Cat-thartic Science

Apr 11 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

This amazingly hilarious thing happened over the past couple of weeks. By "hilarious" I mean the kind of funny that only other pipettor-jockeys can understand, that humor you see in situations that are so ridiculous, uncomfortable and painful that you are forced to reclassify them "hilarious" in order to get out of bed in the morning.

It just so happened that this latest episode of hilarity occurred right as I was gearing up to shower the Guest Blogge with a torrential downpour of amazingness. Like a penny on the tracks that also happens to be a landmine, it derailed my post frequency here by giving me a bunch of Real Work to do. In the same week I was told to prepare (in only ten days!?) for my maybe-final PhD committee meeting and had maybe my best shot at a first-author paper (AKA Backup Project Wars, Episode IV: "A New Hope") pulled out of the submission envelope thanks to three hydrogen atoms and a collaborator. Who wouldn't want to go to grad school, amirite?

But screw all that. I'm hereby declaring FILDI. What better to shake off the darkness than an internet retrospective of cats and science?

I don't own a cat, and I never want to. I'm not an especially big fan of real ones, either. Just indifferent, which is an ironic and very feline attitude for a human to hold towards a cat. But internet cats? I'm all over that. Here's a selection of cat/science combinations. Add yours in the comments!

Ceiling cat is watching you.

1. LIFE magazine published a collection of their 37 Best-Ever Science Photos recently (although their link is dead), and this little fuzzy bastard was at the top of the list (the cat, not the scientist). I don't care what experiment they are doing in this picture, but I'm damn sure making a note to find out for a future blog post.

Yarning for discovery.

2. Cat Scientists of the 1960's is a blog that's full of The Right Stuff. It's where public domain science images get Tabbified.

In order to use the litterbox, you must first create the universe

3. Cat Sagan is a creation of the blog in #2, but deserves its own mention out of pure awesomeness. I hear they are remaking his iconic series Cosmouse, but starring Neil Dograsse Tyson. Not sure how I feel about that.

4. We owe image enhancement engineers like Brant Widgeon a deep debt of gratitude. So much #starporn gets passed around the internet and we ooh and ahh without a second thought to the hard work that goes into creating the beautiful images. If he didn't take the time to remove all the Space Cats, where would we be?! Don't answer the last question. It's too horrible to think about. (Ed. note: Seriously, though. Editing space photos is hard)



5. Organic chemistry is made of cats. It's true. Or at least they can be used to illustrate some basic chemistry principles.

6. Finally, I think it's time we wonder whether the cat meme is dead. The only problem with this question is that as soon as we peer into the internet to make an observation, the question itself is moot. For in our quantum litterbox, if we refuse to collapse to one (or any) reality, the cat is both dead and alive.

One response so far

  • Julian Frost says:

    Hi Joe,
    My parents have the book "Best of Life", which is a selection of photographs from Life Magazine. The picture up top isn't in it, but another from the same experiment was. If I remember correctly, they were trying to test how a cat would respond to being upside down. The experiment went terribly. The kitten panicked, and paid no attention to the rats sent to tempt it. After a few minutes, the kitten was let down.