Soft Drinks

Summary

I occasionally suffer from advice on the consumption of diet cola drinks, warning me of negative health effects. This is intended to provide me with a summary of information to point others to when I get in these arguments. Most of this is quickly cribbed statements from reliable sources. I didn’t include source citations, but if you want to copy and paste a sentence into google, you’ll find a source.

<tldr>Almost everything bad you’ve heard about diet soda is from attention-seeking journalists. When they have scientific evidence, it is generally based on epidemiological studies which cannot measure other factors (i.e. fat people gain weight, fat people drink diet soda…doesn’t mean diet soda causes weight gain). The rest of the time, it’s mostly hand-waving about toxicity. Yes things are toxic. But remember, 3,000 mg/kg of table salt will kill 50% of the people you feed it to.</tldr>

Diet Coke

Carbonated Water

Carbonated water erodes tooth enamel, though the effect is negligible. Intake of carbonated beverages has not been associated with increased bone fracture risk in observational studies. A 2004 article in the Journal of Nutrition found that fizzy waters with higher sodium levels reduced cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular problems in postmenopausal women.

Caramel Color

Barring food alergy, no negative effects noted.

Aspartame

FDA has set its acceptable daily intake for aspartame at 50 mg/kg. For a 75 kg (165 lb) adult, it takes approximately 21 cans of diet soda daily to consume the 3,750 milligrams (0.132 oz) of aspartame that would surpass the FDA’s 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight ADI of aspartame from diet soda alone. Even with ingestion of very high doses of aspartame (over 200 mg/kg), no aspartame is found in the blood due to the rapid breakdown. Clinical studies have shown no signs of neurotoxic effects, and studies of metabolism suggest it is not possible to ingest enough aspartic acid and glutamate through food and drink to levels that would be expected to be toxic. Reviews have found no association between aspartame and cancer. Review of the biochemistry of aspartame has found no evidence that the doses consumed would plausibly lead to neurotoxic effects. Claims that aspartame contributes to weight gain and obesity are not supported by the medical literature. Although there have also been claims that aspartame contributes to hunger or increased appetite, there have been few studies directly addressing the effect of aspartame on appetite. The data show no increased appetite with aspartame use, and this is an area of possible future research. Studies looking at caloric intake found that aspartame consumers consumed as many calories as or fewer calories than non-aspartame consumers, but not more. (See also: http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/2009/AspartameAppetite.htm, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8451310/, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056571/, http://examine.com/faq/does-aspartame-increase-appetite.html). A double blind study subjected 55 overweight youth to 13 weeks of a 1,000 Kcal diet accompanied by daily capsules of aspartame or lactose placebo. Both groups lost weight, and the difference was not significant. Of the 4 studies from the meta-analysis that used beverages alone, the compensation was just 15% for the subsequent 24 hours; that is, the data suggest there is less compensation in beverages than foods, resulting in a more effective net reduction in calories when replacing sweetened beverages with Nonnutritive Sweeteners beverages.

Phosphoric Acid

The authors of this study conclude that the skeletal effects of carbonated beverage consumption are likely due primarily to milk displacement (another possible confounding factor may be an association between high soft drink consumption and sedentary lifestyle)

Potasium Benzoate

Potassium benzoate was recently described by the Food Commission, who campaign for ‘safer, healthier food in the UK’, as “mildly irritant to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes”.

Natural Flavors

Unknown, but likely a synthetic vanilla oil.

Citric Acid

Generally classified as healthful.

Caffeine

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine for well known positive and negative effects.

Diet Rite

Carbonated Water

See above.

Caramel Color

See above.

Phosphoric Acid

See above.

Sucralose

Results from over 100 animal and clinical studies in the FDA approval process unanimously indicated a lack of risk associated with sucralose intake.  In a small scale study of 17 obese test subjects, sucralose was found to affect glycemic and insulin responses to an oral glucose load in obese people who do not normally consume NNS.

Citric Acid

See above.

Potasium Benzoate

See above.

Acesulfame Potasium

At 10x ADI, injected Acesulfame K may produce insulin secretion analogous to a similar amount of injected glucose.

Natural Flavors

See above.

Acacia Gum

Used to change the surface tension of the water used in the soda. Makes it more fizzy. Mostly organically inert.

Potasium Citrate

Buffering agent. Reduces ph impact of other acids in the drink. Used in some health treatments. No studied negative side effects.

Copy your house key with a photo

Copy your house key with a photo

A while ago, my brother was locking something up and wanted to make sure that he didn’t lose the key. I had the bright idea of taking a photo of the key, since in the very worse case you could get a key blank and a hand file and carve out a copy of that key…and my photo archive is much better organized and backed up than my garage will ever be.

Now there’s a service online that will make you a copy of a key from a photo of it. No fuss. No muss. $5.

Electronics Project Fun

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I am always interested in the actual building of cool technology. There are so many cool applications of electronics that just aren’t mass-produced. We should be able to make them ourselves.

It’s amazing how much the internet has made this possible.

Groups of people band together to share a 155 inch panel of printed circuit board, each using several square inches for their own panel, and each only paying a fraction of the cost of getting a custom piece made for them. ($2.50/square inch!!) So, how can you get your board designed?

Well, you could use a pre-designed, open source circuit design. Or you can use free software like CadSoft Eagle. If you do use the free software, you’ll need some instructions on how to convert Eagle files to the Gerber format used by the manufacturing folks.

Now you’ve got a circuit board, but how do you attach components to it? Well, you can solder, but that takes, like, FOR-EV-ER. I just discovered you can use something called a Hot Air Rework Station.

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This is a hair-dryer-like device which uses a blast of hot air to liquefy the solder paste you’ve put on the pads of your circuit board, fixing the components to it. This makes it possible to solder on surface-mount components without too much pain. Beautiful! Maybe slower than wave-soldering, but definitely a great hobbyist option.

The amazing thing is that you don’t need expensive tools to do your manufacturing. With a little effort you can use a $30 hot plate as a soldering station.

The internet is a great place to learn more about making electronics!

Resources:

  • Hack a Day – daily project ideas and news.
  • Gold Phoenix – get a 155 inch panel made for $100.
  • SparkFun – project ideas and tutorials, as well as parts.