Dog Poop Direction Grant

As was asked in the thread about dog pooping direction, who pays out for studies like this?

And if I came up with some subject that would really be a great study and not something relatively useless like dog poop direction or why flounders have eyes on one side, could I write it up and get a grant for it even if I don’t have a degree in whichever field and am not working for a university?

I know that the era of private people conducting research is pretty much dead but it would be interesting to be able to say one was a Mad Scientist conducting research in the field of <whatever> and offer to show them the laboratory out in the barn :stuck_out_tongue:

At the end of the paper, it says “The study was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (project. nr. 506/11/2121).”

If you google “Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (project. nr. 506/11/2121)” you get a lot of hits from papers studying animals and magnetic fields so apparently that’s what project. nr. 506/11/2121 deals with. Here’s info on The Grant Agency of the Czech Republic.

Sure. Granting agencies fund research in the private sector all the time. I doubt you’d convince anyone to give you money as a private individual, but if you formed your own company or non-profit organization and established a track record of useful work in research and/or development, preferably in cooperation with universities or other companies doing funded research, then you could most definitely submit a proposal that would attract serious consideration and might end up getting funded.

I’ve worked on government-funded research projects where the principal investigator (i.e., the entity which conceived the project and in whose name the proposal was submitted) was, as far as I know, a sole proprietorship or partnership with no employees other than the owner(s). The projects were large enough that the work was divided among several public institutions and private companies, each of which had signed onto the proposal, and was paid separately by the granting agency.

So if your little sole proprietorship has a great idea for a research project, go talk to your friends in industry and academia about how you’re going to divide up the work and then submit your proposal. Just keep in mind that you probably won’t get all the money at once… you’ll get a little bit at a time, and will need to submit reports, provide other evidence of work and useful results, and comply with a bunch of other bureaucratic requirements to keep the cash coming.

aruvqan writes:

> . . . relatively useless like dog poop direction . . .

How is this useless? Discovering that animals can sense magnetism is quite possibly useful. I have no idea whether this is a valid piece of research, but it would be rather important to know more about this. What living creatures can sense magnetism? Where in their anatomy is this done? What biological/chemical things are used in this sensing? How did this evolve, and what part does it play in the lives of living creatures who have this sense? I can easily imagine the answers to such questions turning out to have medical uses.

Similarly, who cared about the millennia of research into prime numbers until in the 1970’s it was discovered that they were the basis of encryption systems that are used everywhere today? Who cared about figuring out what the tiny amount of extraneous microwave radiation in radio telescopes meant until it was discovered that this showed that the Big Bang Theory was correct? Who cared about the pretty spectrum patterns that certain crystals made when light was passed through them until it was shown that we can use spectra to tell us about the composition of stars, the planets that rotate around those stars, and soon the moons rotating around those planets? Who cared about the funny changes in the frequency of sounds from objects passing by quickly until we discovered that we could use it to discover the speed at which the universe is expanding? Who cared about the structure of one more chemical in cells until it was discovered that DNA controls the development of all living creatures?

If you can tell us which research will be useful in the future and which will be useless, then congratulations, since you must be the smartest person in the world.

You probably didn’t intend it, but the way you’ve phrased this sentence makes it seem like only after the invention of the encryption systems was it discovered that they relied on prime number theory. To clarify, the designers of the encryption algorithms were very much aware of the past work in number theory and specifically exploited it. Prior to that, though, that research had lacked any significant practical applications.

Apart from this minor issue I very much endorse everything you’ve written. :slight_smile:

Yeah, but what about performing the largest search of prior messaging to search for time travelers from the future?

I mean, professors of physics have free time and can be silly like the rest of us, but someone is paying them–us–even in a non-directed grant, simply because they teach in a public school.

I’m not saying nonsense on a huge scale isn’t funded in other academic disciplines. Just that I’m wondering if that particular one–which debuted almost simultaneously with the cow one–was trolling in search of an igNobel.

psychonaut, I meant that there had been research on prime numbers for millennia. In the 1970’s, someone came up with the idea of public-key cryptography. Then someone came up with the notion that there known properties of prime numbers could be used:

Nah, it’s the same research group as the cow one.

If there is a cynical explanation, it’s that this group is using magneto-sensing in animals to grab as much grant money as possible before somebody catches on.

How much did it cost to do a search of Twitter? Think of how important it would be if a clear, difficult prediction came true. This probably cost less than Rhine’s experiments on extrasensory perception.

Or, just as plausibly, they’re padding their publication list (possibly to meet a quota specified by the terms of the grant) with low-overhead research which falls within the scope of the project. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as such research is a good way of training students in the scientific method and in academic writing. Perhaps the dog poop study was something dreamed up as a Bachelor thesis project by a professor or doctoral candidate. The student spends a few hours with a compass walking through parks and recording the alignment of all the dog poop, and writes up a report on it. The professor/doctoral researcher then helps them work it into a short conference paper, and slaps the acknowledgment to the professor’s funding agency on it, since it relates at least tangentially to the wider research project, and can be used as evidence that the project is producing published research.

Exactly. While it may seem kinda stupid to study which way dogs poop, the basic principle behind this (the discovery of magnetite in the ethmoid bones of many animals) is certainly worth exploring. It has furthered our understanding of how homing pigeons navigate, for example.

Humans have magnetite in their ethmoid bones as well. Do humans have a magnetic sense that w don’t know about? Not a lot of research has been done on it so it’s actually kinda hard to say for certain (although so far the answer seems to be probably not, or if we do then it’s so weak that it’s practically useless). What other animals have a functioning magnetic sense? We don’t really know, and the way you find out is you study animals and look for behaviors that rely on a functioning magnetic sense, like facing a particular direction when pooping.

The question of which animals have a functioning magnetic sense is not something that science can comprehensively answer at the moment. What’s wrong with studying it?