Friday, August 18, 2017
A Brilliant Idea from a Time Long Past
Ancient Arab cultures were known for great advances in science and mathematics. With the intervention of Alexander this led to the great library of Alexandria, actually two libraries. Julius Caesar is said to have accidentally destroyed the main library when he used fire to defend Alexandria against a maritime assault. The second was destroyed in the 4th century A.D. by the Christian emperor Theodosius. All that knowledge wiped out.
But not quite all. There is something that has survived, something that may become more vital than ever - the Windcatcher.
We know that many deserts are insufferably hot by day and unbearably cold at night. A Windcatcher uses the cool of night to cool the day inside a structure. Windows are only placed in walls that don't face the sun. Tall towers or chimneys are likewise constructed to use prevailing winds to draw hot air out of the structures beneath in a system that draws cooler air upward from cellars. It's a technology that goes back to 4000 years B.C.E.
The beauty is that it's all natural, after initial construction. It can work without electricity or fossil fuel energy. There's even something along the same lines in the subterranean village that once housed a Tatooine farmboy, Luke Skywalker.