While the $787 billion stimulus bill has not been without controversy, it has also achieved a rare accomplishment: creating something on which most scientists agree. The new bill will distribute a lot of money, so much so that many of the recipients in the science community are overjoyed—even if they aren’t necessarily prepared to handle it.
The extent to which some offices will be overwhelmed is exemplified by this reporting in The New York Times:
Utah expects that its state energy office will receive $40 million for energy efficiency, renewable energy and related programs—123 times the size of the office’s current budget, said Jason Berry, who manages the four-person unit. He is about to go on a hiring spree.
Equally thrilled with their soon-to-be windfalls, scientists have made some prize comments in the media this week about their good fortunes. Here are a few of our favorites:
“It’s like they finally got to the other side of the desert and it’s pouring rain,” Seth Kaplan, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation. (The New York Times)
“We’re kind of like the dog that caught the car…[though] if we don’t [distribute the money] well, the technical term is: we are toast,” Ernest Moniz, a M.I.T. physicist who served as undersecretary of energy for President Bill Clinton. (Nature News)
Need to orchestrate a media stunt to gather attention for your cause? Here’s what others have tried:
1. Glue yourself to the prime minister. On the positive side, it’s sure to get plenty of press coverage, like 24-year-old Dan Glass garnered today after slathering his left hand in adhesive and trying to glue himself to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. (Glass was protesting a potential expansion of Heathrow Airport.) On the negative side, even Super Glue takes a moment to dry, and Brown was able to wrest himself free of Glass’s gooey grip. Glass later tried to glue himself to the gates of 10 Downing Street, and that didn’t work, either.
2. Try to bring sex dolls into the Philippines. Speaking of failure, this is a surefire recipe. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tried it in December; their intention was to protest Kentucky Fried Chicken by putting the dolls under a banner reading “KFC Blows.” Only one thing stood in their way: Filipino customs officials confiscated their dolls.
4. Dress down. Upset at the number of trees felled to make Victoria’s Secret catalogs, ForestEthics protesters showed up at the company’s cross-country tour in 2004 wearing angel wings, lingerie, and wielding chainsaws.
5. Don’t bother dressing at all. Hundreds of nude cyclists rolled around the U.K. and mainland Europe last summer to promote biking as an eco-friendly form of transportation. Presumably they had no trouble staying cool, but what about the chafing?
Maybe they should call it “soggy old England.”
Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry published a survey this week finding that U.K. residents used more water, and cared less about their water waste and pollution, than their Western European counterparts. Only 48 percent of British survey subjects said they showered for less than five minutes, as opposed to 59 percent for both the French and Spanish.
As always, it’s hard to know how accurately the survey statistics reflect real life. The French and Spanish appear to be the most water-conscious Western Europeans, but knowing that you’re wasting water isn’t the same as stopping your waste.
Seabirds called little terns nest near Tokyo’s airport after migrating north from Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. But National Geographic reports that are area’s crows are bad neighbors, prone to attacking and killing young terns.