Science: The Physicist's Fire

Few things in life are more attractive than an open hearth fire—or less efficient. It is messy, requires continual attention, and sends perhaps as much as 90% of its heat up the chimney with the smoke. Most homeowners learn to live with such flaws. Lawrence Cranberg, an Austin, Tex., physicist went back to basic physics to correct them. He has designed a fireplace grate that forces a fire not only to burn better but to send more of its heat out into the room.

Cranberg turned his attention toward hearth fires last winter; in an...

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