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Imagine you grab a cup of water to drink, and it’s so murky that you can’t even see through it. Would you drink it?

For many people around the world, this isn’t a hypothetical question because they don’t have a choice.

All images via P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water.


Right now, 663 million people around the world don't have access to clean drinking water. Some live in rural areas where there is no centralized water system or water treatment plant, meaning that they rely on local river or lake water. Others live in areas still recovering from a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, and the water is contaminated.

Faced with no other water source, they are forced to drink the water they have access to — even if it could lead to sickness or serious diseases, such as cholera or typhoid.

But what if there were an easy — and affordable — way to purify even the most contaminated water and make it clean enough to drink? Well, it turns out there is.

In 1999, Phil Souter, a chemist and an associate director of research and development at P&G, was working on a project to effectively recycle laundry water when he had an idea. He wanted to create a powder packet — like a detergent — that could scrub cloudy and dirty water of anything harmful and turn it into safe drinking water.

So he put together a proposal, got it approved, and went to work.

"What I was trying to do was miniaturize what takes place in water treatment plants," he explains, "and miniaturize that into a packet that a consumer could easily use, that wasn’t expensive, and that was a bit of a one-size-fits-all so that it could literally treat any source of drinking water."

Creating such a solution was no easy feat.

To be successful, the packet would need to be able to kill off any and all bacteria and small parasites found in all kinds of different water sources, from lakes and rivers to wells and flood waters, while also being able to remove heavy metals and other harmful chemicals.

And it would need to do this in an inexpensive, timely way (because who wants to sit around for hours waiting for a drink of water?). Of course,the new, clearer water would also need to taste good (not like a bunch of chemicals — yuck). Plus, all of the steps to do this would have to fit into a small sachet — no special equipment allowed. Oh, and it also would need to have a decent shelf life so that it could be distributed without expiring before it even got there.

"So really, there were a lot of technical challenges to solve," Souter says.

But after a little over two years of testing and development, Souter and his team created a powder that could do everything it needed to do.

It's called the P&G Purifier of Water sachet.

Just 4 grams of the powder can clean up to 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of dirty water in just 30 minutes. The purifying packets are about the size of a teabag, and they have a shelf life of three years, meaning that it is easy to stockpile them in places that need them.

The best part? The water purification process could not be simpler: All you need is the packet, a bucket of water, a stick, and a cloth.

Here's how it works:

First, you stir the water and powder for five minutesso that harmful things — such as heavy metals, parasites, and dirt — are pulled out from the water and they coagulate together to form small insoluble particles. The water immediately starts to look clearer.

Then you let the water settle for five minutes. This is when all those small particles clump together — in a process called flocculation — to form bigger, heavier particles that fall to the bottom of the water container.

Once all the clumps have settled, you can strain the water with a piece of cloth or fabric as you pour it into a new, fresh container.

Then you let the water sit for 20 minutes while the water disinfects and kills any remaining bacteria and viruses. After that, the clean water is drinkable (and it can be stored for later).

So far, the water purification packets have been incredibly helpful in addressing water crises and shortages all over the world.  

The packets remove more than 99.9% of common waterborne bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (microbial organisms) from water, and they have helped reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by up to 90%.

"For those rural communities that don’t have access to a sustained water solution — like a pipe system — these packets are an excellent solution that can be a bridge to those more permanent options for communities," says Allison Tummon-Kamphuis, manager of P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program. They can also make a big difference after a natural disaster.

Since the packets were created, P&G has worked with 150 different partners around the world — including CARE, ChildFund, PSI, Save the Children, and World Vision — to provide 11 billion liters of clean water to those in need.

And the company is continuing to scale up work to help distribute the packets to even more places that need them. In fact, the packets were named one of the world’s most impactful innovations in 2012.

The packets are having a particularly important role in improving the health of children around the world. "I meet so many little girls around the world — I have two daughters myself," Tummon-Kamphuis says, "and to meet young girls who have all sorts of dreams and seeing them have some of the barriers removed that would have gotten in the way of them achieving them is very memorable to me. And it’s not just young girls. It’s boys as well."

While Souter has moved on to other research and development projects at P&G, he still remains proud of the work that he did on bringing these packets into the world.

"My work on this project has been a source of both personal pride and humble understanding," he said in 2012, "as I've come to realize that every once in a while, life puts us in a position — opens to us a door — to make a difference."

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

via GIPHY

A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

via GIPHY

It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

via GIPHY

Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

via GIPHY

Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

via GIPHY

Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

via GIPHY

Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

via GIPHY

It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

via GIPHY

I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

via GIPHY

Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

via GIPHY


No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

via GIPHY

The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

via GIPHY

Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

Giphy

Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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