James Dyson and his bladeless fan:
Electric Fans have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some of the homes I stayed in had really ancient looking models hanging off the ceiling – solid stainless steel, rounded housings and short blades. In the 70s, we got to try the then new & locally-made ceiling fans that had longer shafts and longer, slimmer blades – which provide more breeze, but also tended to wobble a lot.
I have a vivid memory of being 10, sitting in a Malayan Railway train carriage (travelling between Kuala Lumpur and Taiping), and watching the ceiling mounted fans rolling about in a circle. A simple gear and strip of metal fixed at one end translated the spinning motion of the blades around the shaft into a movement of the whole fan so that it served to cool a larger part of the carriage – on a time share basis. All one had to do was wait. The fans rattled a lot – and were audible even over the steady clakety clakety sound track coming from beneath.
The biggest fans I got to see close up were those mounted on commercial aircraft engines. Massive affairs, but still running on the same principles as the humble ceiling and standing fans I grew up with. Engine/Motor spins shaft. Shaft spins blades. Blades push air. Heat and humidity are defeated and airplanes hurtle through the atmosphere.
I’m a fan.