Wednesday, May 22, 2024

What Happens When Student Scientists’ Experiment With Coffee Goes Very Wrong

How much caffeine could kill you? Two students in the UK nearly found out, when an experiment went very, very wrong.

Sports science students at Northumbria University took their school to court over the major coffee mishap. During an experiment on the effects of caffeine, two male students were given 30 grams of caffeine instead of 0.3 grams. That’s around 300 cups of coffee, more than even the most dedicated caffeine addict can put away in a day.

Related: Why Nobody Will Ever Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

The students were admitted to the hospital after experiencing “violent side-effects.” For an idea of what they most likely experienced, side effects for caffeine overdose include extreme dehydration, heart palpitations and delirium.

Study International reports:

A shot of espresso averages around 65mg of caffeine. During the sports science study in March 2015, the two students were given 30g, nearly 460 times the amount of caffeine in an espresso shot.

The budding mad scientists tapped out their calculations on a cellphone calculator, resulting in a misplaced decimal point, prosecutor Adam Farrer told the court, according to the BBC:

“The staff were not experienced or competent enough and they had never done it on their own before. The university took no steps to make sure the staff knew how to do it.”

Both students survived, although one of them reported short-term memory loss.

Related: Combining Coffee And Marijuana Will Make You Love Mornings Again

The university had recently switched from using caffeine tablets to powder for experiments, which, as Dr. Patricia Broderick notes on Vice, is far more dangerous in high doses than drinking brewed coffee. Snorting or swallowing a pure substance, including caffeine, gets it to the bloodstream before the body has a chance to process it.

Curious where your limits lie for the world’s favorite way to get a jolt? This personalizable calculator shows that a 160 pound adult’s sweet caffeine spot is around three cups a day, and 67 cups would be lethal.



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