Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oh, those crazy Japanese

I just read one of the best blog posts ever. It's about a robot that washes people's hair. When I first read that title, I thought that it was a frivolous expense and worthless invention.


But after reading it I realized how blind that point of view is.

From Boing Boing:

"This hair-washing robot, introduced by Panasonic at a public demonstration in Tokyo last week, is actually a pretty practical idea. Washing your hair involves a decent amount of small motor coordination and finger dexterity, things that people often lose when they have a spinal injury or other kinds of nerve damage. A hair-washing robot could offer those people a bit more independence when it comes to their daily routines. That's a good thing.

But the real reason I'm posting this here is to show you how easy it is to take research that is objectively beneficial, and make it sound deeply silly and frivolous. All you have to do is show that picture (which is a little funny looking already, right?) and frame the story from the perspective of privilege—the perspective of people who have no problems controlling the nerves in their hands and forget that not everybody shares that skill."
It's pretty easy to frame any scientific experiment or research in a way that sounds ridiculous and a waste of money. But instead of trying to see how dumb any idea is, I think I'm going to try to see any possible uses from that experiment.

For example: scientists are wasting money trying to make kitties glow in the dark! Except the florescence gene (which isn't glow-in-the-dark, it just shows up under a UV light) is just a biomarker to help identify an immunity in cats against HIV.

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