The National Science Foundation is being given too much money if it can afford to fund experiments that involve putting shrimp on treadmills or creating laundry-folding robots, grumbles Sen. Tom Coburn. The Oklahoma Republican has released a report criticizing the agency, which receives some $7 billion in federal funding a year, for wasting billions of dollars through mismanagement and by funding studies of questionable value, ABC News reports.
Scientists, however, say Coburn's report oversimplifies and misrepresents their research. The shrimp-on-a-treadmill study was part of an examination of how marine animals will cope with increased environmental stress, and the laundry-folding robot mocked in Coburn's report was part of a project to create robots that can interact with complex objects. "I sympathize with the desire to identify things that are silly and not useful," a researcher tells LiveScience. "But I'm not sure he's identified a really practical strategy to distinguish between the two." (Read more scientific research stories.)