The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded annually by Improbable Research, an organization dedicated to science and humor. The goal is to highlight scientific studies that make people laugh first, then think.
Are cats liquid or solid? That’s the kind of question that could win a scientist an Ig Nobel Prize. But it wasn’t with this in mind that Marc-Antoine Fardin, a physicist at Paris Diderot University, set out to find out whether house cats flow.
Marc-Antoine Fardin was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for his research paper on the rheology of cats.
“At the center of the definition of a liquid is an action: A material must be able to modify its form to fit within a container,” Fardin said.
“If we take cats as our example, the fact is that they can adapt their shape to their container if we give them enough time. Cats are thus liquid if we give them the time to become liquid.”
The conclusion? Cats can be either liquid or solid, depending on the circumstances, Fardin reported in the Rheology Bulletin.
A cat in a small box will behave like a fluid, filling up all the space, but a cat in a bathtub full of water will try to minimize its contact with it and behave very much like a solid.