I am the Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the project, currently at the University of California at Berkeley, and am generally in charge of everything that the Professors don't feel like doing..
This quote sure sounds legit.
As far as the question some have asked about what is the purpose of the study that is the cool thing about science. There doesn't have to be a purpose. The very fact that someone woke up one morning and had an idea that:
1. There are a lot of islands reasonably close by each other.
2. Spiders have a relatively short life cycle so spiders that get cut off from the big island may evolve in interesting ways rather quickly.
3. No one has studied this before.
4. Lets do it we might find out something interesting.
That alone is worth it as the more we expand our understanding of our world the better able we are to take care of ourselves and the planet.
Donald Rumsfeld said something like:
We have known, knowns and
known, unknowns but the most dangerous are
That is the purpose of pure science research.
I suspect that is the reason many of us are on sailnet.
We are looking the the unknown, unknowns.
Things we don't even have a clue about that might bite us, but if we read it here first we can be prepared.
As you probably know on an open forum like this everyone is free to express their opinions. We all waste our own money in someones opinion sometime even our own. We all have opinions on how the government should spend our money too.
My advice to you is to keep this thread going and continue to answer questions and keep it going that way you will maximize the number of people that will see the thread and maybe you can find a willing ride to two.