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Hurry up and invent it. July 15, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Inventions are different from discoveries, as several astute readers recently pointed out on our friend Ben’s post about two brilliant men and bitter rivals, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Discoveries are abstract; inventions are their practical applications.

One of the great inventions of our day—at least for people who hate heat and humidity, like myself and Silence Dogood—is air conditioning. Air conditioning allows us to survive indoors in the summer and to ride in our cars in cooking-hot conditions. Without air conditioning, we would be packing up and moving to the Arctic Circle.

So, we ask ourselves, why hasn’t someone invented the personal portable air conditioner, a wearable device that allows us to walk around outside in sickening heat and humidity without passing out and expiring? About the best options we have are wringing out a bandanna in ice water and putting it around our necks, or taking a spray bottle of water and ice and spraying our exposed body parts whenever we’re feeling too hot. Both of these techniques rely on evaporative cooling, a very short-term solution.

In the era of Google Glass, surely the PPAC should be doable. Somebody, get on Kickstarter and start raising money! Our friend Ben read just this morning that somebody has raised $3 million and counting for an updated version of the classic picnic cooler. How about a people cooler?!!! We’ll be happy to test the trial version(s). If we can air condition a house and car, we should be able to air condition ourselves. Hurry up, please!



1. Frater Zee - July 15, 2014

Hi Si . One way to cut the cake is –> “invention” is to create a new principle or device which does NOT already exist in Nature, whereas “discovery” is to understand (and exploit) a principle (or system) which DOES already exist in Nature. By this logic, electricity and magnetism were *discovered* (millenia ago) by Greeks by observing Nature. Whereas air conditioning was *invented* in 1800’s, although it is based entirely on phase-change principles (boiling, freezing, melting, evaporation, condensation, crystallization) which were discovered by alchemists centuries ago.

For your requested PPAC –> strap thermoelectric thermoelectric cooling plates (from a Peltier Effect beverage cooler) to your forehead, palms and soles of feet, with battery pack in pocket.


Luddite alternative –> hold wrists (and/or feet) in a stream of cold water. Cheers!

Thanks, Frater Zee! I actually use those flexible ice packs you can buy at the pharmacy and keep in the freezer, but can only use them at night to help me cool down enough to sleep. (They are helpful, but you can hardly cart them around with you.) My hope is for a simple device that you can wear around your neck like a necklace (or one of those medical alert devices). Can’t see myself strapping things all over the place!

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