The inventor of AC probably said “I spit in the face of people who don’t want to be cool.”

Summer heat can leave a lot of us heading inside and cranking up the air conditioner.

Some places leave the A/C on pretty much the entire season.

And yet, if you look at the history of this invention, you’ll find quite a few times where people said, are we sure this is a good idea?

Humans have been trying to treat air to make it colder for centuries.

A professor in Glasgow, William Cullen, developed a kind of refrigeration back in the mid 1700s.

And the first US patent for mechanical refrigeration was issued in 1851.

The holder of that patent was a doctor named John Gorrie.

He wanted to keep yellow fever patients comfortable in the hot, humid weather, so he built a steam engine that could cool the air.

You’d think Gorrie’s “ice machine” would be a big hit, but he ran into several challenges.

Chief among them was that the companies that sold ice to warm-weather states did everything they could to tamp down the idea of an artificial cooling machine.

Gorrie never made any money off his revolutionary invention.

The next guy in the story fared better.

Engineer Willis Carrier set up an industrial fan so that it blew air over steam coils that contained cold water.

His cool air machine was a hit, but it wasn’t originally intended for cooling people.

Instead, he was trying to help a publishing company avoid selling smudgy, blurry color images to its customers.

The new machine faced some of the same resistance that John Gorrie had encountered.

Some people even said if God had wanted people to have cooler air, He would’ve made the climate different.

Fortunately Carrier was good at talking up his machine.

And air conditioning managed to partner with another big invention of the early 20th century: movies.

People loved going to see pictures, and when they did, they loved that they were sitting in a cool, comfortable theater rather than a hot, sweaty one.

In the second half of the 20th century air conditioning was so popular that Americans were more likely to have an A/C unit than a dishwasher.

And while there are still concerns about the amount of energy it takes to run all those air conditioners, there’s no sign yet that they’re going out of fashion.

I’m pretty sure even the icemakers have gotten on board with this invention by now.

Today in 2019, the world got a peek into the wild side of zoo life.

The Tobe Zoo in Japan held a lion escape drill.

That’s an understandable thing for a zoo with lions to do.

But what caught the world’s attention was that the drill featured a human inside a lion costume.

The actual lions did not look terribly impressed.

The Unexpected History of the Air Conditioner (Smithsonian)

Japanese zoo staff chase furry fake lion in escape drill

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Photo by kristinafh via Flickr/Creative Commons