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How much caffeine is too much caffeine?: a scientific study

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MAY 03, 2016

We at the Clog know what kind of hours students work during RRR week and finals week. Main Stacks unlocks its doors for two weeks straight, the Free Speech Movement Cafe keeps its espresso machine pumping into the wee hours of the morning and the student union has the AC on full blast 24/7. So we also know that a significant amount of caffeine is being consumed. We have to wonder, though — how much of that caffeine is really helpful?

We could have looked it up, but rather than rely on someone else’s work, we decided to turn toward the scientific method to answer our question. We set up a lab (it was just a room with an espresso machine) and picked a victim. This is the “lab report” of what happened.

One Clogger — henceforth known as “the subject,” one espresso machine, an unnecessary amount of material to study

The subject consumed one espresso shot every 45 minutes and reported on condition and ability to study. Units are measured in standard espresso shot format, 1 fl. oz.


One espresso shot:

The subject had one espresso shot. They report a reasonably high caffeine tolerance and are therefore still feeling sleepy. Subject is just sitting down to write a paper (Task No. 1) and to do some general review for several classes (Task No. 2).

Two espresso shots:

The subject reports that their productivity is “typical.” Subject is focusing fairly well and getting through a large amount of groundwork for Task No. 1. Subject reports no longer being sleepy. We envy them.

Three espresso shots:

Subject had a period of distraction shortly after consuming the third espresso shot. At that point, subject reports Pandora Radio being much more interesting than history. Task No. 1 is not moving as quickly as before, but subject has begun typing rapidly again.

Four espresso shots:

Subject appears to be focusing very well. They are typing at above average speed. Subject reports Task No. 1 “complete, for now,” which we believe indicates that they are getting sick of said paper. Subject is now rifling through notes from the semester very rapidly.

Five espresso shots:

Subject commented, “wooo I can’t focus,” when asked for a report. We believe this means that the caffeine is hitting them. Subject’s pupils are unusually large and they seem to be giggling at nothing. Task No. 2 remains largely untouched.

Six espresso shots:

Subject has calmed down from previous report and is being uncharacteristically quiet. We at the Clog fear what this may mean.

Seven espresso shots:

Subject is complaining about an upset stomach and is rapidly sipping water between espresso shots. They are still working, but it appears to be halfhearted.

Eight espresso shots:

Subject has given up on Task No. 2 and instead is singing along to Pandora Radio again. They are complaining of an eye twitch and upset stomach.

Nine espresso shots:

Subject has not stopped moving since espresso shot No. eight. We have learned that the subject knows an extraordinary amount of dance moves. The lab is also notably cleaner than when subject first entered because of a burst of rapid cleaning.

10 espresso shots:

Subject has turned on the Clog in a caffeine-fueled rage. Subject refuses to drink any more espresso shots. We at the Clog are no match for the subject’s rapid movements.

Contact Taylor Follett at [email protected].

MAY 03, 2016