I was struck this week by the wonder of ‘things being various’ (Louis MacNeice, Snow) when I read that Dr Roman Stocker from Massachusetts had discovered how cats actually drink.
We’ve so much in common he and I – we both have cats and we’ve both been intrigued by the delicate action of the little pink tongue as the cat drinks. However, there the similarities screech to a halt.
On watching his cat drink, the doctor says: “I realised there was an interesting biomechanical problem hidden behind that very simple action.”
So he promptly set up a project to study exactly how the cat draws liquid up into its mouth.
He discovered that the process “was down to interplay between two forces: inertia and gravity”.
Meanwhile, in Belfast, I watched my cat and my reaction was: “How does she do that, it’s so cute!”
So I promptly set myself up a cup of tea and some buns and studied the TV listings. I discovered the interplay of inertia and gravity too — I tried to get off the couch, but couldn’t be bothered.
As a result of our differing approaches, Dr Stocker is now world famous, while I’m struggling to fit into my jeans.
So two discoveries really — how a cat drinks and why I’ll never be a scientist.