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It's someone's job to scrub Mount Rushmore, and the pictures are amazing.

These cleaners brave the elements to clean historic monuments.

It's someone's job to scrub Mount Rushmore, and the pictures are amazing.

Cleaning national monuments is not a job many people know about.

But Thorsten Mowes has been doing this job for 24 years — almost his entire career. “It started off as a small project in Germany and as it was a good idea, it has since expanded all over the world,” he told Caters News.

Thorsten Mowes has a more intimate knowledge of the world's most famous monuments than perhaps anyone else on the planet because he's spent his entire career cleaning them. Photo by David Franck/Caters News.


Mowes has dangled from the Space Needle, been face-to-face with Christ the Redeemer in Rio, and stood on George Washington's nose at Mount Rushmore.

In total, Mowes (who works for Karcher, a German company that developed the first hot-water pressure washer) has worked on over 80 monument projects worldwide, and he's made many of the landmarks you know and love sparkle like new.

The projects range in size and complexity. Sometimes they're small projects with a few crew members, and other times they're massive projects that include cleaners, engineers, photographers, and support staff.

Photo by Caters News.

When Mowes worked on the Space Needle, they had to work around the daily operations of the site, which is a tourist destination.

He says they only worked at night, often in high winds, using helmet lamps, harnesses, and electric hot-water pressure washers.

Photo by Caters News.

With a lot of these projects, Mowes and his crew have to be mindful of the conservation of the edifice and of the environmental impact of their cleaning. So, often, like on the Space Needle, they clean using only hot water — heated to 194 degrees fahrenheit.

He also routinely comes across logistical challenges on these projects, like at Mount Rushmore.

When he cleaned Mount Rushmore in 2005, "there was no water supply nearby, no roads to give you access to the top, and the object itself is huge," Mowes told Caters News.

"In the end, we had to fly our equipment to the top in a helicopter, and have the local fire department use their fire engines to help pump the water to us through 2km long pipes. And all this had to happen while tourists still had access to see it too."

Photo by Caters News.

This cleaning is incredibly important because monuments and landmarks are susceptible to damage and corrosion.

Mowes and his crew worked with the National Park Service to remove lichen, algae, moss, and other stains from the faces of the sculpture, and the results are pretty stunning.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Without their heroic efforts, we could potentially lose the monuments altogether.

So cheers to these incredible people who tackle ridiculous obstacles to preserve and restore these monuments. Not all heroes wear capes ... some wear safety harnesses!

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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The difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

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.

Keep Reading Show less