Monthly Archives: December 2013

Why is rum and Cola called Cuba Libre?


According to IBA (International Bartenders Association) the classic Cuba Libre must be built adding in a highball the following ingredients with the following doses:

  • 5cl of White Rum
  • 12cl Cola
  • 1cl Fresh lime juice

There are several hypothesis over the origin of the name of this incredibly famous cocktail.

At the moment the most accepted version of the facts is the following one.

downloadThe world’s second most popular drink was born in a collision between the United States and Spain. It happened during the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century when Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and Americans in large numbers arrived in Cuba. One afternoon, a group of off-duty soldiers from the U.S. Signal Corps were gathered in a bar in Old Havana. Fausto Rodriguez, a young messenger, later recalled that Captain Russell came in and ordered Bacardi (Gold) rum and Coca-Cola on ice with a wedge of lime. The captain drank the concoction with such pleasure that it sparked the interest of the soldiers around him. They had the bartender prepare a round of the captain’s drink for them. The Bacardi rum and Coke was an instant hit. As it does to this day, the drink united the crowd in a spirit of fun and good fellowship. When they ordered another round, one soldier suggested that they toast ¡Por Cuba Libre! in celebration of the newly freed Cuba. The captain raised his glass and sang out the battle cry that had inspired Cuba’s victorious soldiers in the War of Independence.

That’s it! Cool, isn’t it?


by Francesco Pochetti

Why do we get glued to ice when we touch it with tongue or fingers?


Ever wondered why when we pick up an ice cube between two fingers we tend to get glued to that? And what about the horrible sensation of feeling our tongue stuck on an ice lolly during the summer?

Well, this awful effect is essentially due to the moisture over our skin, which, getting in contact with a surface below zero degrees Celsius, instantly freezes. The result is that the two frozen regions melt together giving us the sensation of being glued to ice.

It is obvious that the effect is highly increased with the tongue which is naturally humid and so much more affected by instantaneous freezing!


by Francesco Pochetti

Why is Google called Google?

Why is the world’s most utilized search engine called Google?

All of you know Google, the web search engine utilized definitely by the majority of internet users. The site elaborates each year more than one thousand billion queries, involving a business of over 30 billions dollars, and representing only itself the 6% of the whole internet traffic.

But why this word Google? What does it mean in English? Nothing!


Contrary to what could be expected this two sillabes have not been created by the two search engine inventors Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two maths and computer science geniuses who met in 1995 at the University of Michigan; the 24-year-old Larry and the 23-year-old Sergey. They started working at their project in 1996 and installed the society in September 1998 in a garage on Santa Margarita Ave., Menlo Park, Calif . It had come the time to choose a name for the firm. During a brain storming, held to discuss the problem, the name of Edward Kasner popped out. He was a mathematician who studied very very big numbers. In 1938 he was trying to find a proper name for a huge number, 1 followed by 100 zeros; something enormous, much bigger than the total amount of particles in the universe, which is estimated to be around 1 followed by 80 zeros. How could he call such a big number? As he hadn’t the faintest idea of the word to choose Kasner decided to ask his little 8-year-old nephew Milton who suggested the childish word “gogol” (“googol” in English).

60 years later one of the students attending the brain storming held by Page and Brin, had just ended up the reading of an old book by Edward Kasner, titled “Mathematics and imagination”, and suggested to choose the name “googol”. The word could not be used as it was, due to royalties, and the spelling was slightly changed. From “googol” to Google! That’s it! Cool isn’t it?


by Francesco Pochetti

Why is the sky blue?

It is easy to see that the sky is blue.

Have you ever wondered why? A lot of other smart people have, too. And it took a long time to figure it out!

Let’s compose the puzzle starting from the atmosphere. The atmosphere is the mixture of gas molecules and other materials surrounding the earth. It is made mostly of the gases nitrogen (78%), and oxygen (21%). Argon gas and water (in the form of vapor, droplets and ice crystals) are the next most common things. There are also small amounts of other gases, plus many small solid particles, like dust, soot and ashes, pollen, and salt from the oceans.

It is with all this stuff that the light coming from the sun interacts before reaching the Earth’s surface. Well, let’s concentrate a little bit on light then!

Light is a kind of energy that radiates, or travels, in waves. Many different kinds of energy travel in waves. For example, sound is a wave of vibrating air. Light is a wave of vibrating electric and magnetic fields. nasa

The energy of the radiation depends on its wavelength (and frequency), which is the distance between the tops (crests) of the waves.  The longer the wavelength of the light the less energy it contains.

There are plenty of different “kinds of light” (infrared, visible, ultraviolet..), depending on wavelength, and all of them compose the so called electromagnetic spectrum. In particular visible light is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that our eyes can see. Light from the sun or a light bulb may look white, but it is actually a combination of many colors. We can see the different colors of the spectrum by splitting it with a prism.


Light travels through space in a straight line as long as nothing disturbs it. As it moves through the atmosphere, it continues to go straight until it bumps into a bit of dust or a gas molecule. Then what happens to the light depends on its wavelength and the size of the thing it hits.

Dust particles and water droplets are much larger than the wavelength of visible light. When it hits these large particles, it gets reflected, or bounced off, in different directions.

Gas molecules are smaller than the wavelength of visible light. If it bumps into them, it acts differently. When an electromagnetic wave hits a gas molecule, some of it may get absorbed. After a while, visiblethe molecule releases the light in a different direction. All of the colors can be absorbed. But the lowest wavelengths (blues) are absorbed and released more often than the lower ones (reds). We say that blue light is more scattered than red light.

 As light moves through the atmosphere, most of the longer wavelengths pass straight through. Little of the red, orange and yellow light is affected by the air.

However, much of the shorter wavelength waves is absorbed by the gas molecules. The absorbed blue light is then scattered in different directions. It gets scattered all around the sky. Whichever direction you look, some of this scattered blue light reaches you. Since you see the blue light from everywhere overhead, the sky looks blue!


by Francesco Pochetti