Disclaimer: The Washington Post is owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, who also runs Amazon, though we really don't think we're doing the site any favors with this article.
Last month, John Birch left a four-star review on Amazon for a tea strainer, which his son had purchased to separate ants for a zoology experiment. No big deal. The review sat quietly on the site until this week, when other scientists found it, shared it and instantly started a Twitter trend.
We lay-folk have long known that scientists use common objects for strange reasons — see NASA researchers sending rubber ducks into a glacier to track ocean currents, or environmental scientists floating tampons down streams to find pollution. But until now, we may not have understood the scope or, frankly, the grossness of the phenomenon.
We present below: #ReviewForScience, an abridged collection.
Let's just say there are worse things you can put through a tea strainer than ants.
But there are really no limits. If someone has sold it on Amazon, or maybe anywhere, a researcher has probably befouled it in the name of human knowledge.
We could probably write more about this. Maybe a few paragraphs about how the rise of online shopping has affected academia, or whatever, but you'd probably rather just read about how yoga mats can be used for fish surgery, so here:
Ben Guarino and many scientists contributed to this report. It has been updated with more details on the original tea strainer/ants review.