Cat and Toast
by Alex Elliott
Was it Douglas Adams who proposed the anti-gravity device composed of a buttered slice of toast tied to the back of a cat? Since cats "always land on their feet" and toast "always lands buttered side down" the combination of the two could logically never reach the floor.
Report of experiment:
- See above.
- One (1) English muffin half, lightly toasted (no standard bread was available at the time)
- Strawberry jam, homemade by the experimenter's mother
- One (1) cat; in this case a six-year-old spayed female, slightly overweight, named Gotterdammerung
- Two small holes were cut in the English muffin half, each about 0.75 inches from the edge of the muffin, 180 degrees apart. After toasting, a length of string was threaded through the muffin, which was then spread with approximately one tablespoon of strawberry jam. (Aside: will the amount of jam determine the hovering height of the cat-muffin assembly?) The string was tied around the cat's waist, with the muffin arranged on the cat's back, strawberry jam side up.
- The cat will be dropped from about three feet above the floor. The initial trial will be done with the cat oriented sideways upon release, so as not to bias the results in either the catwards or muffinwards direction. Should the apparatus prove durable enough for repeated trials, additional starting orientations will be tried.
- The cat seemed vaguely disturbed by the assembly process, although she did not attempt to escape (perhaps because she had not yet been fed her breakfast and was afraid she would miss it).
- Because the string had been tied somewhat loosely (so as not to cut through the muffin or interfere with the cat's breathing), there was an unanticipated degree of muffin slippage, particularly as the cat twisted around during her descent.
- The cat landed on her feet.
- By the time of the cat's landing, the muffin had slipped around her body almost to her stomach.
- After the cat landed, she sat down and started chewing at the string; this action brought the jam side of the muffin in contact with the floor.
- Roommates tend to be displeased with patches of strawberry jam covered with cat hair in the center of the kitchen floor.
- Obviously the two physical laws involved in this experiment are far stronger than this experimenter had anticipated. A more sophisticated method of muffin affixation is needed before a reliable anti-gravity device can be produced. Unfortunately, the experimenter had to leave for work after cleaning up the mess, so no further experimentation was possible.
- Two unbreakable laws, when set up in seeming opposition, will both be satisfied anyway. Further research into cat-muffin phenomena is desperately needed, pending the award of extremely large research grants (cash in small-denomination, unmarked bills preferred) and the assistance of nubile young laboratory assistants (ones who look like Marky-Mark would be ideal).