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This isn’t your usual “Make Me Smart” episode. From the delayed Artemis space shuttle launch to the decline of crab populations and the weight of dragon eggs, we’re going down a big rabbit hole or, shall we say, into the dragon’s den. Get ready to get smart about the news you probably didn’t hear anywhere else.
Here’s everything we talked about today:
- “These recycled space shuttle parts are now powering Artemis I to space” from Tampa’s Fox 13
- “‘At the Top Level’: Serena Williams Sets Her Sights on Venture Capital After US Open” from Bloomberg
- “Pakistan floods: One third of country is under water – minister” from BBC News
- Alaskan king and snow crab populations have plummeted from The Washington Post
- “‘They said it was impossible’: how medieval carpenters are rebuilding Notre Dame” from The Guardian
- “Is it safe to toss a Targaryen dragon egg? An eggspert weighs in.” from Vox
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Make Me Smart August 29, 2022 transcript
Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.
Kai Ryssdal: All right, Juan Carlos? Hey everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.
Kimberly Adams: And I am Kimberly Adams, thank you for joining us this Monday. We’re gonna do the news, and then share a couple of make me smiles. But we’re gonna start off with the news fix. Kai, yours is the one that I really wanted to do, so go ahead.
Kai Ryssdal: All right. I know, I know. I know. I know. I’ve got one real one, and then one sort of “huh, that’s interesting”. So I woke up bright and early this morning, Pacific time, as I usually do, about four three quarter five. And by the time I was out of bed, the Artemis I launch had already been put on hold, and then eventually, as hopefully you all have seen in whatever headlines or social feed you have going, the launch got scrubbed, and they’re gonna try again on Friday. Here’s the thing that blew me away, that I learned this morning that I had not known. Turns out they’re using, reusing Space Shuttle rocket motors on this big rocket, which I had not known. And those Space Shuttle rocket motors like flew repeatedly and repeatedly and repeatedly, they took them out and they fixed them up and they sent them around again. Anyway. So this was a problem with engine number three today, we discovered. And early in the morning this morning, I saw crossing my Twitter feed a schematic of the bottom of that rocket. And also the shuttle missions that engine number three had flown on. It flew in 2006, 2009, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Had flown Discovery five times, Atlantis once. Yes, super, super cool. I had no idea. Oh, and also, by the way, did you know that the launch director for this flight is a woman?
Kimberly Adams: I did not know that.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Yeah. She is. Her name is Charlie Blackwell-Thompson.
Kimberly Adams: Sounds like somebody we should talk to?
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, she’s, she just sounds super cool. A little bit like, sort of in the same mold as Gwynne Shotwell at SpaceX. Anyway, yes. So, she’s a woman. But also, those rocket engines got reused, which I just, I had no idea, and I think that’s really cool and it makes a lot of sense and all that good stuff. Anyway, I just thought people might be interested to know that. The other thing people might be interested to know, those of you who are tennis fans, essentially, for those of you who are tennis fans, the US Open starts in the next couple of days. It is officially Serena Williams’s last tournament, although my sense will be that her transition out as she talked about in those articles a couple of weeks ago. It’s just my plugin, I wouldn’t put it past her. Anyway. In Bloomberg today, just in passing, I saw she wants to run a billion-dollar venture capital fund when she’s done playing tennis, and damned if she’s not gonna be able to do that. I think, I just think that’s super cool. Super cool.
Kimberly Adams: That she’ll do it well, too.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, for sure. For sure. For sure. Anyway, sort of more interesting little tidbits of news today as opposed to big news stories. Because, honestly, Jesus, come on, right, you know?
Kimberly Adams: Well, now I feel bad about my story.
Kai Ryssdal: Well, no, you know what, sorry, I should clarify. I should clarify. There is really important, earth-shattering news coming from this country, and many other parts of the globe. It’s the grind-on of cable news crap and incremental news and timeline this and number of pages that, they’re just, I’m just done with that. But there is absolutely real news and I apologize for intimating otherwise.
Kimberly Adams: Nah, it’s alright. It’s a lot and it wears on us, because we’re human beings. But the story that I have just been astonished by is all this flooding in Pakistan. I mean, my goodness, like if you’ve seen some of these videos and images of whole buildings just being washed away. Last I checked, more than 1,000 people have been killed in these floods and these monsoons are, you know, so bad. And it came – I guess what really jumped out to me is that, this is our new normal. You know, you can’t even say that this is rare anymore. 1/3 of Pakistan is underwater, and a lot of these places only just finished rebuilding from really bad floods in 2020. And I’m looking at this BBC article, officials estimate that more than 33 million Pakistanis – that’s one in seven people – have been affected by this historic flooding. I want you to think about that for a minute, about what that actually means. One in seven people, imagine if one in seven Americans was like actively dealing with a flood situation, like either loss of life, loss of home, loss of crops. And this comes after they dealt with like such extreme heat, you know, droughts and everything like that. And these extreme weather events are our new normal. And, you know, it’s easy to be distant from the sort of cost of it, because we have a lot of these climate disasters here in the US. But because of our infrastructure, because of our resources, we don’t really have the kind of death toll that they have associated with these things in many other places. And I wonder how that’s gonna continue to play out as we continue to have more and more of these climate disasters; the places where the climate disasters kill a lot of people and the places where they don’t. And, you know, another sense of that kind of, just the other side of the climate change and global warming story of, you know, there’s a loss of life and these horrible, horrible things that are going on in Pakistan and elsewhere. But then there’s also smaller ways that it shows up in our day to day lives. My friend in St. Louis sent me this article about the astonishing decline in snow crabs and king crabs. So if you’re a crab person, and you’ve been trying to get crab legs recently, you probably found that they were extraordinarily expensive. And at first, I thought it was something related to the pandemic. But it’s actually that the snow crab abundance in Alaska, and I’m reading from this Washington Post story, like fell off a cliff. And now like, they’re not even finding enough for these fishermen to meet their quotas. And they close the season early last year, and they’re waiting sometime in mid-October, they’re gonna find out if they’re even going to have a season this year. And this is the kind of, you know, crabbing that you’ll see if you ever watched the Deadliest Catch and stuff like that, but really, wow.
Kai Ryssdal: It’s crazy. It’s crazy.
Kimberly Adams: Are you a crab person?
Kai Ryssdal: Am I a crab person? Interestingly, no, although we did watch Deadliest Catch for a very long time. There you go.
Kimberly Adams: I’m a big fan of shellfish. But it’s quite pricey.
Kai Ryssdal: Yes. Juan Carlos, let us do that thing. Okay, so mine comes courtesy of when Kimberly Adams who saw me floating around in the Google doc today looking for a making me smile, and she said, here’s one. It’s a piece in The Guardian out of the UK, about the reconstruction of Notre Dame, which let’s remember, President Macron has promised is going to reopen in 2024, which is like the day after tomorrow, if you’re rebuilding a 12th and 13th century wooden roof. So there’s a village in France, where they do this kind of work, the kind of 12th and 13th century work on trees, because it was all trees, right? Huge, giant, old trees that built the roof of Notre Dame back in the 12th and 13th centuries. So they do this kind of work. And all these little guys from this little town are helping out to build Notre Dame. And we will put it on the show page. It’s just a cool little slice of, you know what, everybody’s got a skill set, and everybody can contribute. And I thank you Kimberly for sending it my way. It kind of made my day today.
Kimberly Adams: Oh, good. Yeah, I thought that story was so cool because as technology moves on, we lose a lot of skills that people used to have to do by hand. And in this case, this idea of hand hewing a tree into a beam, and doing it that way as opposed to making a beam out of wood process – out of a sawmill. Like, it matters for the structural strength of the roof or something like that. Super fascinating. My making me smile is super specific. And it’s kind of only relevant if you’re watching the prequel to Game of Thrones, the House of Dragons on HBO, which I am. And there was a scene – I’m not going to give too many spoilers for folks who haven’t watched it yet. Suffice it to say, there was a very tense scene in the latest episode where there is a debate over who should control a dragon egg. And in Game of Thrones, these dragon eggs are extraordinarily precious because dragons are very important, right? And one of the characters basically tosses the dragon egg to another character very dismissively, in, you know, kind of frustration, kind of like whatever, you can have it, right? And it shocked me because this is like very valuable. They’re on a very high place and whatever, like dragon egg. Vox has an amazing explainer about whether or not it is safe to toss a dragon egg, and they talk to all these experts in lizard eggs and in bird eggs, and different types of shells and what happens when you toss an egg, and why it matters, the type of egg that’s tossed in terms of its consequence, and whether or not the dragons in Game of Thrones were more lizard like or more bird like, and that matters for the density of the shell and all these things. Very interesting. And way down a random rabbit hole, but it made me smile.
Kai Ryssdal: That’s great. So, let me just say, I think they’re more lizard like than bird like, those dragons. And also, when I saw this, which I watched today by the way, because I fell asleep on my wife and one of my kids started watching it like 10 o’clock last night. I’m like it’s bedtime! Anyway. So I watched it today. I watch it just this afternoon. That scene where you see Matt Smith – just a little spoiler alert, but whatever. It’s been 24 hours – where you see Matt Smith throw the egg? It didn’t ring true. It didn’t have enough heft. He literally just kind of like, like you would do a beach ball. Right. Exactly. And you’d think that a dragon egg would be heavy. Right. Exactly. Exactly. So just cinematographically, I had a little issue with that. But this is a good little explainer, for sure.
Kimberly Adams: Yeah, that’s a good point. It did seem rather light, right? The things we pay attention to. It’s like, forget all the other amazing CGI and everything like that. Yes. I was very disturbed by the crab scene.
Kai Ryssdal: Oh my goodness. Oh, my God. Yeah, no, but I still don’t understand why it’s there. But I guess we’ll figure it out later. Anyway, yeah, that is all for today, dragon eggs and crabs and the whole deal. Tomorrow we are doing productivity. Why it matters, why it’s not growing as fast as a lot of economists would want it to, and whether that ought to be something we ought to be thinking about. So we’ll do that for the Tuesday show.
Kimberly Adams: Yeah, and if you have questions or comments about productivity, and – I always say productivity, is it productivity, which one is it?
Kai Ryssdal: I say productivity, but whatever.
Kimberly Adams: I’m gonna check. Alright, our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can also call us and leave us a voice message at 508-U-B-SMART.
Kai Ryssdal: I bet you it says both are okay.
Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I never know if it’s like a regional thing, or I’m just wrong.
Kai Ryssdal: Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera. Today’s program is engineered – is that Jayk? I’ve been saying Juan Carlos but it’s Jayk the whole time? God I’m so lame. I’m so lame. Jayk. I’m really sorry.
Kimberly Adams: Our Senior Producer is Bridget Bodnar and the Director of On Demand is Donna Tam.
Kai Ryssdal: Thanks for the correction Bridget in the slack so that I didn’t embarrass myself in front of Jayk. Appreciate that.
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