The National Science Foundation is taking a harsh look at the silly side of science. Putting into question experiments that seem out of the norm, or are using major research dollars, a recent report is asking "Are these projects the best possible use of our tax dollars, particularly in our current fiscal crisis?"
Some of the research projects included in the report and under fire are a $1.5 million dollar grant that created a robot that can do chores, like folding towels at the University of California at Berkeley and a study at Duke University that was granted $79,998 by the National Science Foundation that looked to find the answer to why the March Madness basketball brackets are dominated by the same teams repeatedly.
Though these studies seem silly at first glance, there is purpose to the madness that may put the scrutiny to rest, such as the laundry folding robot. This study was actually put into place to “see what it would take for robots to handle relatively unstructured tasks ranging from cooking to surgery,” according to researchers.
The NSF’s report has prompted further funding to be looked at a little more carefully in the future.