A friend pointed out to me that increasingly every scientific idea, from the grand to the mundane to the trivial, now needs $1 million in grants or its just not worth doing. Most of these ideas, he claims, are $100K ideas at best. But pointing that out extinguishes interest. Whow can go to all the trouble? What is missing today is access to the small amounts of money needed to test an idea. And the culture has changed to one of “why be in for a penny when you can be in for a pound?” In the good ole days – when the total funding pie was alot smaller than it is today as was anyone’s individual slice of it – departments and laboratories always managed to have small amounts of slush funds that could be used to test the feasibility of a new idea. So, how can it be that with the millions of dollars being thrown at academic research right now there is no slush? My hypothesis is that the slush has become slosh. Labs are actually awash in cash but spending it like the proverbial drunken sailors. So little studies become big studies. New ideas become grand ideas. And like most big things – these projects become too big to fail. Requiring that more money be spent to salvage what’s already been wasted. And so we go. Maybe it is time to bring back smaller budgets, testable ideas, and the slush fund.