Opposition politicians love nothing better than finding an apparent waste of government money on academic research so the shrimp on a treadmill experiments at the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Laboratory have been turned by Republican Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)  into something of an internet sensation. He used it as his prime example as, says National Public Radio, he “blasted the National Science Foundation, a major government funder of research, saying it squandered taxpayer money on questionable science projects.”

NPR gives the other side of the story and explains the purpose of the experiment was to measure how shrimp respond to changes in water quality. The researcher, biologist Lou Burnett, defending his work,  says the first treadmill was built by a colleague from scraps and was basically free, and the second was fancier and cost about $1,000. The senator’s report was misleading, says Burnett, “and it suggests that much money was spent on seeing how long a shrimp can run on a treadmill, which was totally out of context.”