It's time once again to give thanks for Willis Carrier, who made living in Central Florida something people might actually want to do. My grandparents, who lived two blocks from the beach on the Atlantic Coast, where there was almost always a cooling sea breeze, managed fine without air conditioning, but the center of the state is another matter altogether.

I've written before about the Carrier story: Weathermakers to the World. Today you can read a celebration of the 115th anniversary of that great invention on The Occasional CEO, the author's blog. Item #3 is my favorite:

3. I have a lot of favorite stories from Weathermakers, but this might be the best. It was on a foggy evening in 1903, on a train platform in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ... that Willis Carrier conceived the idea that he could dry-out warm, humid air by passing it through water—specifically, fine droplets of a cold water spray. This spray could create a far larger surface area for condensate than metal pipes, and had the distinct advantages of cleaning the air of dust, and avoiding the nuisance of rusty pipes.

To this day, it's difficult to convince some people that a good way to dry air is to force it through water. 

If you happen to be in Pittsburgh and want to visit the spot of Carrier's famous insight, have a meal at the Grand Concourse Restaurant at Station Square.

That rang a bell, and I checked my records: We had done just that, back in October of 1998, when we passed through Pittsburgh as part of Janet's Grand Circle College Tour. This was also the occasion when we met Heather's friend Jon, who would later become our son-in-law. Desirous of treating the college students to a nice meal, we followed someone's suggestion and ate Sunday brunch at the Grand Concourse. At the time I had no idea of its momentous history.

I was shocked by the high prices—$20 per person—which shows how long ago 1998 really was. Or possibly the cost reflected more on the difference between Pittsburgh and Orlando, in which case I am all the more grateful to Willis Carrier for his work to make Central Florida habitable.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Edit
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I am grateful, not only for Mr. Carrier, but also for the price of electric power in Florida.

The heat here in Puerto Rico is worse than in Florida, because of the added humidity. However, I am unable to afford central air conditioning due to the high price of electric power here.


Posted by Diane Villafane on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 5:47 am

I wonder if Puerto Rico can learn from California, which has so much energy they're giving it away? Not, apparently, to consumersóthough consumers are benefitting in other waysóbut they've been known to pay other states to take it. Actually, it's a complicated situation, but apparently the state's policy of forcing utilities to buy solar power from individuals has resulted in so many rooftop installations they are sometimes flooded with more power than can be used. I think solar power is still too expensive here, but prices are coming down. Using the sun to power air conditioning is as delightful a thought as drying air by forcing it through water.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 6:14 am

Thank you! And for those of us worried about "the cost of cool," a good piece here:

Posted by Eric on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 7:58 am
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