Writing in the Thursday issue of Science, the four engineers report that the cat’s lapping method depends on its instinctive ability to calculate the point at which gravitational force would overcome inertia and cause the water to fall.
What happens is that the cat darts its tongue, curving the upper side downward so that the tip lightly touches the surface of the water.
The tongue is then pulled upward at high speed, drawing a column of water behind it.
Just at the moment that gravity finally overcomes the rush of the water and starts to pull the column down — snap! The cat’s jaws have closed over the jet of water and swallowed it.
The cat laps four times a second — too fast for the human eye to see anything but a blur — and its tongue moves at a speed of one meter per second.
Being engineers, the cat-lapping team next tested its findings with a machine that mimicked a cat’s tongue, using a glass disk at the end of a piston to serve as the tip. After calculating things like the Froude number and the aspect ratio, they were able to figure out how fast a cat should lap to get the greatest amount of water into its mouth. The cats, it turns out, were way ahead of them — they lap at just that speed.And this adds just one more reason for the cats to feel superior to humans. By the way, I think the engineers that figured the cat-lapping problem are different than the ones who produced An Engineer's Guide to Cats (and Advanced Cat Yodeling). But who knows?
Okay, so while we are on the subject of science, here are Science Cheerleaders performing at the USA Science & Engineering Festival from last month (tip from Ahmed):
And to conclude, here is the picture of a galaxy from 13.1 billion years ago!! The dot in the red-circle on the left is the center of attention and it goes by the sexy name of UDFy-38135539 (yes, light from this tiny smudge left when the universe was only 600 million years old. At the time there was no Earth, no solar system, and not even the Milky Way. This is how long it has taken for the light to reach us! C'mon - this is so amazingly cool! [oh and yes, almost all the smudges you see in the picture are galaxies...and most are incredibly far-away].
Read more about it here.