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Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Rosalie Dance, James Sandefur

Mathematics Topic:
Algebra, Elementary Functions
Application Areas:

| ©2005 Consortium 88 | 6 pages |

Around the world, people enjoy caffeine in both food and drink. Caffeine is an alkaloid compound that comes from plants, including coffee, tea, kola nuts, maté, cacao, and guarano. Some people drink caffeine drinks because they like the taste, and some drink them for the physical effect they can have. Most people are aware of differences in the way they feel as a result of drinking caffeine; it stimulates the central nervous system, the heart, and the respiratory system. For many people, the effect is pleasant and energizing, a “wake up” or a “pick-me-up,” and a way to delay fatigue. But for others, the effects are unpleasant. Laboratory tests indicate that one to three cups of coffee can increase a person’s capacity for sustained intellectual effort and decrease reaction time (that’s good) but may adversely affect the ability to perform tasks involving delicate muscular coordination and accurate timing (that’s bad).

In this article, we explore the dynamics of caffeine in the body through the use of exponential functions.