Segments in this Video

Introduction: Cool: Quirky Science (01:03)


We owe air conditioning to the mosquito. In this program, we'll learn the crazy path that led to the invention of the cooling system.

Early Attempts at Cooling Machines (02:55)

In the mid-18th century Dr. William Cullen set out to develop a cooling machine in hopes of curing malaria. But cold air didn't cure malaria, and his machine was forgotten. Many other designs were patented over the next century.

You Can't Create Cold (01:01)

You can move heat from one place to another. When energy is applied to liquid, evaporation occurs. The process of evaporation is explained. As you perspire, energy is taken from the skin, cooling you down.

Willis Haviland Carrier Invents the Air Conditioner (02:23)

Observing fog, Carrier theorized that cooling humid air could reduce its moisture content. He converted a heater so excess moisture condensed on the coils. Though designed to control humidity, the device also cooled and cleaned the air.

Early Industrial Uses of Air Conditioning (01:11)

Rail was one of the first industries to benefit from Carrier's invention. The first industrial air conditioning installed by Carrier was for a printing company in New York. Other industries soon followed, including tobacco and textiles.

A Necessity of Modern Life (01:41)

Air conditioning is essential to technologies like computers and pharmaceuticals. Without it, cities with a hot climate could not flourish. Soon movie theaters, shopping malls, and offices were air conditioned. Homes and cars were next.

Cooling Food (02:07)

Air conditioning and refrigeration developed entirely separately. Before the refrigerator, ice houses were used to provide cool storage. Frederick Tudor pioneered the ice industry. Soon refrigeration with ice became widely available to ordinary households.

The Icebox and the Refrigerator (02:27)

Thomas Moore, a dairy farmer, invented the icebox and coined the term refrigerator. Years later, Jacob Perkins harnessed the compression cycle to build a true refrigerator. There were thousands of such patents. The compression cycle is explained.

Early Refrigerators Rejected Due to Safety Concerns (01:44)

Refrigerators from the late 1800s used toxic gases as refrigerants, leading to fatal leaks. This motivated Einstein to design a cooling machine with no moving parts to avoid coolant leaks. But it wasn't made commercially available.

Dirty Ice Leads to Safe Refrigeration (01:57)

When reliable sources for clean ice became scarce in America, research into safe refrigerants took off, leading to the discovery of Freon. In 1921, mass production of refrigerators began. Freon was proven nontoxic and nonflammable.

The Refrigerator Goes Mainstream (01:04)

The killer image of the fridge was put to rest with the discovery of Freon, which was standard for over 50 years, until concerns over damage to the ozone layer led to a search for another way to refrigerate.

The Search for a Replacement for Freon (02:48)

Hydrofluorocarbons were a less than perfect solution. DSO Laboratories is studying thermoacoustic chilling, using sound waves and inert helium gas. The same technology is being studied for air conditioning.

The Eco-Friendly Refrigerator of the Future? (01:37)

NASA developed a solar-powered refrigerator. Sundanzer machines plug into a solar panel. They need five hours of sunlight per day. The downside to consumers is the costly installation of solar panels.

Credits: Cool: Quirky Science (00:44)

Credits: Cool: Quirky Science

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Cool: Quirky Science

Part of the Series : Quirky Science
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



Cooling is more than a luxury—nowadays it's a necessity. Without refrigerated shipping and stocking, fresh food wouldn’t reach our supermarkets so easily. Can you imagine living without it? Air-conditioning, on the other hand, was invented as a means to control the humidity that was ruining the paper of printing offices, rather than as the technology we now use to cool off. This program discovers that you can’t create cold; you can only “move” temperature from one place to another. Learn how early refrigeration units used all sorts of chemicals that were harmful to the environment—and how new technology may provide a solution: cooling via the vibrations of sound. That does sound cool. Part of the series Quirky Science. (25 minutes)

Length: 25 minutes

Item#: BVL50325

ISBN: 978-1-62290-683-3

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“The use of short, archival films, excellent graphics and clever still images holds viewers’ attention....A useful device to motivate students and to open detailed discussions about the science of heat, the history of refrigeration, and modern concerns about creating eco-friendly machines.” —Science Books & Films

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.