Feeds

Pussy-slurping: You think you understand it, BUT YOU DON'T

Boffins in cataclysmic lingual robotics breakthrough

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Videos Time-rich boffins in the States, who have been analysing the mechanism by which cats lap up beverages for more than three years - research which included the construction of an articulated, robotic feline tongue simulator - say they have finally cracked the mysterious moggies' methods. Curiously, it seems that cats actually drink without getting any liquid on the bottoms of their tongues at all.

An MIT statement regarding the research says:

Knowing the size and speed of the tongue, the researchers then developed a mathematical model involving the Froude number, a dimensionless number that characterises the ratio between gravity and inertia. For cats of all sizes, that number is almost exactly one, indicating a perfect balance.

It seems that a normal cat - or a tiger, lion or jaguar - bends the tip of its tongue downward and then flicks it at the surface of its beverage of choice. The lingual piston thus formed is then whipped back into the mouth, causing a spout or column of liquid to surge up beneath it. The crafty feline allows this to fly into its mouth, so keeping its chin dry in fastidious style - as opposed to the slobbery methods of dogs, for instance.

The boffins discovered this by analysing high-speed videos of various sizes of cats drinking - including a lion, a tiger and a jaguar, thanks to cooperation from zookeepers. In order to test their theories they naturally had to construct a robotic cat-lapping lingual simulator, with gratifying results as we see here:

“As the project went on, we were surprised and amused by the beauty of the fluid mechanics involved in this system,” said Sunghwan Jung, an engineer whose research focuses on "soft bodies, such as fish, and the fluids surrounding them".

“The amount of liquid available for the cat to capture each time it closes its mouth depends on the size and speed of the tongue,” said Jeffrey Aristoff, a mathematician. “Our research — the experimental measurements and theoretical predictions — suggests that the cat chooses the speed in order to maximise the amount of liquid ingested per lap. This suggests that cats are smarter than many people think, at least when it comes to hydrodynamics.”

Grumbling taxpayers can rest easy, however.

"We did it without any funding, without any graduate students, without much of the usual apparatus that science is done with nowadays," insists biophysicist Roman Stocker. Apparently the scientists all "spent hours at the Stocker home", lurking with high-speed cameras poised around the bowl of Stocker's cat "Cutta Cutta". ("Cutta Cutta" is an Australian aboriginal name meaning "stars stars", apparently.)

“Science allows us to look at natural processes with a different eye and to understand how things work, even if that’s figuring out how my cat laps his breakfast,” Stocker says. “It’s a job, but also a passion, and this project for me was a high point in teamwork and creativity."

Subscribers can read the paper How Cats Lap here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.