Shrimp On Treadmills Should Be Only The Beginning

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Twalbert, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Twalbert
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    Twalbert Member

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    A lot of fuss has been made of late about the fact that government-funded research conducted at the College of Charleston in South Carolina by biologist Lou Burnett involved putting shrimp on tiny treadmills.

    Since that revelation was made public, the expression “shrimp on a treadmill” has become synonymous with what some would perceive as a giant waste of taxpayers money. Of course, the truth is not quite so black and white.

    Critics point to a half million dollar grant that went Burnett's way. In fact, the treadmill was built from scraps and was practically free. The shrimp, well, these are regular shrimp. They do not cost much. Restaurants like Applebees practically give away “endless shrimp”.

    Though people are talking about shrimp on a treadmill in condescending tones, not least Mike Huckabee, who said “I don't want my shrimp going to the gym,” the study is actually looking at the health of marine animals in the changing climate. It is a serious issue, actually worth looking at. After all, nobody knows how to read the pulse or blood pressure of shrimp.

    Is that a waste of government money - to look at the effects of climate change on marine animals? There are far, far more frivolous uses of taxpayer's funds. The images and cheap gags might be mildly amusing, but the truth is that valuable research is being done.

    Having said all that, shrimp DO look funny on a treadmill, and so there is just cause to use government grants to put more animals on gym equipment with accompanying silly music. We say, put a penguin on a stationary bike. A polar bear in a sauna. A giraffe in a hot tub. How much can a silverback gorilla bench-press?

    Enquiring minds want to know.


    Source: Benzinga
     
  2. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    I remember a golden fleece award making fun of scientists sticking thermometers up the butts of sled dogs. Only after considerable silly nonsense was batted about did an army officer state that the study was trying to find out how the dogs systems adapted rapidly to the effects of cold, in hopes of being able to find a way for our soldiers that would be thrust into the arctic in case of war to adapt to the sudden change of climate.

    Often, to the untrained eye, what scientists do seems trivial and useless. Yet such data often leads to information vital to our understanding of nature and ourselves. Anything that has to do with the metabolsim of plants or animals that are involved in our food supply is vital information.
     
  3. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Twalbert:

    I prefer shrimp on the Bar-B to shrimp on a treadmill. BUt on my personal scale of outrage, it's not very high. HIGH outrage is reserved for sheer subsidies of products that already exist -- like wind turbines, ethanol and heat pumps and insulation. Take THAT nice chunk of change AWAY from corporate America and dangle a few R&D carrots out there --- and we'd get off the treadmill and start making progress..

    That said -- this particular instance deserves SOME ridicule because it illustrates how unfocused and pervasive govt money gets spread around..
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
  4. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    But none at all for coal and oil corperations already making billions quarterly?
     
  5. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    It's harder to disentangle oil and gas companies from govt handouts since they rely on leases and permits.. Because Uncle Sam owns something like 40% of the land west of Mississippi and everything offshore..

    So a lot of those subsidies go to exploration and discovery on govt lands BEFORE leases are negotiated. It's nothing more than requiring due diligience on a real estate sale (termite inspections, appraisals, and all that jazz).

    But yeah -- If it doesn't go to finding and discovering NEW capacity -- junk it. I'm consistent on the terms..
     
  6. konradv
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    konradv Gold Member

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    I recall a bruhaha about studying the eyesight of pigeons and how that was ridiculed. Why pigeons? Because your average human wouldn't want their eyes dissected out!!! It's not always about the species in question, but about how sight or (fill in the blank) works with an endgame of trying to get a better handle on how the processes in question work in humans. The ridicule is usually a cheap shot, designed to fool the scientifically unsophisticated.
     

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