Ask Dr. Science (10/11/99)

We at AtAT have received more than a few letters from concerned viewers who are skeptical of the new iMac's lack of a cooling fan. Captain Steve's dislike for fans is well-known, and it's entirely possible that it amounts to nothing more than a perfectly rational belief that computers should be as quiet as possible. Of course, we imagine it's also entirely possible that it springs from some nightmarish fan-related childhood trauma that left deep emotional scars that will never heal. The point is this; the original Macintosh had no fan, and many viewers pointed out that model's high burnout rate while expressing concern that the new iMac may suffer the same fate-- especially after early reports that the iMac gets really warm after running for a few hours.

We're not industrial designers, but we've seen one on TV, so our gut reaction was to relax and have faith that Apple's superb engineering team was up to the task. We figured they were able to vent the new iMac adequately enough to keep the system running cool just by punching a few more air holes in the case. Still, the spectre of the original Macintosh and its high failure rate loomed ominously, and we started to have our doubts-- especially after hearing that the heat pouring out of the top of a new iMac was not unlike the blast from a hot-air popcorn popper. Sure, electronics have improved, and the G3 runs much cooler than before, but we imagine that an iMac logic board would still have trouble functioning properly when running in a toaster oven.

But fear not-- apparently Apple's engineers and designers have addressed the issue by harnessing the power of something called Science™! Remember back in grade school when you learned that hot air rises? It seems that Apple is actually using this fun fact to keep the iMac's motherboard nice and cool. The heat from the monitor causes air to rise up and out of the vent holes in the top of the iMac's case, thus causing cooler air to flow into the bottom of the unit, keeping the logic board breezy and comfortable. Read all about it over at MacInTouch's special report, which includes confirmation that the bottom of a new iMac feels a lot cooler than the top. So you should never again doubt Apple's engineers, because They Know More Than You Do. (We'll know for sure once the new iMacs have been out for a while; let's see if they sizzle to a blackened crisp.)

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The above scene was taken from the 10/11/99 episode:

October 11, 1999: If you're concerned about the intense heat pouring out of your new fanless iMac, you can relax-- a little. Meanwhile, the latest brouhaha in the turbulent world of Apple games development reaches a (semi-)happy conclusion, and Gateway recalls a million foam rubber cows due to concerns over choking...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1837: Phasers On "Ignore" (10/11/99)   So have you been following the latest saga in the churning world of Mac gaming? As you know, Apple recently pulled a 180° on its official policy regarding games development for the Mac. Until a couple of years ago, the pre-Jobsian Apple actively discouraged the development of games for the Mac platform, fearing that the availability of games would only reinforce the view that the Mac was "just a toy."...

  • 1838: Mmmm, Foam Rubber! (10/11/99)   Child-loving bovines the world over sounded a collective "Moo!" of approval earlier when Gateway ordered a recall of approximately a million foam rubber cows. Apparently the PC manufacturer best known for its innovation in the realm of spotted cardboard boxes gave away these 5-inch squishy cows as promotional gimmicks, but complaints started rolling in that strong-willed (and strong-handed) children were able to tear the cows into yummy bite-size morsels which constituted a choking hazard...

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