CONTACT

 

Knights Lab

MCB 6-124

420 Washington Ave SE

Minneapolis, MN 55455

(612) 5-MICROB (612-564-2762)

dknights@umn.edu

ABOUT

 

Dr. Dan Knights is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Biotechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota. The Knights lab models host-microbiome interactions in human disease, with labs in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Knights is a PI with the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.

© 2013-2014 Knights Lab, University of Minnesota

A child's grant proposal

To Santa.

2015 Christmas Present Review Committee

Santa's Workshop

The North Pole

 

 

Dear Santa,

 

The recent proliferation of moving vehicle toys, specifically fire trucks, matchbox cars, police cars, and toy trains in my house has caused a noted increase in my average daily levels of happiness. Trucks and cars play a fundamental role in my daily play routines involving traffic jams, big lineups to go all the way around the room, crashes, and lots of racing around. However, I have found recently that these play activities, while enjoyable and fulfilling, have not resulted in any extreme peaks of euphoria. The central hypothesis of this proposal is that Santa bringing me a really big fire truck (RBF) would provide an acute feeling of euphoria, and would improve substantially my ability to really have fun every day. Any improvements to my daily play are expected to increase the overall positive impression I’ll have later in life of my childhood, and will have the secondary benefit of keeping me occupied for longer periods of time without the need for attention from my parents. I am therefore requesting an RBF for Christmas. 

 

Innovation

Although there has been extensive play with fire trucks in my house, I have never had an RBF. The one time I did play with an RBF was at Jake’s house and it was awesome.

 

Significance

We used statistical models of temporal fluctuations in past childhood pleasure over time to predict what will happen this Christmas if I receive the RBF (Figure 1), projecting an unprecedented, almost nauseating, peak in pleasure occurring at the instant that I see the RBF in front of the fireplace on Christmas morning. We also project a long-term increase in my ability to enjoy playing with my fire trucks. Notably, the predicted long-term increase in play enjoyment holds even when controlling for confounding Christmas presents.

Figure 1. Childhood pleasure versus time. The previous Christmas present from Santa, a medium-sized fire truck, elicited a strong temporary pleasure response. However, this did not cross the threshold for mind-blowing euphoria (orange line). Receiving a really big fire truck from Santa for this Christmas is predicted to produce temporary pleasure values in excess of 10, with a sustained increase in long-term pleasure lasting several months.

 Preliminary data
My current trucks consist of normal-size fire trucks (Figure 2A, B), demonstrating the need for a really big fire truck (Figure 2C). Past gifts have had significant effects on my playtime pleasure, including a noted spike in pleasure (8.9/10) on the previous Christmas day when I received a medium fire truck from Santa (Figure 1).

Figure 2. Current and proposed fire trucks in my collection. (A) I do currently have several types of fire trucks in my cars collection, including some face fire trucks. These fire trucks are fine and I have had fun with them but they are boring now. I hardly play with them. (B) Example OK fire truck that is good but not the best thing ever. (C) Example of the kind of really big fire truck that I want to see on my fireplace on Christmas morning. Please do not wrap it because I want to see it when I am coming down the stairs.

 Investigative team

Principal Investigator Timmy has extensive experience playing with many kinds of trucks, cars, trains, fire trucks, really big cars and trucks, and other types of moving vehicles. I have played for several years with my existing fire truck collection (Figure 2A), producing multiple realistic simulations of house fires with several trucks responding to the scene. A full accounting of my existing toy vehicle collection is included in Appendix A. On last year’s Christmas day, I successfully played with the medium-sized fire truck provided by Santa for approximately 1.5 hours, and I continued to play with it regularly for up to 1 month, and it is kind of broken now but it still works. There is also my brother Joe-Joe but I do not intend to let him play with my fire trucks because they are mine. A letter of support is included from my parents indicating that they will provide adequate space for play with fire trucks, cars, trains, and other moving vehicles. My existing fire truck and emergency vehicle collection will provide adequate support for simulating emergency situations.

 

Research strategy
I will play with the fire truck every day. This will include reenacting simulations of large building fires, forest fires, and other disaster scenes requiring a coordinated emergency response. I will leave the firetruck in the middle of the floor every day so that I can always find it.

 

Potential pitfalls

It is possible that the fire truck will not be as big or exciting as expected. To mitigate the detrimental effects of this possibility, I recommend that Santa bring me a really big fire truck that has a face. Face fire trucks are widely known to be even more fun than fire trucks that don’t have a face. Also, please make it realllly big. Like, so big.

 

 

Santa's Workshop

 

 

Timmy Nolan

No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane

London, U.K. 

 

 

Dear Timmy,

 

We wish to thank you for your interest in Christmas presents, and the time spent on compiling your proposal. We received many strong responses to our call for proposals. Your proposal was reviewed carefully by our expert panel of elves, and we regret to inform you that your proposed Christmas present has not been selected for delivery by Santa. Specific concerns of the elves regarding your proposal for a Really Big Firetruck include lack of innovation (we have received over a million other proposals for RBFs this year alone), and all those times when you were naughty.

Please do contact Santa’s Workshop if you have questions about your application or to discuss other opportunities, skills development training and related affairs. We encourage you to resubmit a revised version of your proposal for next year’s Christmas if you can address the elves’ concerns.

Kind Regards,

The Elves