If you have ever seen a cat squish its body up in the most unusual way to fit inside a box, then you might have wondered whether the cat was a solid or liquid. That’s exactly what French researcher Marc-Antoine Fardin did, and he won an award for it.
Fardin won The Ig Nobel Prize for physics for his research paper “On the Rheology of Cats,” which posed one of the world’s most pressing questions: “Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid?”
The annual Ig Nobel awards honors “achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think.” Fardin and several others were presented with this year’s Ig Nobel awards Thursday at Harvard University. The prizes are “intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology,” according to the Ig Nobel website.
In his paper, published in the July 2014 issue of the “Rheology Bulletin,” Fardin looked into physical properties of cats in order to determine whether they can flow like liquids. He got the idea for the study after seeing a post on Bored Panda entitled “Cats are liquids,” which presumably showed photos of cats squished into various objects, like vases and wine glasses. He concluded: “Much more work remains ahead, but cats are proving to be a rich model system for rheological research.”
There’s one thing we know for sure, though: When it comes to cats, if it fits, they sits. And there will be no shortage of them squeezing into small spaces for scientists to study.