Category Archives: Science Caturday

Science Caturday: Feline scientists in training

Hi folks — Greg Gbur aka “Dr. SkySkull” here!  Michele couldn’t be here for Science Caturday this week and she asked me to fill in.  My wife and I have a lot of cats at home, who are of course all scientists in training, so I thought I’d share a few of their research interests.

First up is Rascal, one of our youngest cats at about 3 years old.  He recently showed interest in a “simple electric train” that you can built with magnets, a battery, and coiled copper wire.  A video demonstration of this effect has been making the rounds recently, and I just wrote a blog post explaining the physics of it.

"Iz magneto-electric mouse!!??"

“Iz magneto-electric mouse!!??”

Next up is Fluff, who is about the same age as Rascal but is not related.  We went on a “kitten-adopting frenzy” around that time!  Fluff has shown great interest in magnetic levitation, though in the end of his research he decided that he hates it.  And terra-cotta warriors.

These little platforms are fun to play with and can be ordered online.  They use time-varying magnetic fields to stably levitate the platform, in a manner similar to that of maglev trains.

Our cat Sophie has followed in my career path somewhat!  I started my physics career studying fundamental particle physics, and eventually decided that I preferred less fundamental but still interesting optical science.  Sophie started out ruminating over the implications of string theory…

"What if the whole universe is made of stringzzzz...zzz..."

“What if the whole universe is made of stringzzzz…zzz…”

…but, like me, grew fascinated by pretty lights!  Christmas trees tend to do that to cats.

"My Dogz... it's full of starz!"

“My Dogz… it’s full of starz!”

I could go on, but I think you can see the point! Have a happy holiday season, everyone!

Science Caturday: Orion Kitteh Soars


After some weather and technical delays, NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which may someday carry astronauts to Mars, completed a perfect high-orbit test flight yesterday. Orion Kitteh provides a dramatic re-enactment, minus the yucky water landing part.


Science Caturday: Small Business Caturday


Today is Small Business Caturday, a day set aside for holiday shoppers to discover and support cat-owned businesses.  One of our favorites is Mycrobe Catnip, an etsy store devoted to creating geeky catnip toys that are equally irresistible to cats and science-obsessed humans. Mycrobe was started by Talia Jewell, a scientist who turned her felting hobby into a side business with the help of her feline companions. She makes catnip toys in the shapes of UFOs, fish, birds, insects and – coolest of all – microbes, including this amazing giardia parasite.  You can seriously indulge your feline companions with a Mycrobe Geeky Catnip Toy of the Month Club membership, which might include anything from bugs to rockets.

Science Caturday: LOL Effect


The area around Buffalo, NY was buried under an astonishing seven feet of snow this week, due to a phenomenon called “lake effect”, which is explained here. Meteorologists may find this fascinating, and kids may be happy to miss school, but at least one group of upstate New Yorkers is seriously disgruntled: the cats. Well, except for this guy. There’s always one.


Science Caturday: I smell a whatchamacallit


A team of scientists led by Jonas Olofsson published a study this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, describing research that identified two areas in the brain which link odor to language. Using fMRI and other techniques, researchers were able to map areas of the brain which provide the interface between olfactory and verbal cues. The team hopes to use the findings to advance research into dementia. We hope they go on to experiment on cats, whose superior sense of smell is, alas, joined to a somewhat weaker verbal ability, particularly with regard to the word “the”.