Friday, February 19, 2010

Coffee Free Zone*

Driving my kids to school, my daughter proceeded to tell me about the water cycle as discussed on a "How Stuff Works" video. The theory is that because there are so many trillions of water molecules in a cup of coffee, that some of the molecules from President Abraham Lincoln's coffee on the day he was sworn in, could have followed the water cycle all around the world, through the sewers, the treatment plants, into the oceans and streams, across continents, back into clouds to rain into the local reservoir and thus return through the sinks of the nearby Starbucks into a cup for you.

Sounds tasty doesn't it?

While mathematically, it is statistically possible that old Abe's cup of Joe became a current overpriced cup of java; I've taken statistics and know that what can be illustrated cannot necessarily be proven. There are lies, damn lies and statistics as Twain once said.

For instance, remember Reach Mouth Wash? When it first came out, they touted the fact that they reduced plaque by 300% and they did, when compared to doing nothing. But when compared to gargling with water or brushing one's teeth, they did only 10% against the former. Reach sales plummeted when the scam of statistics was exposed. Having learned the statistical possibility of Lincoln's ahem, "coffee in its distilled by the body form" might be in my water, I predict a Reach mouth wash comeback at least in this household.

But my daughter insisted the water cycle proved it. Feeling really glad I stuck to diet coke at the moment, I pointed out that in some cases, like wines, water is taken out of the cycle for decades. I privately wondered if I should switch to that vice at that moment, it sounded more palatable. There is some knowledge that just isn't very useful for everyday life; or at the very least, for enjoying living. "We don't KNOW know." I countered.

"But the math proves that there's a 100% chance of water molecules from the coffee having come from President Lincoln's the day he took office!" 

I pointed out that it isn't like one can Marlin Perkins style tag individual water molecules and release them back into the wild as it were. I also pointed out that water can get stuck, frozen on the mountains of Tibet, absorbed into a deep river inside the Earth, mingling in the ocean deep off South America, bottled in Fiji and sent here to sit on a 7-11 store shelf. Some of the water might have been absorbed by the woman who drank it, who then had a baby who took in those water molecules as part of his development and be walking around now with Honest Abe's water vapors as part of his DNA!For that matter, the rogue H20 could be absorbed by a jelly fish or drunk by a pig or mixed with other chemicals to make shampoo or concentrated orange juice or toothpaste.

Besides, we don't know if the President went to the facilities on Inauguration day after drinking coffee, so it might be a day younger. The very discussion itself was enough to put me off drinking water period.

She asked who Marlin Perkins was.

"Let me put it this way," I answered. "If your theory is correct, you probably brushed your teeth with him."

* Video of "How Stuff Works" on water cycle is linked in the title if you want to watch. 

1 comment:

MightyMom said...


I"m just not sure what to say to THAT!

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!