For 107 hours, Portugal didn't need any fossil fuels. Here's how they did it.

Can you remember where you were from 6:45 a.m. May 7 to 5:45 p.m. May 11?

A lot happened during those 107 hours. The bison became our new national mammal. President Barack Obama announced that he would be the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima. Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivered a soul-stirring condemnation of North Carolina's discriminatory HB2 bill.


U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Something pretty wild happened in Portugal during that time too. For those 107 hours, Portugal was a completely renewable country.

Photo from Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images.

For just under five days, Portugal generated all of the electricity it needed from completely renewable sources. Fossil fuels still burned for other stuff — cars, for instance — but for those magical 107 hours, 100% of their electricity demand was covered by renewables.

The news comes from a report by the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association and Zero, a renewable energy association. In 2011, the country performed a similar feat but only for a few hours.

Part of what's really cool is that Portugal isn't tied to just one clean energy technology. It's trying a lot of different ones.

A wave power machine in near the Portuguese town of Povoa de Varzim. Photo from Joao Abreu Miranda/AFP/Getty Images.

As of 2015, about 22% of the country's electricity is coming from wind power alone, but Portugal also uses hydroelectric, wave, geothermal, and solar power as well as biofuels (which are the renewable cousins to fossil fuels).

What might be more impressive is how quickly Portugal's renewable energy sector has grown.

In 2013, Portugal got about 26% of its energy from renewables. By 2015, that had grown to more than 50%.

A solar power plant in Serpa, Portugal. Photo from Ceinturion/Wikimedia Commons.

How did they do it so fast? Portugal's government has invested in renewable energy like crazy. Portugal has been giving renewable energy producers guaranteed prices and payments as well as picking up a lot of the new infrastructure check.

Yes, this has left a considerable deficit for the government to deal with, but it says it has plans to eliminate it.

Portugal's not the only country with an impressive record in renewable energy lately. Take Denmark, for example.

Denmark's amazing at wind power. In fact, one particularly windy day last year generated 140% of the country's electricity needs.

Danish Queen Margrethe visits a offshore wind farm in 2013. Photo from Henning Bagger/AFP/Getty Images.

In fact, tons of countries are getting in on this. Germany recently generated so much renewable energy consumers were actually paid to use their electricity. In 2014, Latvia, Austria, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland also generated the majority of their electricity need from renewables.

Renewable energy is happening. Fast. And America can do this too.

The United States still gets the vast majority of its electricity from nonrenewable resources, particularly coal and natural gas, but with the right programs, it's estimated we could provide as much as 80% of our energy needs through renewables by 2050.

Portugal didn't use magic to make its record 107-hour run happen. That success was based on political will, investment, and readily available technologies — stuff we can, and should, start doing today.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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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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