Why Sarah Palin Should Be Thankful For Fruit Flies

The consensus of many Republicans about basic science research is that it is more evidence for “government waste.” In 2010, YouCut Citizen Review, a crowdsourcing tool for identifying unnecessary government spending, put the National Science Foundation at the top of its list for budget cuts, says Wired.

However, that hasn’t stopped the government from promoting scientific endeavors. A bipartisan group of six Congressmen have, along with organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), joined forces to create the Golden Goose Awards. These awards are intended to honor those whose basic research has had humane or economic benefits, including life-saving medicines and technological advances that can lead to advances in national security, energy, the environment, communications and public health.

Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) came up with the idea and named the awards as a deliberate play on the “Golden Fleece Awards” that Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) issued between 1975 and 1988 to mock federally-funded research which, seeming to have no practical applications, was dubbed a symbol of the government throwing away citizens’ tax dollars.

First Winners of Golden Goose Awards Announced Last Week

The first set of Golden Goose Awards was handed out on September 13.

Charles Towne, a professor at Columbia University, was cited for the maser, which was essential for the development of the laser technology without which we wouldn’t have computer hard drives, CDs, digital video, satellite broadcasting, laser eye surgery or laser treatment for cancer.

You can already hear Palin or one of her ilk laughing about green fluorescent protein as some sort of slime-thing. Keep laughing, Sarah: The research of Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien looks at the proteins and genetics that make a jellyfish glow green has had applications in genetics, cell biology, developmental biology and neurobiology, thereby contributing to a “better understanding of cancer, brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and other human diseases, and methods used widely by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.”

Coralline bone grafts are often used today to treat bone injury and deformity; they cause no negative immune reaction in humans. Scientists Jon Weber, Eugene White, Rodney White and Della Roy (all at Penn State University) played a part in developing the bone graft materials, though that was not a goal any of them had. Weber and the two Whites (an uncle and nephew) studied the chemical composition and structure of coral; they found it to be “ideal for allowing blood vessels to grow into an implant made with the coral, promoting the growth of new bone.” Roy developed a method that made it possible for the coral actually to be used as bone graft material.

In other words, the sum total and combination of basic research by a number of scientists has led to exciting, and highly needed, creations.

Palin herself be so grateful for fruit fly research, especially in view of its importance for genetics and basic research for treatments for Down Syndrome (which Palin’s youngest son, Trig, has) as well as autism (which her nephew has).

As Cooper (with a reference to Christopher Columbus) and Alan I. Leshner, chief executive of the AAAS, wrote in the Washington Post, “Let’s honor our modern-day explorers. We need more of them. They deserve the last laugh.”

I’d say they are getting it and a more than deserved golden egg, too.


Related Care2 Coverage

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Why I’m Giving Obama and Romney a B in Science

Top 5 Reasons GOP Intellectuals Are Know-Nothings


Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Interesting, thanks

Leia P.
Leia P.5 years ago

the government sucks

a             y m.
g d c5 years ago


Harry P.
Harry P5 years ago

Sarah Palin was the governor of the largest state in the union..
A vise presidential candidate ,as well... And you her??? what????

Ajla C.
Past Member 5 years ago


Cheryl I.
Past Member 5 years ago


Sherrie Brunell
Sherrie Brunell5 years ago

I think the coraline bone grafts are fascinating!

Sherrie Brunell
Sherrie Brunell5 years ago

Jack M. said: Plus each individual in Alaska (courtesy of Sarah) got a yearly raise of money from the oil for each person receiving an average of $2,000 a year. If you have a family of 6 like palin that is $12,000 a year.

I am no Sarah Palin fan, but as a nearly life-long Alaskan, I must correct you here, Jack.

I assume you are referring to the Alaska State Permanent Fund Dividend, when you speak of each individual Alaskan getting money from the state.

This program was set up in 1982, long before Palin, so it wasn't a program she brought into being.

The Permanent Fund Dividend was created as a way to make sure the people of the state of Alaska received some of the profit from the oil that flows from the North Slope. The permanent fund was set up using money from oil profits and we receive the interest on that fund on a yearly basis.

The average dividend is approximately $1000. There have been years that were as high as $1800, but I also remember one year that was less than $400. The amount varies based on how much interest was earned by the permanent fund, which is based in part on the stock market, and the population eligible for a dividend. This year's amount is $878 and will be distributed on October 4.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Sarah Palin attracts fruit flies.. they like rotting things.

John B.
John B5 years ago

Thanks Kristina for the article and we should, as a society, make sure that all our scientific endeavors are well funded. A very good read and Kudos to the winners of the "Golden Goose Awards".