He's been at it for 50 years, but this scientist still says tornadoes can save us.

How long would you work to create something, even if lots of people told you it couldn't be done?

Louis Michaud has been working on his project for 50 years. He believes it's possible to harness tornadoes to generate electricity.

Michaud is trained as an engineer. He's been working away (mostly in his basement and garage) for years and most of that time without any outside support. Flora Lichtman and Katherine Wells interviewed him about his invention for a series they're doing on ways people are responding to the challenge of climate change.


"We don't like to use the word tornado because it scares people," Michaud says. He calls his invention the Atmospheric Vortex Engine.

A vortex is created by heating air, which rises and pulls in more air tangentially at the base of a circular wall. The heat source can be solar energy, waste industrial heat, warm sea water, or simply warm humid air. The electrical energy would be produced by the incoming air flowing through turbogenerators located around the periphery of the station.

In 2012, Michaud won a $300,000 Breakout Labs grant (funded by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal) that allowed him to build a prototype. He has succeeded in creating tornadoes. But they've been unpredictable. Detractors (and there are plenty of them) say things like it'll take more energy to produce the tornadoes than they'd make and that horizontal winds will prevent the tornadoes from forming.


But Michaud keeps going.

"Once you get the realization that something is possible, something that could really improve our lives, I would consider it treacherous to abandon it." — Louis Michaud

Plenty of scientists and inventors labor in obscurity for years (here's a fun list). Only a few of them accomplish major celebrated breakthroughs, and that can take decades.

Galileo's idea that Earth revolves around the sun (instead of the other way around), for example, led to the 16th century controversial astronomer being accused of heresy, and he was forced to endure house arrest for the rest of his life. Barbara McClintock published about "jumping genes" in the 1950s, but her work was not understood or accepted by other scientists for 20 years. She finally received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1983 (the first woman to win that prize unshared). Swiss physicist Fritz Zwicky wrote about dark matter and neutron stars in the universe in the 1930s and 1940s, but his discoveries were considered outlandish for 40 years.

Will tornado man Louis Michaud join this group?

I certainly hope so. While harnessing tornado power might seem outlandish, Michaud's ideas are in good company. Hydro, solar, tidal, and wind energy all use the energy of nature to drive machines — and they are the best thing we've got going to help us kick our fossil fuel habit.

Three cheers for the mad scientists!

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."