CLOSE
Original image

Why Do They Call It Trinidad AND Tobago?

Original image

Christopher Columbus did a lot of naming in his day. As it turns out, he had a hand in naming four of the five island-nations with two names. Is that an obscure enough fact for you? Still, this is definitely the kind of fact that shows up on pub trivia night, and if you know it, you’re going to look like a genius.

Trinidad and Tobago

Ol’ Chris Columbus named the Trinidad portion of the island-nation duo Trinidad and Tobago after—what else can be expected from a Catholic explorer?—the Holy Trinity. Rumor has it people started calling the other, smaller island “Tobago” because of all the tobacco grown (and smoked) by the natives there. The neighboring islands have been linked since the late 1880s, when a British commission combined Tobago with Trinidad.

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda has a similar story. Columbus named the Antigua portion of the two-island country after a Cathedral in Spain, Santa Maria La Antigua, but the name Barbuda, which means “bearded” in Spanish (and Portuguese and almost Italian), was probably named later, in a nod to the island’s famous fig trees looking like they have long, scraggly beards. (Incidentally, the island nation of Barbados, not to be confused with Barbuda, was probably named after the “bearded” appearance of that island’s ficus trees.)

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Old Chris named Saint Kitts and Nevis, too, but kind of by accident. When he first landed on what became Saint Kitts, he actually called it San Martin, but since there were so many poorly drawn maps in those days, the name later got transferred to the island we now know as Saint Martin. Oops. How St. Kitts then got to be called St. Kitts is a bit of a mystery, but it’s probably a safe bet to say it was named after Saint Christopher (the patron saint of, among other things, traveling, bachelors and toothaches).

Nevis derives its name from the Catholic dedication, Nuestra Senora de las Nieves, which means “Our Lady of the Snows,” and was later shortened and anglicized into “Nevis.”

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

The naming of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was pretty straightforward: Columbus landed on St. Vincent on the Feast of Saint Vincent, and then named the other islands “the Grenadines” after the Spanish city, Granada. (So was the Caribbean island-nation, Grenada, but if that’s a question at your pub trivia night, someone’s not trying hard enough).

Sao Tome and Principe

The only island-nation that has two names that was not named by Christopher Columbus is—drumroll, please!—Sao Tome and Principe, which is off the coast of western Africa, and was named after Saint Thomas, of course, and the Portuguese prince to whom taxes were owed on the island’s abundant sugar fields.

This story originally appeared in 2011.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
How Does Autopilot Work on an Airplane?
Original image
iStock

How does autopilot work on an airplane?

Joe Shelton:

David Micklewhyte’s answer is a good one. There are essentially a few types of features that different autopilots have. Some autopilots only have some of these features, while the more powerful autopilots do it all.

  • Heading Hold: There’s a small indicator that the pilot can set on the desired heading and the airplane will fly that heading. This feature doesn’t take the need for wind correction to desired routing into account; that’s left to the pilot.
  • Heading and Navigation: In addition to holding a heading, this version will take an electronic navigation input (e.g. GPS or VOR) and will follow (fly) that navigation reference. It’s sort of like an automated car in that it follows the navigator’s input and the pilot monitors.
  • Altitude Hold: Again, in addition to the above, a desired altitude can be set and the aircraft will fly at that altitude. Some autopilots have the capability for the pilot to select a desired altitude and a climb or descent rate and the aircraft will automatically climb or descend to that altitude and then hold the altitude.
  • Instrument Approaches: Autopilots with this capability will fly preprogrammed instrument approaches to the point where the pilot either takes control and lands or has the autopilot execute a missed approach.

The autopilot is a powerful computer that takes input from either the pilot or a navigation device and essentially does what it is told to do. GPS navigators, for example, can have a full flight plan entered from departure to destination, and the autopilot will follow the navigator’s guidance.

These are the majority of the controls on the autopilot installed in my airplane:

HDG Knob = Heading knob (Used to set the desired heading)

AP = Autopilot (Pressing this turns the autopilot on)

FD = Flight Director (A form of navigational display that the pilot uses)

HDG = Heading (Tells the autopilot to fly the heading set by the Heading Knob)

NAV = Tells the autopilot to follow the input from the selected navigator

APR = Tells the autopilot to fly the chosen approach

ALT = Tells the autopilot to manage the altitude, controlled by the following:

VS = Vertical Speed (Tells the autopilot to climb or descend at the chosen rate)

Nose UP / Nose DN = Sets the climb/descent rate in feet per minute

FLC = Flight Level Change (An easy manual way to set the autopilot)

ALT Knob = Used to enter the desired altitude

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
Original image
iStock

While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios