Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Anatomy of a Refrigerator

  • By Richard Pommier Swanson
  • Posted 01.08.08
  • NOVA

The workings of your average refrigerator are actually quite simple. In essence, you only have to understand two general concepts—that by compressing or expanding a gas, you can raise or lower its temperature; and that heat only flows in one direction, from hot to cold. In fact, as this interactive reveals, your refrigerator provides a great everyday example of the science of cold.

Launch Interactive

You likely have one, but do you know how it works?

Richard Pommier Swanson is the former Science Content Director for PBS's DragonflyTV. He holds degrees in Education and the History of Science and Technology from the University of Minnesota.

Credits

Image

(refrigerator)
Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Gottscho-Schleisner Collection, LC-G613-T-59454

Related Links

  • Milestones in Cold Research

    From Galileo's thermoscope to a recent experiment that reached less than a billionth of a degree above absolute zero

  • The Conquest of Cold

    In the U.S., refrigeration played a key role in the rise of cities—and in the final subjugation of native cultures.

  • States of Matter

    In this interactive, adjust temperature and pressure, and watch gases become liquids, liquids become solids, and more.

  • Absolute Zero

    The story of the harnessing of cold and the race to reach the lowest temperature possible

Close

You need the Flash Player plug-in to view this content.