15th April 1710

Inventor of the fridge is born in Hamilton

William Cullen’s contribution to public health – and alleviating hunger – can’t be overstated. A chemist and medic, he was also First Physician to the King in Scotland, a teacher, and leader of his profession. Perhaps more importantly, though, he also invented – or at least discovered – the process of artificial refrigeration.

By the mid-1750s (some sources say the mid-1740s), Cullen was lecturing in chemistry at the University of Edinburgh when he used a pump to reduce the air pressure in a container of diethyl ether and, in doing so, effectively reduced its boiling temperature. This caused it to boil, spontaneously, in its surroundings and draw in heat, cooling the chamber in which it was contained.

Invention overlooked

Sadly, for Cullen, his discovery wasn’t put to any immediate use. For one thing, it would need to be scaled up and, for another, few people saw any need for artificial refrigeration when there were already companies in existence that would cut and transport natural ice from cold parts of the world to wherever it was required.
Cullen died in February 1790 and although the announcements and memorials in the newspapers of the time mention his lecturing and work as a physician, his greater contribution to humanity, refrigeration, is largely overlooked.



Other events that occured in April

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