Zombie Creepy Crawlies and What Life Will Be Like In 2052!

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

A very special guest who’s job is to look into the future as a futurist, Ian Pearson joins the podcast to talk about what we can expect in 2052!

Hopefully there isn’t any Zombie Insects in 2052, which we learn all about in this weeks Dangerous Dan!

We also catch up with Professor Hallux and Nurse Nanobot in their Map of Medicine, explore under the sea in Age of the Dinosaurs!

Plus, we answer more of your questions including what babies learn about our relationships through our saliva!

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: Hello. Welcome along, it’s the universe’s favourite podcast. This is The Fun Kids Science Weekly. My name is Dan. Thank you for being there. It’s the part of the week where we scour the universe, we search through the solar system finding all the best science secrets lurking around. Now, this week we’ll head back to the Age of the Dinosaurs. We’ll take a look at how all the creatures lived. Some were in their herds with mates and others roamed the Cretaceous Period alone.

Child: Uh, oh. Let’s hide! We’ve got company

Narrator: Don’t panic, it’s a herd of Iguanodons.

Dan: Also, there is a brand new movie out on Netflix. It’s all about time travel. It’s called The Adam Project. It’s about a dude from the future who heads back to the present to meet his past self. Get your head around that. Now, inspired by that, we’ll chat to a futurologist, someone who knows what might the world be like in 50 years time!

Ian: I think in 2052, it’s very likely we will have pod systems where you’ve got very simple pods being driven on smart infrastructure. So they’re very cheap, probably a couple of $1,000 a pod, and they’ll just float along on magnetic linear induction mats or something like that. They might not even have wheels because you can levitate them.

Dan: And I’ve got your questions, as always. This week they’re on water and birds, so lots on the way. Stick around. It’s a brand new Fun Kids Science Weekly.

Science In the News: Heatwave changes in the UK, Judging Friendships by Saliva, And NASA find 60 More Planets!

Dan: Right, let’s kick off the show with this week’s Science in The News. Scientists have changed the rules for what makes a heat wave in the UK. The country has had the bottom temperature for what makes it hot enough raised by one degree, which means for you to call it a heat wave, it needs to be at least 26 degrees. That’s not all. For it to be an official heatwave, it needs to be above 26 degrees for three days in a row. It’s all because of the climate crisis.

aerial photo of people near beach

Also, get this, babies figure out how close people are to each other by looking at saliva. You know, saliva, that’s the water in your mouth. Well, babies, they’re always watching. And they figured out that if you share your saliva with another person, maybe by sharing food, licking the same ice cream or something, whatever, you’re probably quite close to them. Now, they figured out that strangers don’t do that, so they use that to work out how good friends people are.

selective focus photography of baby holding wooden cube

And also, the number of planets known outside our solar system has passed 5000. Nasa recently found 60 more planets, which means there’s 5005 planets out there, that we know about. There are 1500 gas Giants, 200 small and rocky planets and 1600 Super Earths. And now the experts are trying to find out if they’re capable of having life.

painting of planet

Dan: Let’s catch up with Professor Hallux now. He’s one of our favourite geniuses on the show. We join him every week with his map of medicine series, you can listen to the full lot on the Free Fun Kids App, by the way. He’s looking at why you might get sick and then who makes you better. Now, this week, Hallux is having some trouble fitting into his favourite trousers. A bit like your dad, the week after Christmas. So him and Nurse Nanobot are having a look into why a healthy, balanced diet is very important.

Professor Hallux’s Map of Medicine: Weight and Dieticians

Professor Hallux: These trousers must have shrunk.

Nurse: Are you still trying to get into those trousers, professor? I told you, they’re too small. You’ve put on weight.

Professor Hallux: Nonsense, Nurse. I just need to pull them in a bit. Maybe if I breathe in…that’s torn it. They were my favourite ones, too, purple stripes!

Nurse: Professor, I can see your pants. I think you should go and find some other trousers. Bigger ones this time.

Professor Hallux: What’s wrong with my spotty pants? No pleasing some people. Well, you give us the clinical crunch on weight whilst I get changed.

Nurse: We all need food to live, but sometimes we carry too much weight for our height. And this is known as obesity. Around one in seven children are obese. And it’s thought that in 15 years time, over a third of all grown ups will be overweight too. This is something that is very much worse today than it was in the past. And do you know why?

That’s one reason lots of us get driven about in cars and travel on buses instead of getting everyday exercise by walking. Our lives today are less active. And if you don’t burn off the energy you get from the food you eat, it is stored as fat on your body.

And there’s another reason. If your diet includes lots of sugary or fatty foods, you’ll be taking in much more energy than you can burn off.

pair of blue-and-white Adidas running shoes

Professor Hallux: Right, I’m back. And you’ll be pleased to hear my pants are under wraps now.

Nurse: Much better. What a relief.

Professor Hallux: To be honest, you’re right that I need to lose a little weight. And it isn’t just so I fit into my favourite trousers. Being overweight can lead to diseases like diabetes, heart disease and other nasties. Not worth it.

Nurse: Well, that map of medicine of yours should have some brilliant info on the healthcare expert for this. A dietitian. Let’s load it up and get the low down.

Professor Hallux: Good idea, Nurse. So, a dietitian. Any ideas what they’re specialists in? There’s a bit of a clue in the old name there. Yep, you got it – diets!

But diet doesn’t mean healthy food. Diet is just the word that describes whatever you’re eating regularly. You can have healthy diets, unhealthy diets, vegetarian diets, dog food diets.

Yeah, okay, that was a joke. Mostly dogs have that sort of diet. If you are overweight or have been poorly, a dietitian’s job is to look at your diet and suggest changes to make you healthier. And it often starts with a bit of Detective work to get the evidence to solve the case. A dietitian might ask you to keep a food diary.

green broccoli

This isn’t where you talk about what some carrots did at school today. It’s a log of everything you are eating each day, from the first bite of toast to the last slurp of hot chocolate, as well as notes about what you get up to. By going through the diary, the dietitian may be able to see what sorts of foods you’re eating too much of, but there’s more to it than that. They’re often looking for clues on your lifestyles, too.

You don’t really need me to tell you that if you play a lot of computer games or watch tele a lot of the time, then you’re not going to be using up all that energy from the toasts and hot chocolates. You know that. I know that.

Sometimes things are a bit more complicated, though. Normal food shouldn’t make you feel sick. If you always have an upset tummy after eating certain foods, it might be that you have an intolerance to that food. I hope you washed your hands. If you become very unwell or find it hard to breathe after eating certain foods, you may have an allergy. These are serious medical problems, and a dietitian is one part of the chain to discover what’s making you poorly and helping you to eat safely without any nasty side effects. I beg your pardon? Right. Never mind safe. Let’s have something less sensible. Any disgusting details for us, nurse?

Nurse: Oh, yes. Where food is concerned, there are plenty of festering facts. The Guinness Book of Records is full of people attempting to eat silly things. And here’s an extremely silly record. An American lady called Sonya Thomas holds the record for eating the most hardboiled eggs: 65 in less than seven minutes. She can also eat 18 hot dogs in twelve minutes.

Professor Hallux: Eggs-cellent. Do you get it? EGGS-cellent. Oh, please yourself. Time for us to go. But before you join us again, why not explore Map of Medicine for yourself?

Answering Your Questions: What is Water Made From?

Dan: Let’s get to your questions then. If there’s anything that you want answered, anything at all about science, something rattling around your brain that you just need figuring out, let me know. Leave it as a review on Apple podcasts.

First this week is from Kyo, who is ten, who wants to know what is water made from? Now, water is very simple. It’s H2O. Now, everything in the universe is made of atoms. We know about this. They’re tiny things. They are the building blocks to everything around – to you, to something you touch, to the air. Everything is made of tiny little atoms. They stick together.

Now, when more than one different type sticks together, they’re called molecules. And groups of these molecules build up and build up and then they make everything that we know and see. Now, water is a molecule called H2O, which means there are two hydrogen atoms (H2) and they join to one oxygen atom (O), and that makes a water molecule. So that’s what water is made from. And there are billions and billions and billions of these molecules in a single drop of H2O water. Thank you for the question, Kyo.

blue body of water

Also this week from Evie in Sussex, who wants to know how can birds fly if gravity is pulling them down? Well birds wings have two big features which help out with this. They’ve got feathers and very strong muscles. Now, the feathers help trap air and they push it downwards. The muscles then force the air down to thrust the birds upwards. Now that gives them the lift.

Now, when a bird is already flying, these wings are slick and smooth. Get your head around this. It makes the air rushing towards the bird lift over the top of the wing very quickly. This means, keep up, this means there’s more air beneath the wing than above. So it pushes it into the space. It keeps lifting up and lifting up. And that’s why birds can fly when there is gravity around. It’s quite complicated, but I think we’ve done all the important bits there. Evie, thank you for the question.

blue and white bird flying on green grass during daytime

If there’s something you want answered on the Science Weekly next week, you’ve got to get to Apple podcasts and you’ve got to leave it as a review for us there.

Interview with Futurologist Ian Pearson

Dan: It’s the Fun Kids Science Weekly. I don’t know if you’ve seen this new movie that’s out on Netflix. It’s called The Adam Project. It’s all about a boy who travels into the future and then meets himself, and then they go time travelling to save the world together. That’s him and himself.

Now, I love a time travel movie, but I’m always wondering whether the stuff that you see in the future can never come true. So we’re going to find out this week with Ian Pearson, who is a futurologist. Ian, thank you for being there.

Ian: Pleasure.

Dan: Now just to clear this up for us, what is a futurologist? It sounds quite an incredible job to have.

Ian: A futurologist is just somebody who studies the future. I’m really an engineer. I’ve worked my whole career in engineering, but I’ve always been on the engineering of stuff that won’t exist for 20/30 years.

So when you’re thinking about which world you’re going to bring this stuff into, obviously you have to think about the future. And that bit is more fun than the engineering bit. So I spend most of my life thinking about what the future looks like and some of the time trying to invent the technologies that will populate it.

Dan: It’s interesting you say it’s studying the future. The word study kind of hints that you’re reading books and you’re learning what has happened. How can you possibly learn about what has not happened yet?

Ian: Well, as I said, I’m an engineer, and I look at what you can do in basic engineering, not just today, but based on latest science and technology, very fundamental core stuff. What could you do with that? If it was developed by another 10, 20, 30 years of R and D? Where might it go? What products and services might people do with that? How might companies and everyday life use these technologies, so you can invent products and services that won’t exist for 20/30 years that you couldn’t possibly build today, which you would be able to build with the technologies we know will be coming off the R and D pipelines in that sort of time frame.

So things like the lightsaber that we see on this film, it’s not really a lightsaber like the Star Wars one, but it looks the same, basically. And the idea is that you could make something like that with a suspension of graphene flakes, for example. You could suspend those in a magnetic field, and then you could shine a laser beam up and bounce it off one of those. So that whichever thing you hit with the lightsaber, you could basically cut somebody’s arm off or whatever with it. So we’ve got some idea how you might make a lightsaber already. You couldn’t do it today, but you could probably do it in 20/30 years time. So it’s a realistic weapon to have on a film that’s got somebody coming back from 2052.

Dan: What’s interesting is that we know we could do it, but we don’t have the technology today, I guess. Why don’t we have that technology you’re talking about that lightsaber that’s in the film kind of the laser sword. If we know all the different parts that we need, why have we not got them yet?

Ian: It just takes time to develop all of those bits when we have graphene flicks, but we don’t have the artificial intelligence level to be able to manipulate thousands and thousands of these in real time around a magnetic field. We also don’t have the technology to focus on magnetic field in that particular accuracy level, although it’s starting to come on. We’re starting to get very tightly focused magnetic fields through diffusion projects, for example. So we’re starting to see development of these things, but it takes a lot of time developing them.

Engineers have a lot of problems, and they can solve these problems over time, but you can’t solve them all overnight. So making something like lightsaber, we know in principle how you might go about doing it, but there are so many technology problems to solve in doing so, even with the best willingness and the best funding, you couldn’t possibly do it in less than a decade or two.

Dan: Now it’s all brilliant chatting about a lightsaber. It’s pretty amazing to grab our imagination. But what about things that actually we could use every day? For instance, what might a car look like in the future or if there even is cars in the future with how we’re thinking about the environment in 2052, what will we be driving, Ian?

Ian: I think in 2052, it’s very likely we will have pod systems where you’ve got very simple pods being driven on smart infrastructure. So they’re very cheap, probably a couple of $1,000 a pod, and they’ll just float along on magnetic linear induction mats or something like that. They might not even have wheels because you can levitate them. So you could just have very futuristic looking things. You could build a linear induction map today. You can even levitate the cars. The first one was done in 1958, I believe, but the technology to do it today, we’re already using that on the bullet trains in Japan and in China, but the technology to do the same thing with linear induction mats on the road surface and have pod systems, we could build that in the 2050 timeframe.

That would be fairly routine technology in most urban areas. And that’s a very low cost way of doing public transport, which would be all electric and driven by a very smart infrastructure. So it doesn’t even have to have big AIs in each individual car because it’s driven by the infrastructure. It also doesn’t have to have very large batteries. So it’ll be very environmentally friendly, very lightweight pods, very cheap, very socially inclusive, because it could pick you up your front door and take you to exactly where you want to go.

So things like that in the transport systems, we see these things all the time in futuristic sci-fi, where people are picked up by pods that are automatically driven. That’s entirely realistic. And again, we know more or less how you might do it. Today we’re just waiting for the individual bits of the technology to roll out through the production lines and the R and D, so we will get there.

Dan: What are the other headlines in 2052? What are we seeing?

Ian: I think in 2052? Artificial intelligence and robotics will, of course, be a lot more refined. 30 years is an eternity in technology terms. So today we’re talking to our Alexa and Siri and so on. By 2052, these will be as smart as human beings. You’d be able to have perfectly normal, natural conversations with probably conscious computers, which are talking back to you with a full repertoire of emotions. So your best friend might be computers, basically AIs, and the robotics that we see on the film, just androids walking around, doing things that’s entirely realistic.

Again, we might have some of those wandering around our houses as servants and companions, so we would have a lot of those robotics. They might not look the same as the ones on the film. That’s just artistic licence, but you can make them look pretty much any way you want. We already know more or less how to do the kinds of realistic androids that you see on other science fiction, like Westworld for example, where they look very human like. So we could have that sort of stuff, too.

Drone technology, we see a little bit of that in the film that could be a lot more developed in 2050. You could have a little flock of drones, maybe insect sized ones, floating around you all the time, taking selfies of you from every angle, monitoring what’s going on around, advising you what’s going on and telling you what you might do and acting as your interface to the technology around you.

white and black digital wallpaper

Dan: There’s so much going on, I guess. Lastly, the film, the Adam Project, it’s all about time travel. Will that ever happen? Is that a possibility?

Ian: Well, in the film, we have real time travel with the guys coming back from 2052 to meet his former myself, it isn’t the kid going forward in time, it’s the older version coming back in time to 2022. But the idea of time travel, it’s theoretically possible in some interpretations of physics, but we really haven’t got a clue how to do it.

Realistically, something to do with wormholes might work, and that’s kind of what they use on the film. So that’s a realistic possibility of doing it that way. There is no chance we’ll be able to do that by 2050. It’s probably several decades later than that. And we don’t have any understanding of physics that says even whether you’d be able to survive such a thing, coming back through a wormhole, it might tear you apart at the molecular level, for example.

But there is one part of time travel which is feasible, say, by 2050, we’ve got such a good link between computers and our brains, using futuristic versions of the direct brain links we’re already starting to develop today. And if most of your mind is existing in the cloud, you could make a backup of that and you could make a backup of it every single day. So in 2200, you could come back in cyberspace and have a realistic chat with your 2050 self. So that’s a kind of time travel in cyberspace. It’s not real time travel. You’re just accessing a previous record on the database. So there’s no real time travel involved. But it would feel like time travel, you’d be able to go back and talk to your former self as if you were doing it for real.

Dan: Incredible. There’s so much to look forward to, isn’t it? Ian Pearson, thank you so much for joining us.

Ian: Great pleasure.

Dangerous Dan: The Tree-top Disease

Dan: Now this week’s, Dangerous Dan. It’s all about a bacteria, a virus that makes insects do something very strange indeed. The tree-top disease affects creepy crawlies. Normally moths, butterflies, caterpillars. Now they get it by eating dead insects that they find.

Ugh – and the virus then gets in. It takes over them and it makes them act oddly. Very oddly. It turns them into a zombie. Tree-top disease makes these caterpillars become obsessed by the light. It takes over them. And because they want to get closer to the sun in the sky. They climb the plants. They climb the trees. They want to get as high as they can until eventually they reach the top and they can’t go any higher.

Now, experts don’t really know why this happens, but it does. They try to get up as high as they can. And then, when they’re there, sadly, the creepy crawlies die. And then their bodies lie waiting for another scavenger insect to come along. Fancy a strange snack of an old creepy crawly. And then it starts all over again. The cycle continues. They eat it. They get turned into a zombie. They climb as high as they can. Then they die. Then they get eaten. And that thing, it climbs as high as it can. It keeps going on and on and on. It just happens. It’s just one of those things in nature. No one really knows why, but it means the tree-top disease goes straight onto our Dangerous Dan list.

Dan: Now, this is an episode from our Age of the Dinosaurs series, and you can listen to all of these and time travel whenever you like on the Free Fun Kids app. We’re looking at the Cretaceous Period and all the creatures around then. Now at this point, the world was home to more animals, more plants, more nature than ever before. So many different species and they all behaved in different ways. Some preferred to live on their own and others loved being with their mates in a herd.

Age of The Dinosaurs – Cretaceous Period: Living Alone or in Herds?

Narrator: Welcome to the Cretaceous Period, which existed between 65 and 144,000,000 years ago. The world, by this point, was home to a wider variety of environments and species than ever before. And different species behaved in different ways, some preferring to live on their own, others liking the company of the herd.

Child: Uh, oh. Let’s hide! We’ve got company

Narrator: Don’t panic. It’s a herd of Iguanodons. They’re plant eaters and more interested in the vegetation around here. They have to be, as they need to consume the equivalent of 300 bananas every day. Iguanodon fossils have been found all over the world, which means they were a common sight in Cretaceous times. They reached up to eleven metres in length and were experts at stripping greenery and fruits off plants.

Child: Cool! Did you see? It looks like they have hands.

Narrator: That’s true. Iguanodons could stand on their rear legs and use their hands to grasp vegetation, a task made easier by their flexible fifth finger. They’re on the move again. There they go.

Child: Bye! I like them.

Narrator: Fossils of many Iguanodons have been found jumbled together in one place, which tells us that they moved in a herd with the adults likely to band together to protect the young from predators. But not all dinosaurs behaved this way.

Child: Yes. Look at that poor thing over there. Maybe he’s lonely.

Narrator: Don’t worry, that’s a Pinacosaurus with plates of armour all over his back and an enormous club on the end of his tail. He can look after himself. That tail is perfect for swinging at anyone who thinks he’d make a tasty dinner. Armoured dinosaurs such as Pinacosaurus are known as ankylosaurs, meaning armoured dinosaurs. They were plant eaters too, like the iguanodontians. But in fossil finds there is usually just one of them. So they probably lived and died alone.

Child: Look another herd and these seem in a hurry.

Narrator: Quick, duck and hide. It’s a pack of Velociraptors. These sneaky hunters are carnivores and can bring down animals much larger than us. Not only do they have razor-sharp teeth, deadly curved claws and an ability to run fast, they also have very large brains. They were believed to be intelligent enough to hunt together when necessary, outwitting their prey to tear it to pieces. That Pinacosaurus is flexing his tail. Ready? Quick, let’s run.

Fossils have been part of the Earth for millions of years and studying them is something palaeontologists are experts at. Once larger rocks in an area have been cleared away. Hammers chisels and pics are used to tap at the Earth around the fossil to loosen it further. These pieces of rock and Earth are called the matrix. Then a series of brushes from stiff to soft are used for delicate work. If the fossil needs to be moved it’s often wrapped in a plastic cast to keep it safe. Just like the sort you would get if you broke your leg. The fine work of removing the remaining rock from the fossil then goes on back at the museum’s laboratory.

Dan: And that is it for this week’s Fun Kids Science Weekly. Thank you so much for listening in!

Now, if there is something you want answered on this show next week as a question, leave it as a review for me on Apple podcasts. While you’re there, it’s one of the best places that you can hear loads of series that we do. You heard Age of the Dinosaurs and Professor Hallux this week, on there we’ve got tonnes more.

They’re also on Google, they’re on Spotify really wherever you get your shows they’re also on the free Fun Kids App and at funkidslive.com and Fun Kids, we are a children’s radio station from the UK. Listen to us all around the country on that DAB digital radio and at funkidslive.com.

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