Heroes

'Star Wars' fans can thank conservationism for these super cute new characters.

You can thank puffins for the creation of the newest cuddly creatures in the 'Star Wars' universe.

'Star Wars' fans can thank conservationism for these super cute new characters.

If you've seen "The Last Jedi," you probably have some strong feelings about porgs, the adorable little bird-creatures from Luke Skywalker's hideaway planet of Ahch-To.

They're super cute. Personally, I am a huge fan of porgs. I mean, look at that adorable little face and plump little body! If you're not a fan, though, that's fine (I mean, you're wrong, but it's fine).

I want one. Yes, please. Image via Lucasfilm Ltd.


One thing you might not know about Porgs, however, is that they owe their existence to real-life conservationism. Seriously.

Ahch-To is actually the Irish island of Skellig Michael, which, as you can see, is absolutely stunning!

I want to go to there. Image via Lucasfilm Ltd.

There's just one issue: Skelling Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In other words, it functions as an animal sanctuary of sorts, meaning that the "Star Wars" cast and crew had to be really careful about not disturbing the local wildlife.

One major challenge? It's home to a lot of puffins.

OMG they are so cute! Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

"When we scouted [the island], it was covered in puffins," director Rian Johnson said in an IMDB interview, saying that he wanted to "figure out the 'Star Wars' version" of the cute creatures.

"This is part of the island. We've got to figure out the 'Star Wars' version of this." GIF from IMDB/YouTube.

As actor Mark Hamill adds in that same interview, the puffins weren't exactly known for respecting the cast and crew's boundaries.

"Since they're protected, if you sit still, they kind of swarm around you." GIF from IMDB/YouTube.

Rather than trying to digitally erase dozens of puffins that could pop up in the background of a shot, Johnson decided to just roll with it, and porgs were brought into existence!

Thanks, environmentalism!

In an interview on StarWars.com, concept designer Jake Lunt Davies explains the visual inspirations behind the finished porg product. "It was influenced by a seal, and a pug dog, and the puffin," he said. "The big eyes of a seas or the big eyes of a pug dog and the sort of funny, ugly face [of a pug]." Somehow, it all works.

It's always neat when something good, like conservationism, ends up resulting in something even better, like porgs.

While there are all sorts of reasons you should care about the environment, it never hurts to have one more (especially when the new reason is adorable). Do it for the porgs!

A behind-the-scenes look at a porg. Image via Lucasfilm Ltd.

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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via Wikimedia Commons

Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming sits on the wrong side of a rift in her party that her career may not survive. Her refusal to believe and promote the "Big Lie," as she calls it, has not only put her leadership role as the third-ranking House Republican in jeopardy but her place in politics altogether.

The Big Lie is the right-wing conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and that the insurrection on January 6 wasn't incited by GOP lawmakers.

Cheney has also become persona non grata in her party for being one of the few Republican lawmakers to vote to impeach the former president for his role in the Capitol riot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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