Well, I’m actually not opposed to this one. Research grants aren’t always a bad thing, and as another poster pointed out, there is a lot of potential upside to this particular area of research. The venom of the cone snail, for example, has shown tremendous potential for a wide range of medicines, including the already in use ziconotide.
I would agree that it would been have been better if private funding had paid for this. Thing is, the private sector isn’t always interested in projects like this. Sometimes research doesn’t have a commerical payoff, but it is still worth pursuing. The physics work done at, say, the Fermi Labs might not have a commercial payoff, but I sure think it is worth having.
Not only is this research relevant, but all of that money trickles down to help high-tech industries stay in business and pays salaries that keep local businesses going. It isn’t like it gets sent to line the pockets of obama’s friends or used to study why lesbians are fat.