On Caffeine

Spider webs with and without the spide on caffeine (photo from Wikipedia)

7 October 2013

This blog is made possible by caffeine…  administered every morning in a 16 oz mug of coffee at 5:00am.  Boing!  I’m awake!   It works.  And it makes me happy.

Apparently it is not good for everyone.

According to Wikipedia, Swiss pharmacologist Peter Witt began testing different drugs on European garden spiders in 1948 because a zoologist friend of his, H. M. Peters, was annoyed that the spiders always wove their webs between 2:00am and 5:00am.  Dr. Peters wanted to study web building when he was awake, not when the spiders were.

Naturally it made sense to try caffeine.  Perhaps it would keep the spiders awake longer so that they’d “sleep in” and start weaving after dawn.

Not so!  Instead of time-shifting their web construction, caffeine made the spiders build whacky dysfunctional webs.

In 1995 NASA conducted a similar study and took photographs of the spider webs both before and after caffeine (above).

So much for Dr. Peters’ brilliant idea.  He was forced to study his subjects in the dark.  I’m sure he had to be on caffeine to do it.

(photo from Wikipedia. Click on the image to see the original)

5 thoughts on “On Caffeine

  1. Kate, I know how you feel. Hurray for caffeine! Poor spiders, I wonder how long before they returned to “normal”? Keep up the good work. I enjoy your blog every day!

  2. This is almost an exact copy of my 1969 high school science project. I did “The affect of alcohol on spiders” and the results were very similar. I got third place in the state finals.. Now I’m thinking, if NASA thought it was a good experiment, I should have gotten at least a second place!! I was on the cutting edge and didn’t know it. However, I bet their study cost a lot more than mine.

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