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In Japan’s summer, you might hear people say “It’s not the heat that gets you, it’s the humidity.” People might say something like that about the air conditioner. It wasn’t invented to fix the heat, it was invented to fix the humidity.
In the hot, sticky New York summer of 1901, the paper at a Brooklyn publishing company expanded, making it hard to properly print color pages. So the publisher turned to a local heating company. One of its engineers, 26-year-old Willis Carrier, invented the world’s first modern air conditioner for the publisher in 1902.
His machine moved air over cold metal coils. The coils were kept cold by pumping liquid ammonia through them. The air conditioner not only kept the humidity low, it cooled the air too.
Carrier constantly made newer, better models. And he quickly realized that a machine that could pump out dry, cool air would find buyers in many different industries. In the 1920s, movie theaters began using them, and that helped make going to the cinema a wildly popular pastime.
But air conditioners changed more than just cinema; they let businesses and people move to areas that had been too hot to live. In the U.S. Sunbelt, in Middle Eastern countries and in large parts of Asia, including Japan, air conditioners helped to supercharge modern economies.
They’re still helping. In the middle of a pandemic, new models can ventilate rooms using air from outside, cutting down the risk of spreading a virus that travels on the air we breathe. (T)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.