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Cat Flight A Possibility

Cat Flight A Possibility

By Marcus FitzGibbon
University of the Rest of England, Bristol, UK

After years of hard work British Scientists have finally found a workable solution to the problem of cat flight.

Since just before Roman times people have been trying to find ways of launching cats high into the air and often allowed themselves to dream of the day when an unmanned cat may even land on the moon.

Galileo was the first to write about the possibility of feline flight and often scribbled his ideas about the subject on napkins and small cloths. He writes earnestly on one particular hanky, “ It is my deepest wish that a tabby may one day be transported up among the heavens so that all may see and enjoy”. He even had plans to mount a telescope near the back of a cat so that he could prove his ideas about the shape of the world.

"Galileo had plans to mount a telescope near the back of a cat so that he could prove his ideas about the shape of the world."
Surprisingly Leonardo da Vinci was not at all interested in cat flight and did not sketch a number of ‘cat flying vessels’ in his journals and numerous notebooks. In one sepia-toned page a detailed diagram of a ‘floating cat harness’ and propeller attachment with dimensions and copious notes is noticeably absent.

More recently, ultrasound scanning has revealed that hidden beneath the layers of paint which make the famous Mona Lisa smile are lines and rough sketches which if looked at very closely through a small rolled-up tube could possibly resemble a cat with what looks like one deformed wing. This has been verified by some special scholars to be Leonardo’s ‘cat with a badly deformed wing’ theory and has even been the subject a BBC documentary on the subject.

In 1852 The Royal Society proclaimed that Feline Flight was impossible and that ‘an [unmanned] cat would never get higher than a tall building or longish pole’. Since then it has remained firmly in the realms of fantasy and as such has been the inspiration for many science fiction stories, most famously Cats on Mars by Jules Verne and the 1977 film The Cat who Landed Strangely starring David Bowie and directed by Ken Levington. But it seems that once again science fiction has its foot firmly stuck in the doorway of fact and is forcing the defenceless old lady of doubt back down the hallway of truth.

A study at Bristol’s rest of England University has taken the possibility of cat flying from the realms of Galileo’s used tissue to a real possibility and the clearly excited research team at URE have been running up and down the corridors, stamping, shouting and pointing up at the clear blue sky. “It’s a real breakthrough.” said professor Glynn Martin who has been leading the team since May 2007. "We’ve been testing cats at high altitude and so far have obtained results which lead us to believe that the very real possibility of future progress which may lead to concrete results in less than a few years time could, or would, be a very real probability”.

Professor Martin went on to show slides
(see diagram below) demonstrating velocity, arc, wind speed and the now much talked about ‘rolling patterns’ which appear to be part of the new science which has helped this project leap so gracefully forward. It seems that if a feline subject is ‘rolled’ soon after launching it can achieve a trajectory far in excess of that previously obtained when no rolling has been used.



When asked about disorientation due to the effects of ‘rolling’ Professor Martin was less forthcoming and tried to hide his papers behind a student. Despite this small setback the presentation and press briefing went well and Professor Martin was later to be seen using the hand which held the papers in a ‘friendly’ way.

When asked if we will be seeing a cat walking or even running along the moon in our lifetime Professor Martin replies with a smile, “We could, in our lifetime, be seeing a cat walking or even running along parts of the moon.” And if not? “Well, we’ll certainly try our best.” laughed the professor.

More about cats:

- Spoof - Cats tracked from space
- News - Phones used to catch big cats

More groundbreaking research:

- Spoof - New method for transmitting food
- News - Powdered alchohol

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05 May 2009
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