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Inventor of the N95 mask is coming out of retirement to help make them better
via Dave Yen / Twitter

Over the past few weeks, the N95 respirator has gone from gear worn by people working in hospitals or on industrial sites to something you see your neighbor wearing when they're walking their dog.

The tight-fitting mask with a pliable metal piece near the nose does a lot more than provide a protective barrier for the mouth and nose.

According to The University of Tennessee, it "uses an electric field to ionize the neutral air to generate ions and electrons, which then charge the nonwoven fibers through field and induction."


The N95 respirator is one of the biggest heros of the COVID-95 pandemic because it has prevented countless people from spreading and contracting the deadly virus. It has also made it possible for healthcare workers to work closely with people who've been infected without contracting the virus themselves.

The "N" in the respirator's name stands for "not resistant to oil," and "95" is because it has the ability to remove at least 95% of submicron particles, such as viruses, from the air.

via Alamosa County Public Health / Flickr

It was invented by material scientist and engineer Peter Tsai and his team at the University of Tennessee in 1992 in an attempt to develop electrostatic filtration technology. The respirator would go on to be used in industrial settings until it was later discovered to be effective at preventing the spread of diseases in medical settings.

The N95 received a U.S. patent in 1995.

Tsai is a world-renowned expert in nonwoven fabrics and was a professor at the University of Tennessee's Material Sciences and Engineering Department for 35 years before retiring last year.

However, his retirement was short-lived.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he's come out of retirement to find new ways of sterilizing his respirators so the single-use masks can be used for longer periods of time.

"I just want to help people, and just do my job," Tsai said in an interview with NPR.

via Red River College / Flickr

The N95 masks are in short supply across the world, so many people are using chemicals such as alcohol and bleach to sanitize them for reuse. But that can cause them to deteriorate and become ineffective.

So researchers from around the globe have been filling Tsai's inbox for suggestions on how to sterilize their masks.

Among those who've been experimenting on ways to sterilize the masks is a collective known as N95DECON that's been working with heat, a form of ultraviolet light, and hydrogen peroxide vapor.

Maha Krishnamoorthi, vice president of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, calls Tsai that a "rock-star" and says he's become the "man of the hour" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"And he said, 'No — I'm man of the minute,'" Tsai told Krishnamoorthi according to NPR. Tsai believes that the people wearing his masks are the real heroes.

"The front-line hospital workers — they are heroes," Tsai said. "I'm just trying to help them to wear the mask."

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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