A brother and sister in the Philippines invented a lamp that runs entirely on metal and saltwater.
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CARE & Windows 10

How do you light your home when you don't have electricity and you can't afford gas?

You use this.


Photo by SALt/Facebook.

It's an ordinary handheld lamp, with one big difference: It requires no fuel.

Instead it's powered by a few strips of metal. And saltwater.

The lamp was designed by brother-sister team Raphael and Aisa Mijeno.

Aisa and Raphael Mijeno with the oversized check they received for winning the IdeaSpace Philippines start-up competition. Photo by SALt/Facebook.

The Mijenos live in the Philippines, where many rural communities don't have access to electricity.

When Aisa embedded with one such community while working for Greenpeace, she realized there was a major problem that needed solving:

Living without electricity forces residents to use kerosene-powered lanterns as their primary light source. But acquiring kerosene can be a huge challenge if you don't have access to transportation, as many in those communities don't.

"What the people do is, they walk for 12 hours just to buy a bottle of kerosene," Raphael told Upworthy. "And that's good for two days."

Saltwater, however, is as cheap and plentiful.

"In the Philippines, even in [low-income households], you will surely find three things: water, rice, and salt," said Raphael.

The lamp can run for eight hours at a time on one glass of water and two teaspoons of salt.

Two different types of metal are submerged in the saltwater. This throws off excess electrons, which then travel from one metal to the other via a wire, producing electricity that powers the LEDs.

According to Raphael and Aisa's company Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt), unlike kerosene lanterns, the saltwater lamps are not a fire hazard and can safely be set up inside the home.

The lanterns are also versatile. People living in inland villages can use homemade saline solution to power the lamps. Those in coastal communities can simply use ocean water.

The electrode rods in the lamps have to be replaced roughly twice a year, but the Mijenos expect that to prove more convenient and cost-effective for families in rural areas than buying gas for a traditional fuel lamp.

Raphael says the lamps are generating lots of interest around Southeast Asia and India.

SALt has big goals. Aisa and Raphael hope to eventually build a saltwater-powered generator that can power a whole house.

After that, perhaps a saltwater power plant.

Not a saltwater power plant. Photo by Wknight94/Wikimedia Commons.

But for now, they're getting ready to (hopefully) put the lamps into mass production.

According to Raphael, they're already getting major support from start-up incubators across East Asia as well as grants from organizations like USAID.

"We're looking to get the final prototype out before the year ends," Raphael said.

If they do, thousands in the Philippines, and potentially around the world, could benefit tremendously.

Aisa Mijeno with residents of un-electrified Barangay Gabi and a prototype lamp. Photo by SALt/Facebook.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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