The ice industry, part 5/5

Summing up:

The ice trade journals from the ’20s show an industry starting to grasp its decline, and responding in predictable ways.  We need better salesmanship, we need to work harder, we need to organize better. By 1933 the decline was heard in radio comedy. An episode of Mirth Parade (not online now) has an iceman lamenting the loss of customers. The host assures him that “there will always be an iceman until somebody invents an electric refrigerator that knows how to make love.” I doubt that the trade groups appreciated this reputation!  The housewife had constant contact with the route men for ice, coal, milk, groceries, and mail, giving her a window into the world of business that wasn’t available to the husband in his factory or office.

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When I do research for these tech history pieces, the old books bring gifts well beyond the subject at hand. One 1914 textbook shows how physics lost its coherence and explanatory power when it abandoned the ether.

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It is now a commonly accepted theory that heat is a wave motion or vibration of the ether that pervades space. All bodies are made up of minute particles called molecules. When these molecules are at rest the body is cold. Conditions arise, however, that cause these molecules to vibrate rapidly, and impinging against one another they are made to fly apart. The wider apart the molecules separate and the more rapidly they are caused to vibrate the hotter will become the body. The vibrations of the molecules of one body cause the ether surrounding that body to vibrate in the same cadence, and the vibrations radiating in all directions, in wave-like motions, strike the surrounding or nearby bodies, setting up similar motions in the molecules composing them, consequently increasing the molecular activity and causing them to become hotter.

The ether, which propagates heat waves to surrounding objects, is a supposed medium filling all known space, even within the densest of bodies, as, for instance, air fills the spaces between grains of sand. This medium is thought to be more elastic than ordinary forms of matter, and to be sensitive to only certain forms of energy, such as light, heat and electricity. Magnetic and electric phenomena can be explained as due to strains and pulsations in this ether.

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Vastly clearer than the ‘action at a distance’ nonsense of the modern explanation. Without the all-pervading ether, physics had to resort to crazy self-contradictory quantum quackery. Of course there’s a good reason for the abandonment. Quantum quackery places all power in the minds and instruments of credentialed physicists running massive grant-consuming facilities like CERN. If a phenomenon is observed by CERN, it exists, even if it doesn’t exist in nature.

Ohm’s original concept of resistance as heat transfer was also ethereal, and appears to be returning after a century of quantum qraziness. The recent trend toward panpsychism also runs toward the same destination.

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Happy ending:

Ultimately the ice industry found a much smaller niche where it still functions profitably. Motels and convenience stores still sell bagged ice in vending boxes.

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