for joining me on this journey of discovery. As we fly around the galaxy, searching out some of the science secrets that are lurking within. This week, you can hear how Dolphins keep themselves looking so young, smooth, supple and carefree with experts Gertrude Morlock and Angela Ziltner.

Gertrude: And Angela discovered in the ocean something very special.

Angela: I was observing Dolphins which were rubbing on a gorgonian coral and it was very unique because these Dolphins were actually waiting on a line to slide over.

Dan: Also, we’ll take a trip to the smartest school in the solar system, head to Deep Space High to take a lesson from Professor Pulsar all about magnetic fields.

Sam: It’s just one of those weird invisible things like gravity, isn’t it?

Professor Pulsar: Come with me. Welcome to Norway and the Aurora Borealis, the Northern lights.

Dan: And I’ve got your questions to answer, as always. This week they are on glasses making noises and black holes. Very strong, that one. There’s all that and loads more in a brand new Fun Kids Science Weekly.

Science in the News: Secrets of Pompeii, Bad bacteria on plastic waste, and Earth warming by 1.5 degrees?

Dan: Let’s start things off with this week’s Science in the News. Experts have found that some of the secrets of the people of Pompeii. Have you heard about Pompeii, the volcano that erupted in 79 AD almost 2000 years ago? It caused this huge eruption and it completely covered a city in ash. It disappeared forever, pretty much. But they found some bones and they were thought to be buried in this ash and that the people who had the bones didn’t run away. Scientists have figured out they might be sick before, which meant they couldn’t leave.

Also, experts have found that bad bacteria lasts longer on plastic waste. So things like E. Coli, which can give you stomach bugs and much worse, have been found washed up on beaches. And they’re still infectious and harmful to humans when they’re on plastic.

And also it’s likely that we will exceed the temperatures aimed at for the world to try and save us. There’s just over a 50/50 chance that the world will warm by 1.5 degrees in the next five years. This is climate change in action, which is causing nasty global warming.

time is up sigange

Professor Hallux’s Map of Medicine – Episode 18: Hearts and Hospital Consultants

Dan: Let’s catch up with Professor Hallux then. This is from his Map of Medicine series that we’ve been looking at, listening to and loving for the last few months. He and Nurse Nanobot, his mate and sidekick, have been taking us through your body, why you feel ill sometimes, what’s going wrong and who gets you better and what medicine they use. This week they’re looking at hospital consultants, who they are, what they do, and also all about a special heart condition.

Nurse: Where’s this puddle coming from? Uh-oh…looks like we’ve sprung a leak Professor!

Professor: Well, that’s unexpected. I fixed that pipe just this morning. I’m an expert at DIY, normally.

Nurse: You fixed it?! What did you fix it with? Not those old sticky plasters.

Professor: As if I’d used sticky plasters to fix. Well, yes, it was, as it happens.

Nurse: Oh no, we’re up to our knees in water. You’re not an expert in DIY, Professor. Experts do things properly. You should stick to what you’re good at. Like answering medical questions. Let’s open the video phone.

Professor: Fair point, nurse.

Patient: Hi. My little sister’s going into hospital so the surgeons can fix something called atrial septal defects, whatever that is. She’s under the care of a consultant. Is that something to do with sultanas? What’s it like to stay in hospital? It all sounds pretty grown up and a bit scary.

Professor: Well, staying in hospital certainly isn’t as scary as Halloween or zombies, but being poorly and having an operation can seem scary. Let’s see if we can help with your questions. Can you give us the clinical crunch, nurse, whilst I load up my map of medicine? I have some caulking good stuff about consultants in there.

Nurse: Of course, atrial septal defects, or ASD, and which is also known as a hole in the heart, are fairly common. One child in every 1,500 born will have the condition. Here’s what happens. Your heart has four chambers, like four rooms with special doors called valves that separate each of the rooms. Now, these valves are very clever. They only open one way.

Professor: A bit like when you’re in a public toilet cubicle. I hate it when the lock is broken and it swings in and I have to use my foot to hold it shut.

Nurse: Will you put a sock in it about the toilets?! Right, where were we? The valves make sure that blood travels to your organs in the right direction, at the right speed and pressure from the heart to the body, back to the heart and then to the lungs. An ASD is when there’s a hole in the wall between two of the rooms. This causes blood to leak in the wrong direction, which can make you seriously ill and cause you to get extremely tired, even if you haven’t been running about.

Professor: Now, some ASDs are so small that they don’t need to be treated at all. Others need some medicine to reduce the strain on the heart. But if the hole is causing a problem, then surgery is often performed. Open heart surgery is the most common type. And this is where the surgeon makes a cut in the chest to access the heart and closes the septal defect, sealing it with a synthetic patch.

man in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglasses

Nurse: And I promise you that the patch a surgeon uses is nothing like the Professor’s terrible DIY with those manky old plasters. Some patches are made from Goretex, which has the same hight ech material that spacesuits are made of.

Professor: Right, let’s get the low down on hospitals and consultants. It’s all in the map of medicine, a mine of information about medical people and places.

So your little sister has to go into hospital for an operation. Hospitals are great at helping children settle in. She’ll be given a special bed, usually in a ward with other kids, so she won’t be lonely. A ward is a big room where patients wait for their operations and then recover afterwards. Now, our caller was interested in knowing about the consultants. A consultant is a senior doctor who has completed all their specialist training and has been placed on the special register in their chosen speciality. Some are expert in stomachs. Some are immensely good at hearts, some superb eye complaints. Some are outstanding at playing ping pong in their spare time, not their job. Basically, they are about as clever as doctors can get in their chosen field. They’re like the grand high wizards and wizardesses of the medical world. Okay, maybe not quite like grand high wizards, but they’re experts. When people say that a patient is under the care of a consultant, it means this super clever doctor is in charge of what treatment they get. To be a consultant takes many years of studying and practising medicine in University and in hospitals. And you thought it was bad just going to school for a few measly hours?

Nurse: Have we got time for a disgusting detail, Prof?

Professor: Of course!

Nurse: If you have a stay in a hospital, you may be sharing a Ward with other people. But count yourself lucky that you don’t have to share a bed. 200 years ago, as many as five people would have to squeeze onto one dirty old mattress. And in a French hospital called Hotel Jer, they’d even stack them on top of the four poster beds, too. Room on top! And as well as sharing a pillow, you’d be sharing all sorts of diseases like cholera, typhus and even fleas.

Professor: Ew! I’m all itchy now. Time for us to go. But before you join us again, why not explore the Map of Medicine for yourself?

Answering Your Questions: Why do some drinking glasses make a noise when you move your finger around the rim of them? And What’s a black hole and what happens when you go in it?

Dan: Let’s get to your questions then. If there’s something sciencey rallying around your brain that you really need answered, let’s leave it to me ,really easy. Let me do the digging for you. Just send it as a review for this podcast over on Apple. I will see it and I’ll do all the work. I’ll save you the trouble and the hassle.

The first one this week comes in from Beth, who is in Geneva, who wants to know why do some drinking glasses make a noise when you move your finger around the rim of them? Have you seen this? Give it a go right now. If you can, you can pause the podcast. You get your glass out and you fill it with water, then dip it, the tip of your finger in, make it a little bit wet. And then if you run your finger around the top of it, it will harm, it will whistle, it will sing and make a noise.

It does this, Beth, because sound is made by air vibrating. Now, when you run your finger around the rim of a glass, you are vibrating that glass, and that moves the air, that moving air then makes a sound. Now, what’s amazing is when you change the amount of liquid that is in the glass, you’re also altering the amount of air that’s there. And that changes how much of it vibrates and changes the pitch of the sound, whether it’s a higher or lower note. So if you get different glasses with different amounts of water in there, you can play tunes, you can play full songs. Thank you, Beth.

person holding clear glass cup with half-filled water

This one is from Mateus, who is in Bermuda. Who wants to know what’s a black hole and what happens when you go in it? Well, no one really knows properly, officially, Mateus, because they’re quite far away and we can’t get close enough to them without being sucked in them to test it out, to find out what’s going on.

But here’s what scientists think happen. When a star dies, sometimes it will collapse in on itself. It’ll almost swallow itself. And because stars are huge, that’s a lot of gravity that’s almost disappearing. And it becomes a black hole. The gravity becomes so strong, everything is sucked into it and becomes nothing. Not even light can escape a black hole. And if an atom goes into it, one single atom, anything, it will be shrunk down to something so small that it becomes a speck, a thin wormy line called a singularity.

Now, that’s what a black hole is, Mateus. But what they do, where you go to, whether you can travel through dimensions and through the multiverse, we don’t quite know yet. But thank you for the question. And if there’s something you would like answered on this show next week, find the Fun Kids Science Weekly on Apple podcast and leave it as a review.

Interview with Gerda (Gertrude) Morlock and Angela Zilton

Dan: It’s the Fun Kids Science Weekly. Now, when Dolphins have a rash or maybe get a grubby skin infection, experts think that they’re using different parts of the ocean to help them get better. We’ll find out more. A study has been published by Gerda (Gertrude) Morlock and Angela Zilton, who can tell us more. Ladies, thank you so much for being there.

Both: You’re welcome. Hello, everyone.

Dan: Well, listen, where did you get the first idea for this study, Gerda, that maybe something might be happening with Dolphins and coral?

Gerda: Yeah, so we are looking for miracle compounds, active compounds since a decade. And Angela discovered in the ocean something very special.

Angela: I was observing Dolphins which were robbing on a gorgonian coral. And it was very unique because these Dolphins were actually waiting on a line to slide over the gorgonian coral, which is a soft coral. And they repeated it again and again. And we were wondering, wow, what’s happening here? Why do they do this? Is there a link between the coral and the Dolphins? And we also saw that Dolphins also were robbing on sponges and also another coral, a species called leather coral. So we wanted to see what is going on. Why do they it’s just fun or is it, what is it? So we needed to find out this big secret.

Dan: Gerda, what’s more surprising is it that Dolphins are doing this, that they are rubbing on the coral to get better or that the coral has some healing property?


Gerda: Both is perfect and it’s made, of course, by nature, so it is perfect. So the corals and the sponges, they produce a lot of active compounds because they cannot run away in the ocean. So they must defend themselves by producing chemicals. And also the Dolphins are very intelligent. So they use these compounds for skin care. They have no hands, they have no arms. How could they cream their skin otherwise? Right, so they need something like a coral or a sponge where they can go and get their cosmetics or their treatment.

Dan: Angela, how do other Dolphins know about this? Is this something that the Dolphins are talking amongst themselves saying, well, look, if you’ve got a little itch go down to that bit of coral or is it just something that Dolphins instantly know?

Angela: It’s actually what we were observing is that the babies are not doing this behaviour. So the babies are watching the adults, how they rub on the gorgonian coral and the sponge. They are just observing for quite a long time. The first baby we observed was over one year and it looks really funny.

For example, when they go or slide over a gorgonian coral because they look that the fluke, the tail is not touching the branches of the gorgonian coral and also the flippers, the pector fins on the side, they also are out. So it’s kind of a strange feeling for them, so they need to learn it. We say this, it’s social learning and it also can be that the adults, because they are used to do it, it might be very good for their skin. They also give this knowledge father to the next generation, to the next babies, to the calfs. So what we have seen, it’s a learned behaviour and it’s also very interesting because the Dolphins are really picky in choosing the coral.

So they really go for this certain kind of species of gorgonian coral, for example. And they also are very aware which body part is it, the head or the flippers or the tail or the belly or the back to put into this other marine organism. So we really think that this is a social, learned behaviour and the knowledge can be transmitted to the next Dolphins, the next generations.

2 dolphins in the water

Dan: Gerda, we’ve just discovered this. How long do we think maybe this shared knowledge has passed through Dolphins? Is this something that might be thousands of years old? This trick.

Gerda: Most likely we don’t know, because those Dolphins do not talk to us. So first, the analytical chemistry part. This chemical investigation found it out that there could be, at least we think so, that there is a connection.

Dan: How might this change what we think about cosmetics and about skin cream? Do you think knowing that this coral is in the ocean and it makes it all by itself, do you think this might change how we medicate ourselves?

Gerda: So the bioactive compounds are located in the corals and sponges. They are rich in these compounds. And we both would say, let it be for the Dolphins, for their beauty, for their medical or however treatment. So let these compounds chemicals be active for the Dolphins.

Dan: Amazing. It’s been such a real, real treat to chat to you. I really enjoyed it. Angela Zilton, Gerda Morlock, thank you so much for being there.

Dangerous Dan: Thioacetone

Dan: It’s time for this week’s Dangerous Dan, where we look at the most mean things in the universe. This week, we’re looking at the world’s most stinking chemical. It’s called thioacetone. Now, its chemical symbol is Ch32CS. And it’s incredibly hard to make it’s only in a liquid form when it’s very cold. When you’re at -20 degrees, then it will be liquid. Anything over that, it hardens into a solid.

Doesn’t matter what state of matter this chemical is though, it absolutely reeks in any form. Experts have compared it to the smell of some evil spirit. That’s what they say. It’s something like sulphur. You might smell that sometimes, that horrid rotten egg smell that you sometimes get coming up through the pipes. Only this one, Thioacetone, is so much worse.

So bad, check this out, chemical factory once tried to make the chemical in the 1800s. Some got out and it was smelled half a kilometre away. It made people faint and be sick. The whole town had to be evacuated because people were running away, because the smell was so putrid.

If that wasn’t worse, they tried it again. In 1967, a factory near Oxford in the UK tried it. Only a bottle got uncorked and again, people were sick and they started fainting because this chemical, this pungent, putrid thioacetone, is so stinking and because it’s so bad. Come on, it needs to go straight onto our Dangerous Dan list.

Deep Space High: Earth Watch – Magnetic Fields

Dan: It’s time now to check in to the smartest school in the solar system. We’re headed to Deep Space High every week at the moment with episodes from our Earth Watch series that you can catch up on the free Fun kids app. This week, Professor Pulsar and Sam, they’re finding out all about the Earth’s magnetic field and how it’s different to other planets.

Professor Pulsar: Got your scalextric out again. I bet you don’t know how those cars stick to the track.

Sam: Of course I do. It’s magnets. Loads of toys have magnets, don’t they?

Professor Pulsar: Certainly do, but magnets are a serious business. Did you know there’s a massive magnetic field around the Earth.

Sam: Um, yeah…the top of the field is near the North Pole isn’t it?

Professor Pulsar: Which is why all magnets point north. It’s cooler than that, though. A planet’s magnetic field forms a shield protecting its surface from tiny, energetic charged particles coming from the sun and other places.

Sam: Cool, sounds like something a superhero would have. Never fear Earthlings, I have my magnetic shield!

Professor Pulsar: Exactly. The sun is constantly sending particles out they call solar wind. But when they hit the magnetic field, they’re deflected. You can see the effect for yourself.

Sam: How can you see solar winds? It’s just one of those weird invisible things like gravity isn’t it?

Professor Pulsar: Come with me. Welcome to Norway and the Aurora Borealis, the Northern lights. These shimmering light displays are made by particles from the solar wind Hitting the molecules High up in Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes they look like waves, Other times like spikes, and they come in all sorts of colours.

silhouette of trees near Aurora Borealis at night

Sam: Wow. Beautiful Greens and Blues, but if a planet doesn’t have a magnetic field, what happens?

Professor Pulsar: Well, they’ll have to find some other way to take things to the fridges. The biggest benefit of magnetism is life on a planet. Solar wind damages living things you see. Can you remember what causes a magnetic field in the first place?

Sam: Yes! It’s the core of the planet, isn’t it?

Professor Pulsar: Deep inside the Earth’s core, hot iron floors generate an electrical current, and this, in turn, generates magnetism.

Sam: So if the planet has a magnetic field, we know it has a moving iron core.

Professor Pulsar: Exactly. Or we can say that it’s certainly very likely. It’s tricky, though, Because it has to be hot enough, big enough, and flowing enough to create a magnetic field. The flow is faster. If a planet is spinning more quickly, Slow planets don’t build up enough speed for their own shield.

Venus doesn’t have a magnetic field. Even though we know it’s got a warm core, it’s just too slow. One day on Venus is over 200 days on Earth.

Mars is another planet that has a very weak magnetic field. It’s spinning fast enough, but its core is thought to be solid. Nothing flowing there, so…

Sam: There’s no magnetic field! So none of the planets have magnetic fields like us.

Professor Pulsar: Hey, I didn’t say that Jupiter has a huge magnetic field, not least because of its size. And it spins super fast. One day is just 10 hours.

Sam: Hey, I’ve got a great joke about Jupiter. Knock Knock.

Professor Pulsar: Who’s there?

Sam: Jupiter.

Professor Pulsar: Jupiter who?

Sam: Jupiter hurry up or you’ll miss the bus!

Professor Pulsar: I think that’s your worst one yet.

Add a comment