Thursday, 16 June 2011

Science: Of Scarce Resources

Scientists could spend time better than on perfect cups of tea...

And by this I don't mean that scientists should not enjoy a perfect cuppa. As a matter of fact, a perfect cuppa may even enhance the quality of their work, which surely is a good thing. What does irk me more than a little bit is the research conducted by an entire lab into the "science" of brewing a perfect cup of tea. Apparently, a group from University of Northumbria spent 180 hours and 285 cups of tea to find the perfect formula. If you're into tea by all means hop over to El Reg and copy down their result. But I must ask: is this the best use of scientific resource? Even if the research was funded by industry (in this case Cravendale Milk company), surely lab and scientists' time can find better uses than figuring out how much milk should go into a cup of tea? Especially since surely not everyone can ever agree on a universally "perfect" taste. Yes, I understand that Cravendale Milk probably realised this exercise is a cheaper way to publicity than buying TV, radio, newspaper, or billboard ads, but shouldn't there be a way for the faculty - if not cash strapped scientists themselves - to say a polite "thanks, but no thanks - we've better things to do"? Surely Britain hasn't run out of worthy projects more important than the taste of tea with milk? Worst of all, here's me also giving Cravendale Milk free publicity. Well, a tiny little bit if it's to be judged by my readership numbers.

And I'm not saying this just because coffee's my drug, either...