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No. 131: SEP-OCT 2000

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Funny Fluid Phenomena

We risk over-alliteration of titles in this issue but cannot resist.

Caffeine thoughts. A. Scholey, a psycho-pharmacologist, told a group of coffee-lovers that they were going to be given either caffeinated or uncaffeinated coffee. He lied! He actually gave half of each of two groups the opposite of what he had promised.

People who drank normal coffee but thought it was decaffeinated performed less well in tests, while those who thought they'd had caffein but had been given decaffeinated coffee speeded up in the tests. However, they made many more errors.

(Anonymous; "All in the Mind," New Scientist, p. 19, April 29, 2000.)

Drunk on nothing. In the past, cook-shacks in Maine logging camps stocked old-fashioned vanilla extract containing alcohol. However, loggers broke into the cookshacks and got drunk on the vanilla. A switch to alcohol-free extract was futile. The illiterate loggers could not read the new labels, drank the stuff, and still got drunk!

(Berger, Ivan; "Drunk on Nothing," New Scientist, p. 53, May 27, 2000.)

Straw power. H. Shiroyama asked the following question in the May 13, 2000, issue of New Scientist:

I have heard it said that if you drink beer through a straw you will become intoxicated more quickly. Many of my friends have heard it too. Is it an urban myth or true and, if so, why?

Thus challenged, the magazine editor conducted an informal test using ten easily found volunteers. Only half used straws; all had plenty of free beer. The five straw-users definitely performed worse on standard sobriety tests than the glass-lifters, even though both groups consumed the same amounts of beer. One New Scientist reader commented that one can get drunk still faster by consuming beer using a spoon instead of a straw.

In Russia, chimed in another reader, the effect of vodka is greatly amplified if imbibed with a thimble instead of a glass.(Shiroyama, Haitsu, et al; "Suck It and See," New Scientist, p. 40, May 13, 2000)

From Science Frontiers #131, SEP-OCT 2000. � 2000 William R. Corliss

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