Monday, June 8, 2009

History & Air-Conditioning

I used to hate history. In school it was dry and boring. You would say the word history and everyone would grunt or groan as if in pain.

But now I find history fascinating. I’m not sure why. Little known stories about real people or inventions. Our history classes told us about some inventions like the cotton gin, penicillin, and the automobile. But what about all those everyday items we use that we don’t even think twice about.

I found a fascinating book call Origin of Everyday Things by Johnny Acton, Tania Adams, & Matt Packer.

Did you know that air-conditioning dates back to ancient times? People in hot environment have always sought out ways to cool their environment. The Babylonians splashed water on the outside of the dwellings to draw heat from the inside as it evaporated. Egyptians would moisten mats/veils and hang them so the warm breeze would cool as it went through them.

British scientist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) discovered air could be cooled by compressing ammonia. American physician John Gorrie (1803-1855) used tubs of ice to blow cool air over his patients during an outbreak of yellow fever. In 1902 Willis Haviland Carrier (1876-1950) built the first modern air-conditioner for a printing plant to keep the paper dry so it could be aligned correctly.

So due to these ingenious people, we can stay cool and dry on hot summer days or when traveling in our cars.

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