Yesterday was the 110th anniversary of air conditioning. The building pictured above—1040 Metropolitan Ave. in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York—was the first building in the world to enjoy the luxury of cold air blowing on a blisteringly hot day.
A junior engineer from a furnace company figured out a solution so simple that it had eluded everyone from Leonardo da Vinci to the naval engineers ordered to cool the White House when President James A. Garfield was dying: controlling humidity.
The junior engineer who tackled the problem was Willis Carrier, who went on to start Carrier Corporation. The solution he devised involved fans, ducts, heaters and perforated pipes ... Carrier’s plan was to force air across pipes filled with cool water from a well between the two buildings, but in 1903, he added a refrigerating machine to cool the pipes faster.
It's a neat technological story, and as the New York Times piece points out, Carrier's invention wasn't just about making people comfortable. In the beginning, it was about allowing a specific job to get done even when the weather was hot. In fact, air conditioning is still the tool that makes things like computers possible, by creating dust-free, low-humidity clean rooms where the parts can be manufactured.
Read the rest of James Barron's piece in the New York Times City Room blog
NASA’s AIRS instrument captured this image of Tropical Storm Fay around 2 p.m. local time on July 10, 2020, as the storm swept through New England. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Tropical Storm Fay is sweeping across New England, with the center of the storm making landfall about 10 miles (15 kilometers) north-northeast […]
The deadly 2013 El Reno tornado was 2.5 miles (4 km) wide and killed a team of tornado experts. But as Anton Seimon explains, his colleagues turned that tragedy into an opportunity to confirm a key element of tornado formation.
Some snakes have evolved the ability to glide through the air. For example, paradise tree snakes in southeastern Asia can launch off from a branch and fly as far as 10 meters. Scientists have known that the snakes flatten their bodies to gain lift but new research reveals that they also undulate their bodies as […]
The notion of two people sleeping in the same bed always inspires romantic visions of love and intimacy. However, most quickly realize that the romance of sleeping together is often quickly replaced by the realities of the act. One partner snores. The other talks in their sleep. One grinds their teeth. The other hogs the […]
Add Internet of Things to the shortlist of those actually benefiting from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. You might not realize it, but the organizing principle that is bringing more automation to the world is actually proving to be a major asset as human beings are forced to stay home and away from the […]
We’ve all had those nights where we’re working on a laptop or scrolling through our phone before glancing at the time to find it’s actually a lot later than we thought. Most nights, you’d be fast asleep or at least dead tired at midnight or 1 or 3 a.m. But after staring at a screen, […]