Analysis of cats during a cat show reveals they mostly lazed around

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS


New Scientist Default Image

Intentional cattiness

When cats are forced to endure a crush of mass attention from an adoring public, do they continue to behave in their famous, endearing, imperious “cat-like” ways? Simona Cannas and her colleagues at the University of Milan in Italy produced some data that may bring attention to the question.

Their study, “Assessment of cats’ behavior during a cat show“, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, focuses on 82 cats at a cat show. (The researchers, using professional lingo, say the event was “a feline exposition”.)

They gathered the data meticulously: “the observer stood in front of the cages once an hour, from 10 to 17 [minutes past], for a total of 8 times for each cat”.

They saw what they saw: “Analysis of behaviors exhibited by cats during the exposition day revealed that most of them were sleeping (93.9%), resting (62.2%), and looking at their surroundings (92.7%).”

The researchers’ conclusion leaves room, still, for debate as to what those cats had in mind. The study says “the cat show environment represents a situation full of stressful stimuli for the cat; despite this, our results have identified few behaviors of discomfort or stress… Further studies are required to confirm and deepen our results.”

What a yarn

Very long, thin things vary a lot in what their mathematician’s-eye-catching length-to-thinness ratio makes it possible for them to do.

A press release from North Carolina State University hails the creation of “yarn-shaped supercapacitors”, so called because the devices are thread-like and can behave as capacitors, controllably storing and disbursing electrical charge. The press release quotes Wei Gao, a co-inventor of the technology.

She said: “Imagine you can make a yarn, just a regular textile yarn, that you also make into a battery. You can basically hide it in your clothing. If you can do that, you can add so many more functions to your clothing.”

We may be entering a technological Age of Thin Things.

As Feedback has noted (1 October 2022), a new city planned as part of Saudi Arabia’s Neom project is designed to be 170,000 metres long by 200 metres wide. Could the North Carolinian yarn-shaped supercapacitor tech be incorporated into the Saudi city’s exoskeleton? That would be a drastic leap to the future for a country that insists it wants to move beyond its current economic reliance on oil.

This suddenly-almost-plausible possibility shows the prescience of Wallis Simpson, former Duchess of Windsor, who is said to have said almost a century ago: “One can never be too rich or too thin.”

Measuring addiction

The old saying “If you can measure it, it must be important” haunts the many research efforts to explain why it is important to measure two of the five fingers on a person’s hand. Specifically, the second and fourth fingers. The two-finger quest kinda, sorta resembles an addiction. Sometimes this quest looks at addiction itself as being, maybe, something you can better understand by measuring fingers.

Typically, finger-ratio explanations grow in some vague way from the notion that hormone levels in the uterus before birth somehow explain the relative lengths, years later, of a person’s fingers.

Finger-ratio-centric research studies are numerous and imaginative. They vary widely – almost wildly – in the kinds of important mysteries the researchers seek to explain.

How varied? Here are a few of the subjects addressed in recent years in published digit-ratio studies: “voice behavior in bankers”; “hunting success among Hadza hunters”; religiosity in university students; “parental income inequality and children’s digit ratio”; artistic ability; “age at first marriage in semi-nomadic people from Namibia”; “psychological features in a sample of cavers”; bite injuries occurring in fistfights; “managerial skills of managers employed in public and private organizations of Udaipur City”; and “number of sex partners”.

And addiction. Mehmet Gürkan Gürok and colleagues at various institutions in Turkey have recently written a paper called “Second and fourth (2D:4D) digit ratio in heroin and cannabis addicted patients“. They published it in the Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse. Like most finger-ratio studies, this one was done with great care: “We obtained the lengths of 2D and 4D of the subjects by using sensitive calipers and calculated the 2D:4D.” And as is customary, it is full of promise: “Our findings can be considered promising as to whether prenatal hormonal factors are important in the etiopathogenesis of addiction.”

The Denver sniff test

When something – and its headline – smells funny, maybe it is worth looking into. People who happen across a sombre study by environmental scientists in the US might react first to the ambiguity of its title: “Evaluating the environmental justice dimensions of odor in Denver, Colorado“.

Was that title meant to be solemnly serious? Deadpannedly funny? Both? Whatever the intent, Feedback salutes its authors. Their wording triggered the olfactoric-linguistical sensibilities of Mason Porter, who alerted us to it.

Marc Abrahams created the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony and co-founded the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Earlier, he worked on unusual ways to use computers. His website is improbable.com.

Got a story for Feedback?

You can send stories to Feedback by email at feedback@newscientist.com. Please include your home address. This week’s and past Feedbacks can be seen on our website.



Source link

You may also like