miércoles, 20 de noviembre de 2013


Claudia Hammond

It’s an appealing idea that caffeine can cancel out the effects of too much alcohol. Sadly, studies reveal it is not that straightforward.

A few years ago I went to a play at my local theatre with some friends. My husband arrived late and a little jolly, having been to his office Christmas lunch and spent most of the afternoon drinking wine. Luckily it was a comedy, but he laughed so much that even the cast looked surprised at his enthusiasm.

During the interval I bought him a coffee to help sober him up before the second act. By the end of the play he was a bit quieter, but was I right to assume it was the coffee that had done the trick?

The sedative effects of large quantities of alcohol are well-established.
For the first hour-and-a-half or so, when blood-alcohol concentrations are high, people become more alert. From two hours after alcohol consumption to around six hours, objective measures of sleepiness increase .
Caffeine does the opposite, making people more alert, which has led to the appealing idea that a cup of coffee can cancel out the effects of a pint of beer.
Sadly it’s not that straightforward.

Historically, studies of the effect of caffeine on people’s driving abilities when drunk (in the lab, not on the roads) have had contradictory results. Some have found it reverses the slowing of reaction times caused by alcohol, others have found it doesn’t.

More recently, a study published in 2009 was designed to tease out in more detail the effects of combining alcohol and caffeine.
Mice were given alcohol followed by the human equivalent of eight cups of coffee. After the caffeine they seemed more alert, but they were still much worse than sober mice at getting round a maze.
So caffeine can counteract the tiredness induced by alcohol, which might explain why a cup of coffee is popular in many places at the end of a meal. But it can’t remove feelings of drunkenness or some of the cognitive deficits alcohol causes.
The reason is that we have to metabolise the alcohol we drink in order to diminish its effects.
The body processes it in several ways. Mostly it’s broken down in the liver by two enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase. After several steps the alcohol is eventually excreted as water and carbon dioxide.

It takes approximately an hour for the body to metabolise one unit of alcohol, although some people do it faster and some slower, depending on their genetic make-up, how much food they’ve eaten and how often they drink.
Caffeine doesn’t speed up the process. However its effects vary according to which function you’re looking at.

One study, for example, found a large dose of caffeine can counteract the negative effects of alcohol on memory, but that feelings of dizziness remain.

There are also suggestions that caffeine can make matters worse.
If you feel tired you are more likely to realise that you must be drunk, but if the caffeine takes away some of that fatigue you might believe you’re sober when you’re not.
This might explain the findings of a study of American college students from 2008. Those who chose drinks containing both alcohol and caffeine, such as vodka and Red Bull, were twice as likely to get hurt in an accident and more than twice as likely to accept a lift with a driver who was over the limit. This effect was independent of the amount of alcohol consumed. This is an early study on the topic in which the students choose their own drinks and reported themselves how much they’d drunk. But it does illustrate how caffeine could fool people into thinking they’re sobering up, and some of the potentially disastrous consequences.

miércoles, 6 de noviembre de 2013


Two new startups could help bring individual customization 
to the mass production of meals with 3D printed food.

6th November 2013 in Food & Beverage, Style & Design.

The 20th century ushered in the age of mass produced food, which — for better or worse — has fed the population with an endless array of new dishes and delicacies. The 21st century food industry may come to be about the individual customization with 3D printed food, however, if two new startups get their way.

Headed by Hod Lipson and Jeffrey Lipton, the Cornell Creative Machines Lab (CCML) is a part of Cornell University researching 3D printing. Having already worked with the International Culinary Center, its prototypes can create scallop nuggets in novelty shapes, cakes with messages printed inside, noodles and hamburger patties. The devices currently take liquid and paste foodstuffs such as melted chocolate, dough and pureed goods, which can be used much like the plastic in typical 3D printers.
Barcelona-based Natural Machines (above) is another startup moving the world of catering into 3D printed territory. According to the Wall Street Journal, the startup uses precise piping directed by digital designs to create pastas, breads and food decorations. It is already in the process of developing a printer for market, which it hopes to retail for EUR 1,000. Connected to the web, users will be able to download recipes and designs, as well as tweet their latest creations.

While regular readers of Springwise may remember Japan-based FabCafe‘s 3D-printed Valentine’s Day jelly sweets, both the research by CCML and Natural Machines could bring the production of digitally-designed meals out of science fiction and into reality. Could your business benefit from the convenience of 3D food printing?

Spotted by Murray Orange, written by Springwise

domingo, 29 de septiembre de 2013



Spain’s Bankia has launched mobile branches, with the aim of offering its financial services to those in rural locations.

Boston’s City Hall To Go scheme has seen the municipality’s administrative services placed on wheels to reach those in the suburbs, and now Spain’s Bankia hopes to do the same for its financial services, with the aim of helping out those in rural locations.

Due to the financial crisis several years ago, the bank was the subject of a EUR 19.2 billion bailout by the Spanish government and had to close many of its smaller branches, often located in the suburbs and countryside.
In order to ensure its customers in those regions can still access important financial services without having to travel to the next town, the bank has created traveling branches that go straight to the customer.

Visiting 17 towns in the Valencia region a few times a month, the buses are fitted with deposit and withdrawal facilities, as well as tellers to help deal with queries.

The Bankia buses are an example of a business that is willing to put in the hard work and go direct to the customer in order to maintain its userbase.

Are there other services that could be made mobile to reach a greater audience?

Website: www.bankia.es
Contact: www.bankia.com/en/contact

Spotted by: Murray Orange

miércoles, 18 de septiembre de 2013



If you have pets, you know they're expensive. I have pets myself, and the combination of food, grooming, vet bills, and what have you -- it's through the roof!
If you don't think you're spending a lot on your pets, sit down one month and really track everything you spend, from your regular dog food to the occasional treat or scratching post. You might find a surprise.

That said, owning pets doesn't have to be as ridiculously expensive as some people make it. Of course pets will cost you a certain amount of money -- you have to expect that. But with a bit of savvy, you can reduce the cost of your pets substantially.

Tips for low cost pet ownership
Follow these tips to save a lot of money on your pets.

1. Know when to splurge.
This sounds like a strange piece of advice to put on a list of tips about saving money. However, there are some things that you simply have to buy, and getting proper pet supplies in the first place can save costly pet treatments in the future.

Food is a major issue here. No, you don't have to buy from your vet for $20 a can. But you also shouldn't buy the cheapest stuff in the grocery store.
Find out the least expensive and healthiest brands of food, and shop accordingly.

The same goes for regular vet visits. Your pets need their vaccinations. And if you find a lump or oozing wound on your animal, a vet visit sooner rather than later will actually save your money.

2. Invest in pet insurance
You don't need ridiculously comprehensive pet insurance, but having some can help if you find yourself facing costly vet bills in the future.
Having pet insurance can mean the difference between saving a much beloved pet with a serious illness, or who's been in a serious accident, and saying goodbye.

3. Consider how many pet supplies you really need.
How many toys does your pet actually play with?
Are you buying that expensive blue sparkly thing because blue's your favorite color or because your pet will like it?
Half the time pets find their greatest amusement in things around the house: cardboard boxes, sticks, and yes, sometimes furniture.
You don't need new toys every time you shop for pet supplies.

4. Find a friend with pets.
If you have another friend, owning a pet becomes cheaper. Why? Because you can help each other out.
Split the cost on warehouse sized pet treats, take care of one another's pets when you go on vacation -- the list goes on and on.
A friend who loves animals is the best resource you can have.

Your pet shouldn't be the central focus of your budget. Use these tips to help you save a lot of money when it comes to your pets

viernes, 13 de septiembre de 2013



The Germany-based team behind the Kwiggle has created a device that is apparently more compact and lightweight than any bike on the market.

If the Moveo electric scooter can be folded down to the size of a portable suitcase, it stands to reason that the traditional push bike could be squeezed into an even smaller space.

Taking advantage of the existing market for foldable bikes, the Germany-based team behind the Kwiggle has pushed things even further by creating a device that is apparently more compact and lightweight than any bike on the market.

Those with experience of carrying portable bikes on their commute will know that, while they provide a satisfying ride, they still weigh a considerable amount and can be a pain to haul on and off public transport.
The Kwiggle has approached the concept with a new design that utilizes smaller eight-inch wheels and a unique half-seated, half-standing style of riding.

Described by the creators as a “pleasant mixture of biking and fitness walking”, riding the bike also ensures users maintain good back posture.
This unusual system and its patented gear system enable the bike to weigh just seven kilograms and fold down to the space of a typical backpack in under ten seconds.

Currently in the prototype stage, the company hopes to release the Kwiggle to the public by the end of the year, although pricing has not yet been announced.

Are there other vehicles that could be given a stripped-down, lightweight version?

Spotted by: Murray Orange

lunes, 9 de septiembre de 2013



Think of it as the miracle fluid for the frugal (it goes well beyond fries!)

As you sit there trying to reorganize your budget, you might be racking your brain for things you can cut back on or eliminate altogether.
That trip to France won’t pay for itself, after all. Have you thought about how you can use vinegar to get there quicker?
We don’t mean going door-to-door with bottles of it in an attempt to fundraise - that would take ages and likely annoy your neighbours. But there are at least ten things on your shopping list that you can amalgamate into one inexpensive and accessible purchase...good ol’ vinegar.
It tastes sour, but its uses are sweet.

1. Make inexpensive meat taste and feel like five-star fillets
Marinate tough, untenderized meat in vinegar for a more tender, tangier taste.

2. Take the salt factor down a notch
Did someone think it was funny to unscrew the saltshaker in your house? Instead of throwing out the dish and opting for a microwaveable pre-seasoned dinner, combine 1 spoonful of sugar and vinegar and mix it in to drown out the over-salted taste. Chef Ramsay would be proud. Just be aware that this mix only rids the salty taste, not the sodium content.

3. Forget over-the-counter anti-itch remedies - vinegar stops bites and stings from itching
Plus, if you bring it camping with you, you can use it on your foods, too. It’s a great way to pack light.

4. Use it as an antiseptic
You can use it on cuts and scrapes when you’re fresh out of expensive antiseptic medicine.

5. Whiten your teeth
Those teeth whitening products are certainly effective - and expensive. Brush your teeth 1-2 times a week with vinegar to clean your mouth and give your teeth a pearly look.

6. Keep your nails looking manicured
Soak a cotton ball in vinegar and wipe down your nails with it each day; it prevents wear from your day-to-day activities.

7. Get water and salt stains off your suede boots
Boot sprays are not inexpensive and don’t last very long. Luckily, vinegar holds both of those qualities and can be used to treat unsightly salt stains on suede.

8. Keep your clothes new by adding a quarter cup of vinegar to every load
Vinegar is really the save-all when it comes to laundry. It’s not harsh enough to destroy fabrics, but it balances out the harsh alkalines in soaps that will destroy your fabrics. It’s even effective in the dryer. It acts as a fabric softener and solution for preventing lint from clinging to your clothes.

9. Clean...everything
From chrome to plastic to glassware to porcelain, you can splash vinegar in every corner, nook and cranny in your house for a fresh-scented, grime-free home. If you’re selling your home, this can be a very cheap alternative to chemical cleaning products that pollute the air.

10. Get rid of rust
From silverware to nuts and bolts, vinegar will give your metals that fresh-out-of-the-shop gleam. 

Experiment with other uses
Since vinegar has been around longer than the English language, it’s not surprising that its uses range far and wide. 

These tips will help you cross off some of the items you’ve fit into your budget, but why stop there? 
Get creative and see how many things you can cross off of your vinegar bucket list. Our only suggestion: keep it away from baking soda. That could get messy rather quickly.