CAMP Fitness: Who Wants to be Hot?
by Rick Moore
Summer is in full swing and brother, is it ever hot out there! Remember back an issue or two, I said how wonderful it was to come back from the beach, hop into that outdoor shower, dry off outside and step inside to a wonderful air conditioned environment called home? That feeling of coolness on your skin is truly sensual.
What a luxury air conditioning is. And to think, of the effect it has on our health and well-being. It's become practically a necessity in our daily lives during the warmer months. The heat can play havoc with the health of both young and old. Those of us with asthma, allergies and other health issues have a hard time. But air conditioning helps remove dust and pollen from the air, so it's a big help.
Can any of you remember back a couple of years when the city of Chicago went through a devastating heat wave that killed over 300 people? Many were elderly shut-ins in un-air conditioned spaces who died from heat prostration. It was so hot, there were reports of people dying after being outside only a few minutes.
Our own area has suffered many heat waves with our electricity being turned on and off (called rolling blackouts) to try to conserve enough energy to service all our cooling needs. At my house, when the power goes off it's a real hardship, because it also controls the water supply. Try having guests over with no air and no water. Kind of puts a damper on things, to say the least.
We should really thank the man who invented air conditioning. Can you guess his name? A little Jeopardy music now... Time's up. His name was Willis Carrier of Buffalo, New York. And now for the bonus round, in what year did Mr. Carrier invent the basics of modern air conditioning? More Jeopardy music please... OK, it was 1902.
To be fair, Mr. Carrier did not invent the term "air conditioning." That honor goes to a gentleman named Stuart Cramer, a textile engineer. Cramer used the term "air conditioning" in a patent filed for a device that added water vapor to the air in textile plants to "condition" the yarn as it was being processed. Though the term may not be his, Mr. Carrier is still known as the father of air conditioning.
How did Mr. Carrier come up with such a great idea? Haven't the foggiest? Well believe it or not, that's just itthe fog. At 25 years old, Mr. Carrier was waiting on a fog-bound train platform late at night, when it dawned on him. He saw there was a relationship between temperature, humidity and the dew point.
In a simple air conditioner, the refrigerant is a liquid that changes into a gas. It is pumped through a set of coils. The refrigerant evaporates, making the coils cold, and in the process it absorbs heat contained in the air. The moisture in the air condenses on the cold surface and runs down the coils to the drain. The cooled and dehumidified air is returned into the room.
Still with me? Complicated? In the meantime, the vaporized refrigerant is compressed and forced through condenser coils, which are in contact with the outside air. Under these conditions the refrigerant condenses back into a liquid and gives off the heat it absorbed inside. This heated air is expelled to the outside, and the refrigerant re-circulates to continue the cooling process. Did I lose anybody? It sounds very complicated but it works.
In some units the two sets of coils can reverse functions so that in winter, the inside coils condense the refrigerant to heat the room. Many new homes now have this system, which is called a heat pump. But then, you knew that.
Industries were the first to benefit from air conditioning. Meat packing plants, and manufacturers of celluloid film, batteries, capsules for pharmaceuticals, and even soap, are but a few of the many businesses who used it.
Most Americans experienced air conditioning for the first time in the movie theaters. Can you imagine going to see a flick when the temperature outside is 90 to 100 degrees, and there was no air conditioning? No way. Well, it was first installed in some movie houses in 1924, and it quickly caught on. People lined up for blocks, not really for the film that was playing, but for the air conditioning. By 1930, more than 300 theaters had their own units.
The J. L. Hudson Department Store in Detroit was one of the first retail stores to install it. Shoppers were pleased and sales increased. OK, now what was the first car with an actual refrigeration system? Their slogan was, "Forget the heat this summer in the only air conditioned car in the world" (not too catchy, is it?). If you said Cadillac, as I did, you'd be wrong. It was Packard, which was my second guess. And the year? 1939. Cadillac followed in 1941 with 300 cars equipped with air conditioning. And it was Cadillac that actually improved on the system to make it much easier to use.
So there you go. Can you imagine your supermarket, your favorite outlet store, or your favorite gym without air conditioning? Not in today's age of technology. It's all for the better, health-wise. And we should thank that genius Willis Carrier, not just for cool air, but for high power bills, too! Life is good. See you at the beach.
Rick Moore is a personal trainer certified by American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Visit his club, Rick's Fitness & Health in Milton. He's on the Internet at http://www.ricksfitness.net, or cal 302-684-3669.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 10, No. 8, June 30, 2000