Magic or science?

If you try, and you don’t even have to try that hard, you can actually learn something online. It’s not just animal videos, Facebook and porn.

For instance, my obsession with useless factoids led me to follow the OMGFacts Twitter account (@OMGFacts), where I read that a can of diet soda floats, whereas a can of regular soda sinks.

Magic? Coincidence? Nope. Turns out it’s just science.

I did the experiment in my kitchen sink and I can confirm that it is 100% true. The silver can of Diet Pepsi floated next to sunken can of Regular Pepsi.

Apparently, it has all to do with density.

Regular soda cans have about 39g of sugar, whereas diet soda is sweetened artificially with sweeteners like aspartame, and need less of it to get to the recipe’s sweetness, so there is more water in Diet Pepsi than in regular. In fact, only 0.35g of aspartame is in diet soda, versus the 39g of sugar that are in regular soda.

There’s a mathematical explanation, too, which I found on

“Both the Diet Coke and Coke cans contain 12 fluid oz., or 355 milliliters, of liquid. Both beverages consist primarily of water. The primary difference lies in the sweetener. HFCS exhibits a density of about 1.3 g/mL. The 39 g of “sugars” in Coke therefore accounts for (39 / 1.3) = 30 mL of HFCS. Coke therefore contains about 325 mL of water, with a density of 1.0 g/mL, and 39 g of sugar. The contents of the can therefore weigh 325 g + 39 g = 364 g. The can of Diet Coke, however, contains only 0.3 g of aspartame. It therefore consists almost entirely of water and the can’s contents therefore weigh about 355 g. This difference in weight makes the can of Diet Coke sufficiently buoyant to float. In terms of density, the density of Diet Coke is roughly 1.00 g/mL, the same as water. The Coke, however, exhibits a density of (364 g / 355 mL) = 1.03 g/mL.”

Somehow I think if I paid any attention during my high school science courses, the explanation would have made complete sense to me on the first read, and I wouldn’t have had to stop every four words to make sure I was still following. But I get it now. It’s density.


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