Opinion

The National Security Applications Of Coffee Cup Lids And What Makes Goldfishes Sexy

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released a recent report that outlines some of the most wasteful spending allowed by the federal government. Let’s just say that upwards of $35 million was calculated by Senator Flake’s office exemplifying 20 projects funded by agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (to name a few).

Additionally, the projects may raise questions over the efficacy of what is scientifically vital to the missions of the United States federal government. What this ultimately comes down to is the question of how much taxpayers are willing put up with while watching the government spend million and millions on complete and utter pointlessness.

Spilt coffee, a national security approach

Notably, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) provided over $170,000 dollars to research why walking with coffee causes it to spill. The project was funded in full from a DARPA research grant bestowed unto the University of California, Santa Barbara. Researchers coined the study as a project that allowed for studying the dynamics of liquid sloshing.

Rouslan Krechetnikov, the primary researcher behind the sloshing affairs, received a lot of critical acclaim from the scientific community for his findings. Through such findings, the researchers explain “in the walking with coffee problem the motions of the human body, while seemingly regular, are quite complex and are coupled to a coffee cup and liquid therein, which makes it difficult to unravel the precise reasons behind coffee spilling.”

Essentially, the solution to the problem, the researchers concluded, is to put a lid on the coffee cup or fill your cup with less coffee.

It is still unclear why DARPA would fund a project like this; however, the agency sees some kind of importance to, “defend American citizens against the threat of spilling hot coffee on themselves.” It’s a mind-boggler but we also need to consider that DARPA is under the clout of the Defense Department, the cabinet agency that authorized the creation of the world’s most expensive gas station.

Does your goldfish feel sexy?

A total of $3.9 million was granted to Bowdoin College researchers to uncover what promotes mating amongst goldfish species. Literally, the fundingwas provided to understand what makes a goldfish feel sexy. In other words, the researchers “demonstrated that goldfish can make sexual discriminations using only visual cues, although males and females do not obviously differ in appearance to the human eye.”

The study was characterized as “The Good the Bad and the Sexy: How Brain Chemistry Affects Social Judgments,” in the goldfish. Further, the researchers injected male goldfish with steroids and observed that the little swimmers swam closer to female fish with the intention to do the “fishy maritals.”

Black and white cameras caught the “social” interactions, as well. Provided, the researchers probably weren’t intending on producing for the next season of “Big Brother.” The end conclusion, according to the researchers is, “When infused with steroids, the male goldfish spent more time swimming close to the female. He spent less time by the female when no steroids were administered.”

Clearly, there is no reason be taken aback… it’s merely a study on fishes having sex; however, what can be taken away from this study, and the in depth analysis of the liquid sloshing of my caramel macchiato, is a perplexing narrative that attests to the fact that the federal government will finance anything.

The report mentions other questionable studies, as well. One study examined the pain reaction to bees stinging a man’s penis with one other study touching upon how being liberal is genetic.

My point is clear, though: is this worth it? Does the federal government reserve the right to waste our tax dollars on science fair projects and to circumvent our goals for smaller, accountable, and transparent government? No, they don’t. That needs to be made clear.

McGrady is an independent freelance journalist whose reporting and analysis has been cited and/or featured by several national publications. Follow him on Twitter (@mikemcgrady2).