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Heroes

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

Is he on to something big or just crazy?

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!

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Health

This company makes it easier than ever to enjoy guilt-free fairly traded coffee

Thanks to Lifeboost, good coffee can be good for everyone.

Unsplash

Lifeboost coffee

Americans love coffee. Like, we really, seriously, truly love it. According to one recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee at least occasionally, while 53 percent—about 110 million people—drink it every single day. For some, coffee is an essential part of their morning ritual. For others, it’s something they enjoy when they hit the proverbial wall in the late afternoon. But either way, millions of people use coffee to boost energy, focus, and productivity.


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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

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34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

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With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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