Recently the National Science Foundation was scolded in a report by Sen. Tom Coburn for, among other things, spending $500,000 to put shrimp on treadmills. Today the NSF responded with a press conference. Below is a transcript.
Okay, let’s get started. My name is, Bill Loney, I’m the directory of research here at the National Science Foundation. As you’ve heard, the NSF recently spent $500,000 on treadmills for shrimp. Now I know several of you have been asking “How could a treadmill costs that much?”. Well, you see, the answer is that the treadmills themselves really didn’t cost that much…only a few thousand dollars or so. The bulk of the cost went into developing a machine that we called “The Mini Maker”. This is a device capable of shrinking any inanimate object to a much smaller size. We then used the Mini Maker to shrink the treadmills so the shrimp could ride on them.
Reporter: How much did it cost to build this shrinking machine?
Let me see, I’ve got the paper with the numbers here somewhere…here it is…$259,294 and twenty three cents.
Reporter: What happened to the rest of the money?
It was spent on destroying the shrinking machine.
Reporter: You spent all that taxpayer money on a revolutionary scientific breakthrough — and then destroyed it?!?!
Yes, the EPA declared that it was bad for the environment — too many harmful emissions.
In hindsight, we probably could have saved some money by going with cheaper treadmills, but the grant money was already there, so we went for the deluxe models.
Reporter: Did you get any useful scientific data from this?
Yes. We learned that shrimp that haven’t been on a treadmill taste better than shrimp that have.