TheInvention of Air Conditioning
Theimportance of technology cannot be gainsaid as far as the efficiencyand comfort of the contemporary human society is concerned. Indeed,every other aspect of the contemporary society seems to depend on thevaried technological inventions that have been devised includingcommunication and transport among other inventions. This has enhancedthe dependency of human beings on these inventions. It goes withoutsaying that some inventions are seen as more important than others asthe very lives of individuals are dependent on them (Whitmanet al, 2005).Nevertheless, any invention worth mentioning always led to otherinventions, which means that every discovery or invention had acertain effect on industrialization. While there are numerousinventions without which human beings cannot live without, few wouldbe in the same league as Willis Carrier’s invention The AirConditioner.
Numerousattempts had been done in the past to come up with cooling systems,none of which bore any fruits. Indeed, attempts to regulate indoortemperatures started in ancient Rome where the wealthy individualsused the remarkable aqueduct system to circulate cool water via wallsin their homes. Nevertheless, large-scale air conditioning effortsdid not emerge in western countries until the 19thcentury when a group of well-funded American engineers startedlooking for solutions to the heat problem. As at this time, fansfilled the void as the coolant of choice, although hand fans had beenused in China for more than 300 years. Similarly, a Chinese inventorwho lived in the second century had been credited with coming up withthe first room-sized rotary fan which was powered by hand.Architecture may have played an immense role in regulation oftemperature in the pre-modern times (Whitmanet al, 2005).Indeed, conventional Middle Eastern constructors ensured that thewindows were facing away from the sun with larger buildingsincorporating “wind towers” that were aimed at capturing andcirculating the prevailing breezes. However, the history of airconditioning, as an invention goes way back to 1902, when the firstmachine that bore resemblance to modern air conditioners was built byWillis Carrier. This was in an attempt to avert the possibility ofpapers wrinkling in the humidity and heat at the Saackett-Wilhelmslithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn. Willis, whilewaiting for his morning train, saw a bank of fog that was rollingover the station platform’s lip and discovered the all-crucialtheory pertaining to dew-point control. Of particular note is thefact that the invention that he came up with was a refrigerator thatwas deficient of the insulated box. Refrigerant gas would becompressed until it had been liquefied, after which it would be takenthrough an expansion valve that resulted in its evaporation. This,essentially, resulted in cool air, which would then be distributed bythe fan. Originally, Carrier used ammonia although later inventorshave eventually started using Freon (Whitmanet al, 2005).Nevertheless, the principle that underlay the technology has not beenmodified or altered even in the least. Further, scholars have notedthat Carrier’s air conditioning system borrowed heavily fromconcepts pertaining to mechanical refrigeration that had beenestablished in the earlier times. In essence, his system sent air viacoils that were full of cold water thereby cooling the air whileremoving moisture at the same time so as to control the humidity ofrooms (Kittle,2001).About 21 years later, the Carrier Air Conditioning Company ofAmerica, which had been established by Willis, came up with an airconditioner that used belt-driven condensing units, as well as itsassociated blower, evaporator coil and mechanical controls. Thislater devise evolved into the model of the growing United Statesair-cooling systems’ marketplace. In the 1920s, air conditioningsystems became considerably smaller in size as more modificationswere made to them. Nevertheless, today’s air conditioners areprimarily based on the same basic science as the 1933 systemalthough varied improvements have been made so as to includeelectronic sensors, energy efficiency, materials and otheradvancements in vapor compression, controls and diagnosis. Indeed,scholars have acknowledged that there was a marked difference betweenthe early models and the later top-of-the-line central airconditioner that incorporated a two-stage scroll compressor thatensured a quieter and more energy-efficient performance (Fischeret al, 2008). As much as air conditioning systems were considered thepreserve of the rich and wealthy individuals, they have eventuallycome to be inculcated in almost every other home and workplace, aswell as in appliances. Indeed, scholars note that air conditioninghas developed from being a luxury good to more of a necessity andmade an immense contribution in numerous ways to the quality of lifein the United States and the industrialized world at large. Scholarshave also noted that the invention had a multiplier effect on theindustrialization at large (Fischeret al, 2008). Indeed, air conditioners modified architectural designspertaining to housing thereby allowing for the construction ofwindowless office buildings, as well as houses that do not haveporches not to mention the obvious enjoyments and benefits pertainingto comfort cooling. Its multiplier effects on industrialization comeout as most distinctive.
First,the invention of air conditioning systems allowed for theconstruction of industries and offices in places where they couldpreviously not be established. In the past, the choice of locationfor any business was not only dictated by the availability ofresources and the proximity to the customers or target market ratherclimatic conditions would also have a bearing on the same. On thesame note, individuals would often stop working and seek coolerplaces in instances where the conditions had become too hot. However,the invention of air conditioning systems allowed for the maintenanceof proper working conditions in places where the same could not beachieved. This essentially allowed for the increase in the pace orrate of industrialization. Scholars note that since the mid 20thcentury, air conditioning has been solely responsible for the immenseeconomic development of the entire American Sunbelt. The South wasnot won by cowboys but by the invention of the air conditioningsystems. This is also the case in other parts of the globe. Forinstance, the capitals of Asian tiger economies, Japan’s financialcenters and Dubai among other gulf hubs would be entirely unthinkablewere it not for temperature control (Trott&Welch, 2000).This is also the case for the software that underpins and links themas computer technology performs dismally in hot and humid conditions.Indeed, information superhighway would crumble in the heat were itnot for the presence of air conditioning systems. Similarly, hi-techprecision weaponry can only be manufactured in low and stabletemperatures.
Onthe same note, the invention may have allowed for the invention ofother luxury technologies both at the time and in the contemporaryhuman society. It is well noted that every other form of machine orinvention in the contemporary human society incorporates some airconditioning systems. This includes phones, computers, cars, fridgesand other machines. It is well noted that in the past, individualswould have to drive cars over and over with their windows open justto keep cool (Trott&Welch, 2000).Nevertheless, the invention of air conditioning systems has enabledfor more inventions to be made. Not only do people have the time andnecessary conditions for making these inventions, but they alsoincorporate the air conditioning systems in their inventions so as tomake them more operational. Researchers state that computers throwoff ounces of energy and heat, in which case the development andgrowth of the whole information technology industry could not havehappened without the varied cooling technologies that are firstpioneered by the invention of the air conditioning systems.
Similarly,the invention of air conditioning systems may have determined theeconomic fortunes of countries and regions. Locations such as Texas,Georgia, New Mexico, Florida and Southern California experiencedabove-average economic growth in the last half of the 20thcentury, which would not have been possible without the invention ofair conditioning. This is especially considering that the share ofSunbelt’s national population increased from about 28% in mid-20thcentury to approximately 40% by the end of the century(Ananthanarayanan,2005).This is not only as a result of the increased capability for livingthere but also the fact that a large number of industries wereestablished in or moved to these places. This not only resulted inincreased populations but also increased employment opportunitiesthat raised the per capita income in these states (Fischeret al, 2008). The increased wealth, therefore, raised the prospectsfor the establishment of other industries leading to increased growthand development.
Furthermore,the multiplier effect of the invention of air conditioning onindustrialization has been underlined by the increased demand forelectricity. Researchers have noted that air conditioning was adopteden masse by home owners in the United States at the postwar period,with over a million units being sold in 1953 (Hundyet al, 2008).Indeed, the increased sales were heavily attributed to two keyindustries including homebuilding and electric companies (Hundyet al, 2008).Home building companies vigorously advocated for the adoption of airconditioning systems as the invention served their needs in buildingnumerous cheap houses. Utilities, on the other hand, were onlyextremely happy to continue ramping up or increasing the electricitysales to the developing suburbs. This created the impression that airconditioners (ACs) were status symbols that individuals who did nothave them had to drive with their windows wound up even in hightemperatures so as to create the impression that they indeed had them(Ameen,2006).This need for status drove the demands for the systems up andconsequently the demand for the electricity. This means that numerouselectricity generation plants had to be established in order to meetthe increased demand for the same (Ananthanarayanan,2005).In countries such as China, the demand for electricity has beenhigher than its supply, more so in Shanghai, which has forced thegovernment to make regular decrees obliging hotels, shopping mallsand offices to set their air conditioning systems to no lower than 26degrees Celsius. Underlining the effects of the invention of airconditioning systems on the generation of electricity is the factthat a coal-fired power plant is established somewhere in China everyten days (Ameen,2006).Such coal-fired power plants are sufficiently large to serve everyother household in Dallas. Studies have shown that China makes use oflarger amounts of coal than Japan, European Union and the UnitedStates combined (Langley,2000).As much as this may be the key reason why it is home to about 50percent of the world’s most polluted cities, the increasedconsumption of electricity has been attributed by the desire by theChinese to have cool and comfortable homes at all costs.
Inconclusion, every other aspect of the contemporary society seems todepend on the varied technological inventions that have been devisedincluding communication and transport among other inventions. Thishas enhanced the dependency of human beings on these inventions.While there are numerous inventions without which human beings cannotlive without, few would be in the same league as Willis Carrier’sinvention The Air Conditioner. The history of air conditioning, asan invention goes way back to 1902, when the first machine that boreresemblance to modern air conditioners was built by Willis Carrier.This was in an attempt to avert the possibility of papers wrinklingin the humidity and heat at the Saackett-Wilhelms lithographing andPublishing Company in Brooklyn. While numerous modifications havebeen made to enhance the effectiveness of the air conditioningsystems that were devised in 1902, the fundamental or underlyingprinciple has remained the same (Prasad,2003).Even more distinctive were the effects that the invention had on theindustrialization of the United States and other parts of the globe.First, the invention of air conditioning systems allowed for theconstruction of industries and offices in places where they couldpreviously not be established. This is because it increased theviability of certain locations that could previously not house anyindustry or office. For instance, the capitals of Asian tigereconomies, Japan’s financial centers and Dubai among other gulfhubs would be entirely unthinkable were it not for temperaturecontrol. This is also the case for the software that underpins andlinks them as computer technology performs dismally in hot and humidconditions (Prasad,2003).On the same note, the invention may have allowed for the invention ofother luxury technologies both at the time and in the contemporaryhuman society. It is well noted that every other form of machine orinvention in the contemporary human society incorporates some airconditioning systems. Furthermore, the multiplier effect of theinvention of air conditioning on industrialization has beenunderlined by the increased demand for electricity. This need for airconditioning systems, which were seen as a status symbol, drove thedemands for the systems up and consequently the demand for theelectricity. This means that numerous electricity generation plantshad to be established in order to meet the increased demand for thesame.
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