Friday, September 25, 2009

Pointless research: silly science hopefully coming to a stop…

By Tom Chivers

The government has unveiled plans to allocate research funding according to how much “impact” the research has.

The plans have come under fire from academics, who say that curiosity-driven, speculative research has led to some of the most important breakthroughs in scientific history, including penicillin, relativity theory and the theory of evolution.

More than that, though, it might bring an end to the quirky, sometimes daft, sometimes weirdly inspired research that brings harmless entertainment and occasional enlightenment to armchair buffoons and science nerds everywhere.

Below, take a look at some of the best.

Chinstrap penguins can squirt poo up to 40cm, winner, Fluid Dynamics, 2005
"Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh -- Calculations on Avian Defecation", Polar Biology, 2003

Rather sweetly, the researchers end their conclusions by saying: “Whether the bird deliberately chooses the direction into which it decides to expel its feces or whether this depends on the direction from which the wind blows at the time of evacuation are questions that need to be addressed on another expedition to Antarctica.” No doubt governments will be falling over themselves to fund that trip.

Click here to read more silly science projects from the Telegraph

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