Shrimp on a Treadmill

Posted: May 26, 2011 3:24 PM

A report released today by Tom Coburn's office identifies $3 billion in waste at the National Science Foundation. Projects include a review of ticket prices on, a laundry folding robot, and observations concerning shrimp running on a treadmill. I kid you not:

The Senate’s top watchdog on government waste, in a new report Thursday, said taxpayer money has gone to fund such programs as Jell-O wrestling at the South Pole, testing shrimp’s exercise ability on a treadmill and a laundry-folding robot, all funded by the National Science Foundation.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, said he identified more than $3 billion in mismanagement at NSF, ranging from questionable studies to exorbitant operating costs, and in some cases duplication by the science agency of operations performed by other agencies.

At a time when the federal government is struggling with record deficits and bumping up against its borrowing limit, Mr. Coburn said the agency is a prime example of the kinds of spending taxpayers should no longer tolerate.

“There is little, if any, obvious scientific benefit to some NSF projects, such as a YouTube rap video, a review of event ticket prices on, a ‘robot hoedown and rodeo,’ or a virtual recreation of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair,” Mr. Coburn said in a letter to taxpayers he wrote introducing the 73-page report, documented by more than 350 footnotes.

The NSF could perform an important service, with grants for science and defense research. But while they cut the budget for important projects, they squander money on jello wrestling contests.

Could somebody please tell me what the value of this is?