Rand Paul: US government spent $118,000 to learn if Thanos could really snap his fingers

"We spent $118,000 to study if a metal replica, a robot of Marvel Comics evil warlord Thanos, could snap his fingers. $118,000. Really," Paul said.

Joshua Young North Carolina

On Tuesday, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took to the Senate floor to slam wasteful big government spending, highlighting how the National Science Foundation granted $118,971 of taxpayer money to a group of Georgia Tech students so they could learn if the Marvel villain Thanos, while wearing the fictional Infinity Gauntlet, could really snap his fingers.

"We spent $118,000 to study if a metal replica, a robot of Marvel Comics evil warlord Thanos, could snap his fingers. $118,000. Really," Paul said. "They apparently hired some dude to wear metal gloves and then try to snap his fingers. You know what they found out that it's impossible to make a snapping sound with metal fingers."

"So robots of the world be warned. It's hard to snap your fingers," Senator Paul added.

According to Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering website, the research was led by Georgia Tech undergrad Raghav Acharya with help from Elio Challita, a doctoral student, Saad Bhamla, an assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Assistant Professor Mark Ilton from the Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

Bamla said of his study, "For the past few years, I've been fascinated with how we can snap our fingers." 

"It's really an extraordinary physics puzzle right at our fingertips that hasn't been investigated closely," he added. This team at Georgia Tech were fascinated by the relatively well-studied science behind the finger friction, energy, and vibration that causes sound produced when a human being snaps their fingers.

Their angle was to determine how important skin mattered and if one day prosthetics could snap like flesh and bone.

They built the replica and learned that it did not produce a snap as the compression of the skin plays too important a role in the manufacture of the noise.

"Our results suggest that Thanos could not have snapped because of his metal armored fingers," Acharya said. "So, it's probably the Hollywood special effects, rather than actual physics, at play! Sorry for the spoiler."

This team was awarded $118,000. The median American household income according to the Census Bureau is $67,521.

Paul included the taxpayer money given for the Thanos replica in his annual "Festivus Report" released Friday and wrote, "To paraphrase Captain America, the NSF (National Science Foundation) is not looking for forgiveness for wasting American taxpayers' hard-earned money, and it's way past asking for permission."

According to Paul's website this is his eighth edition of the Festivus Report and he found a total of "$482,276,543,907 in government waste."

The term Festivus originates from an episode of Seinfeld where George's father invented a new holiday in which he could air his grievances.

"I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it!" Frank Costanza exclaimed in the episode.

Paul opened his statement by saying, "You would think that a looming recession, spurred largely by exorbitant government spending would give this Congress pause. But instead of taking a minute to consider what a Responsible Federal Government budget looks like, we are instead placed behind the barrel of a gun, forcing us to choose between letting government expire or blindly passing a $1.7 trillion spending package that not only does not balance, but in fact spends over 10 percent More than last year."

In the Marvel comics, Thanos was born on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. In the Avengers film adaptation, his motivation to snap while wearing the Infitinty Guantlet is population control, however in the comics his agenda is to court the literal manifestation of death.

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