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Aha Moment Maker: Battle of the Bubbly

by OIC Staff on December 28, 2013

Waiter with drinks, illustrating the accidental discovery of champagne, an opportunity for readers to have their own aha moment

CHAMPAGNE, 1668—A Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon arrived at the Abbey of Hautvillers near Épernay. His tenure as the cellar master for the abbey’s prized wines began with a challenging assignment.

It seems that unexpected cold snaps in the fall when the wine was bottled had temporarily halted the fermentation of the wine. When temperatures warmed in the spring, the vintage began to ferment for a second time, producing excess carbon dioxide and giving the liquid inside a fizzy quality.

Not only was fizzy wine considered poor winemaking, but bottles in the cellar kept exploding. Dom Pierre Pérignon’s assignment was to correct the situation.

Aha Moment Maker: Kernels of Curiosity

by OIC Staff on December 21, 2013

MicrowavePopcorn

LEXINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS, 1945—Shortly after the end of WWII, Percy Spencer was touring the labs at Raytheon, where he worked. During the war, the Allies had charged the company with mass producing magnetrons, the tubes that powered radar systems. Percy had been instrumental in solving critical efficiency and production issues, so when he spotted one of his achievements in the lab, he naturally stopped to admire it.

We don’t know whether he got a warm feeling inside while inspecting the magnetron, but we do know that he got a warm feeling inside his pocket, and soon discovered that a chocolate bar he had been saving there was melting.

Aha Moment Maker: Word Magic

by OIC Staff on December 14, 2013

Abracadabra

ANCIENT ROME—Today, “abracadabra” is a word we instantly recognize and associate with magicians and magic tricks. However, the history of this unique word is as much medical, as it is magical.

Abracadambra TriangleThe first recorded use of he word “abracadabra” was in a Latin medical poem by the Roman physician Quintus Serenus Sammonicus in the 2nd Century AD. His prescription for those with malaria or fever was to wear an amulet around their neck with “abracadabra” written in the form of a triangle. The contention was that this “formula” would funnel the sickness out of the body.

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