Thursday, March 20, 2008

yes, i do think about stuff like this.

Maybe some of the people who read this will not understand why I care.

My limited-but-thus-far-sufficient understanding of thermodynamics has been experiencing a difficulty lately. This all began in June, when I went from my Redwood Cottage in the hills to a swanky flat in Singapore to visit Vic. Redwood Cottage is primitive as can be (like Robinson Crusoe) and we make no very modern attempts to control the climate. In Sweltering Singapore, however, I noticed the air conditioners, probably because I had not seen them for so long. It is very nice on our mountain and though we do heat in the winter, there is no need to cool in the summer.

My understanding of air conditioners and machines that make cold has been facilitated by a fundamental idea that we do not make cold, we simply move heat. Because of the inevitable enthalpy (or entropy?) of the mechanism, it has to dispose of not only the heat being removed from the room/refrigerator but also of the heat that is produced in doing so. This means that your engine runs hotter when you run the air-con, the back of the fridge warms your dorm room, and the big fancy central air system is not possible without a ferociously warm blower outside. The outside of the fridge can be hot or the bulk of the box AC unit that sticks out of a bedroom window can be hot. It is a process that is doomed to producing heat, which is acceptable as long as the heat is released elsewhere.

Anyway, I just realized that I never did come to peace about the air conditioning in Singapore. The machines were about a foot tall by three feet wide and about 7.93 inches deep and they were mounted to the wall near the ceiling of a room. The part I can't figure out is what it does with all of the heat that it removes from whatever part of the machine is becoming cold. It must produce even more heat than it is taking out of the room, and if the entire machine is inside the room, how does that work out?

I guess I am mostly fascinated by the idea of Hot and Cold (or Light and Dark) being a presence and absence thing. Dark and Cold do not exist, which was an example from a very stirring part of a C.S. Lewis book, if I recall.

Question of the day: If I could invent a flashdark, what could you do with it?

4 comments:

  1. Too late,Nate. We already have flashdarks. It's that little switch on the wall. But when you do invent a true hand-held flashdark, I'll use it when I want to flash a movie on the wall.
    David/pappa

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  2. hey! here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra $800 last month, checkit out... the site is here

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  3. ahhhh, more fodder for why I LOVE this blog.

    a flashdark.... hmmmm. very interesting idea ... one I will be pondering for the whole weekend probably. I'm not sure what I would do with it. I'll figure something out.

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  4. Please do not humor the poor fool jason dittle, who feels free to use my blog comments as some sort of cheap advertising for his pyramid scheme. We might ask how a site called "alwaysfreestuff2" could possibly give someone an "extra" $800. In fact, "the" extra $800, as though referring to a previous conversation with me. I don't want everyone who reads this to think that I approve of such. I feel like a vandalized overpass in a dangerous part of town, but instead of an artistic tirade against 'the man' I'm the lucky overpass that gets the phone number for some weight-loss scam. Checkit THAT out, jason dittle.

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