You Are Still Just A Rat In A Cage

You ever wonder why pet mice and gerbils and such seem to enjoy those little exercise wheels so much?  Probably because they are in this little cage and there’s not much else to do, right?

Wrong.

Scientists decided to take exercise wheels out of the cages and put them in places outside and see what would happen.  One they put in a green urban center and another they put in a remote dune area.  Much to their chagrin, they found that wild mice and rats and even some snails, slugs, and frogs enjoyed using the exercise wheel.  Over three years, they recorded over 1,200 uses of the exercise wheel.  They originally used food to lure the animals to the exercise wheel site, but on the chance that they were using the wheel because of the food, they removed it and still were recording wheel usage.

This is the kind of experiment that gets mocked by people who don’t have a basic understanding of how science works.  I have no idea if there are any useful scientific conclusions to draw from this experimeint or not.  The authors suggest that there may be something to gleen about the habits of sedentary versus more active humans, but who know.  They did an experiment that was never attempted before and reached a conclusion that is at least somewhat unexpected.  Basic science like this is how big discoveries are made.  There is a quote that I remember, but can’t find the source and it goes something like this: Great discoveries are often thought to come from someone burning the midnight oil and coming across some new discovery and shouting “Eureka!”, but more often than not it comes from someone looking at a bit of gathered data and thinking to herself, “That’s odd”.

Leave a Reply