The ancient Romans noted that the brightest star in the night sky -- Sirius -- kept appearing annually at the onset of hot, sultry weather. Somehow Sirius -- which stems from the Greek word for "scorcher" -- became known as the Dog Star, and the weather it heralded was called "dog days." Believing that star caused the miserable weather, the ancient Romans sacrificed brown dogs to appease the rage of Sirius.

Today, we have an abundance of science to explain misnomers like "dog days." We now know that the "aphelion" is an annual inevitability. Every July 3rd, the earth's Northern hemisphere reaches its farthest point from the sun, approximately 94,510,000 miles. That point -- the aphelion -- ironically begins the hottest and stickiest days of the year.

And today, we also have better ways to beat the heat than sacrificing dogs. In particular, central air conditioning equipment has brought many benefits, becoming a necessity for modern lifestyles in many areas throughout the world. Air conditioning not only improves our personal comfort, but it is an absolute necessity for many medical treatments and drug storage, it expands the safety and choices of our food supply, and it helps improve our productivity by providing us with a better working environment.

The "dog days of summer" have now become "Air-Conditioning Appreciation Days" and a time to appreciate the products of this $40 billion dollar industry, according to ARI.