And that was it for Jennings. After 15 years of doggedly uncovering one of the biggest corruption scandals of the decade, on the morning the FIFA scandal reached its media apex, "I turned [the phone] off actually to get some more sleep, because whatever is happening at six in the morning is still going to be there at lunch time, isn't it?" For Andrew Jennings, the world only moves when he says so. Just ask Sepp Blatter.
The Researchers Who Blew Open Volkswagen Emissions Are Still Begging For Funding
When Daniel Carder and his five-nerd research team managed to scrounge together a $70,000 grant (about a buck fifty in research grant dollars) to test the emissions of some new "clean diesel" vehicles in 2012, they never expected to cripple one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world. It also made them famous, though not in a way that would get them any cash.
West Virginia MetroNew
And not that famous either, let's be real.
Instead of rolling a bunch of cars on treadmills in a lab, Carder tested emissions by going on the world's lamest road trip from LA to Seattle, performing road tests as they went. To their great surprise, certain Volkswagen vehicles were showing as much as 35 times the levels of emissions they expected. Carder immediately assumed they had fucked up, because in science, a tiny deviation means you haven't wasted your time, but a massive one usually means Dave didn't calibrate the microscopes properly and now we're all fired. Thanks, Dave.
Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz
VW Golf 2009: "Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I'm afraid."
Thankfully, Dave hadn't. After the researchers submitted their results, whose conclusion probably contained a single "Um, WTF" at the end, several government agencies started having strong words with Volkswagen. Carder and his team were surprised by the massive reaction to the study -- though mostly because it had been already been published for a year and a half before anyone noticed. Eventually, the company confessed to having used illegal devices to cheat the more commonly used emissions tests. The cover-up cost Volkswagen almost $15 billion, its stock plunged 30 percent, and CEO Martin Winterkorn was forced to take all of the blame and resign -- because that's part of the CEO job description these days.
"From now on, I'll stick to a field free from scandal: European football."
For his incredible contribution to environmental protection, Carder was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in 2016, garnering the type of fame quiet engineers probably have stress dreams about. But that was about it. Even though Volkswagen was forced to fund $4.7 billion in transport research to compensate for stinking up the planet, Carder and his team are still struggling to find funding. In fact, his university budget is facing cuts upon cuts, meaning he'll have to manage his next earth-shattering breakthrough with an abacus and a handful of quarters for gas money.
Also check out 5 Total Nobodies Who Stumbled Into Huge Conspiracies and 6 Nobodies Who Stumbled Into World Changing Discoveries.
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