Physicist Wins “Ig Noble” Prize for His Research on Whether Cats Should be Classified as a Liquid or Solid

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The Ig Nobel Prize, awarded by Improbable Research, is a prize that celebrates the lighter side of science by awarding prizes to real, scientifically valid research that probably won’t actually advance mankind at all… but is hilarious nonetheless.

For example, physicist Marc-Antoine Fardin won the Ig Nobel Prize for his research paper on the rheology or deformation and flow of matter…of cats.

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A material must be able to modify its form to fit within a container. The action must also have a characteristic duration. In rheology, this is called the relaxation time. Determining if something is liquid depends on whether it’s observed over a time period that’s shorter or longer than the relaxation time.

So with regard to cats, clearly they can adapt their shape to their container if we give them enough time. In conclusion, based on the above theory, cats are a liquid if we give them the time to become liquid.

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But are cats really a liquid? That remains inconclusive, but Fardin does believe that cats can be a solid or a liquid as he notes in Rheology Bulletin in 2014.

And, for any creature-conscious readers out that, he also mentions that no cats were harmed during his research. Even though they may look a little panicked in those containers, that’s just their faces. Whew!