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Article

Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine

Posted on

Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Stephen Braun
genre:
Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Science and Technology

We gave it a B+

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a ”Coffee Cantata” espousing the joys of the bitter bean. Medieval Europeans considered booze the ”water of life.” In fact, after water, drinks containing caffeine or alcohol are the most popular on earth. Award-winning science writer Stephen Braun, in this zippy little tome, mixes concise explanations of how everybody’s favorite mind-altering substances work with a stimulating dash of related cultural tidbits (like the Tibetan method for measuring distances between towns — by the amount of tea needed for sustenance). Alcohol proves a very strange brew indeed, no mere depressant but a ”pharmacological hand grenade” that mimics the effects of cocaine, opium, Valium, and Prozac. Caffeine, on the other hand, has been shown to increase some athletic performance. And Braun credits it as an ”invaluable tool” for writing this book. B+