I love it. Via the New York Times:
It has taken four highly qualified engineers and a bunch of integral equations to figure it out, but we now know how cats drink. The answer is: very elegantly, and not at all the way you might suppose.
The best part? To test their findings, the engineers used a robotic “tongue” that precisely imitated the cat’s lapping action. The machine’s provenance:
The project required no financing. The robot that mimicked the cat’s tongue was built for an experiment on the International Space Station, and the engineers simply borrowed it from a neighboring lab.
Yes! Thank you, ISS. This is exactly why we need to continue to fund space technology. Sure, I’d prefer — as Richard Dawkins does — that astrophysical research be funded more out of the “awe and wonder” motive than the “non-stick frying pan” side benefits. But I have to admit: learning how kitties drink is an awesome benefit indeed.
In all seriousness, this is in fact exactly why we need to support science research of all kinds — because you never know when a finding in one field might have some crucial application in another. Strategies or technologies in one discipline may help solve a puzzle for which they were never intended: today, how cats lap; tomorrow — who knows? — perhaps the cure for cancer.