Ever since Erwin Schroedinger decided to put his theoretical cat in a box, physics has been plagued with cats trying to get their own back. Now cats prove that they mastered physics long before Homo sapiens learned how to write an amusing caption on a cat photo.
Roman Stocker, a fluid dynamics researcher at MIT, took Schroedinger’s lead and started experimenting on his cat. A team of scientists analysed high speed video footage of cats lapping milk. It seems that cats use 2 opposing forces, inertia and gravity, to create a column of milk to get milk from point A (Tiddle’s drinking bowl) to point B (mouth). When the cat’s tongue touches the fluid, the milk sticks to it (a property of surface tension); the cat retracting its tongue creates a negative pressure which leads to a sort of sucking action – like using a straw. The cat catches the milk before it falls back to the bowl. Here’s a nice explanatory video, shamelessly stolen from the New Scientist via YouTube: