The Heat Wave Without Air Conditioning? Unimaginable.

Happy birthday air conditioning, you're 110 this year!


Today temperatures are expected to climb into the high 90's, the National Weather Service has issued an air quality alert for the southern parts of Connecticut and some bigger cities are opening cooling centers.

Now imagine all this without air conditioning. That was the state of things during another heat wave in 1902, a blast of scorching air along the East Coast that led to the invention of air conditioning by a low-level engineer working for a furnace company in New York City. He figured out what many other well-known great thinkers hadn't for centuries; that if you removed humidity from the air it would cool things down.

Not only did that breakthrough allow millions to enjoy the cool environs inside office buildings and public spaces, but it provided engineers the dust-free conditioners that were required for the invention and widespread use of the first computers.

So while the summertime triple H conditions return today - heat, haze and humidity - and you retreat into whatever air conditioned interior you can find, give pause and a cool thanks to Willis Carrier, the engineer who invented air conditioning.

Sean July 18, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I often wonder what those who first set up the 13 colonies would think about our mollycoddled age. Can you imagine getting off the boat from England or Ireland and experiencing a New England Summer/Winter for the first time without ice/down jackets? We want it all Goldilocks - not too hot, not too cold, and squeal like stuck pigs when we don't get it. Rather than think, 'oh gee, I'm sure glad I've got this 'lectric gizmo' how about we remember how tough those first few generation must have been to clear these hills in this weather - and how soft we have become. And as for the invention of computing - Babbage didn't have air-con, and Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers (who built Colossus - go wiki) had a war and Bletchley Park to build that (with rationing and no air-con). And after all that you just refer to a low level engineer - his name was Willis Haviland Carrier in Buffalo, NY - not NYC. And yes, I am a cranky pedant - I don't have air-con where I'm typing. Time to go build me a swamp cooler....


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