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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Cup of Coffee

Ask Ms. Scientist: Sticky Skirts and Coffee Schedules

Dear Ms. Scientist,

Why does my skirt stick to my legs? —Abby T.

Blame the static cling phenomenon, which is created when dry, non conductive materials rub together and exchange charged particles. The charge exchange results in slightly positive and negative pockets along the material surfaces, which become attracted to each other. Throughout this dry, sub-zero winter, there is less moisture around to hold the particles together, promoting particle exchange. So, add some lotion to your legs, or if you are wearing tights, add a little water, and remember to dry your clothes at a low heat setting next time you do your laundry.

Dear Ms. Scientist,

I need to cram for my first week of midterms. How should I pace my coffee drinking to be most productive, but also not destroy my body with insane amounts of caffeine? —Jenna H.

Contrary to college student practice, coffee often does not fulfill the promise of bursting mental energy. Caffeine affects mental performance differently depending on the drinker’s tolerance. For “caffeine addicts”, coffee does not increase mental performance. However, forgetting to start the coffee maker on the morning of your exam can be detrimental due to withdrawal symptoms. For non drinkers, the anxious side effects that coffee drinkers have tolerance to, override the psychostimulatory benefits. Whether “addict” or not, eating snacks (not meals) can reduce drowsiness during late-night cramming. Drinking low-caffeine drinks like tea or chocolate milk can help too because they give a mental boost without jitteriness.

Ask Ms. Scientist is written by Corinne Thornton. If you have a burning science question you want her to answer, tweet @DC_Science or email it to

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