BP has released the first slug of oil-spill hush money to LSU: $2 million for research on the Effects of the Oil Spill and it's Cleanup. Sounds like a lot of research money, until you realize that LSU does about $200 million dollars of research a year. So, it's kind of like if your next door neighbor (the one who knocked down his house and opened a strip mine) came over to your house and crapped in your refrigerator on $200 worth of groceries you just bought, then gave you two dollars so you could look into what effect his actions had on your food (and so you would feel good about him again). But, such lovely images notwithstanding, proposals for research with BP's money will soon start oozing in. There are, of course, quite a number of highly legitimate research activities that absolutely must be conducted in conjunction with the spill in order to help guide the cleanup and provide future safety.
Besides providing lots of hush money (well, "lots" is a relative concept), BP will, of course, continue providing full access to all areas around the spill, and continue providing its highly accurate data to scientists and the public. In addition, in order to help catalyze new investigations, BP has provided examples of suitable studies that they would like to see performed:
Title: Soul Detection in BP Executives
Abstract: BP Executives at all company levels will be weighed three times daily using a highly accurate vibrational microbalance. When BP executives die, thrice-daily weighing will continue for one week after death. Weight charts will be compared with similar experiments carried out on random members of the general public who are not involved in the oil industry. Via careful statistical modeling and advanced ANOVA, this project aims to determine the weight of the soul as it leaves the human body, and to demonstrate that BP executives actually have souls like most normal humans do.
Title: Edibility of Burnt Sea Turtles.
Abstract: This study aims to determine if sea turtles that have been cooked alive in controlled oil burn-offs are edible. A standard evaluation panel for taste, texture, nutrition, and post-ingestion monitoring for food poisoning will be used. One hundred hungry volunteers will be divided into 2 groups. One group will receive normally cooked sea turtle meat, while the other will receive sea turtle meat from turtles that have been burnt alive during controlled oil burn-offs in the Gulf of Mexico. Neither servers nor diners will be informed of which type of turtle meat they are getting. Post-dinner questionnaires will be used to determine the edibility profile of the two turtle preparation methods. A 24-hour follow-up will be included to monitor for potential food poisoning issues.
Title: Epistemology of Oil Effects on the Environment.
Abstract: The Popperian Construct of Empirical Falsification holds that hypotheses can only be falsified, never proven. In this study, data will be collected on the scourging of wetlands and marshes, the burning of sea mammals alive, and the horrifically slow and torturous death of birds and other cuddly gulf critters. It will be shown that statistically and logically it cannot be proven that millions and millions of gallons of toxic oil could be responsible for such mass destruction. This study will utilize and improve upon techniques developed in earlier work demonstrating that fatal automobile crashes cannot be causally linked to automobile occupant deaths. It is expected that the statistical algorithms and new modeling methods developed in this study will have wide applicability in other segments of society, such as the fast food industry, handgun enthusiasts, and heroin distribution collectives.
Remember, these are only BP's examples of highly relevant areas of research they would be willing to support. Researchers should in no way feel constrained by these suggestions.
Your cynicism shocks me.
The money will go to a good cause - surely LSU must have a football team.