Sideswipe
A daily look at life's oddities by Ana Samways

Sideswipe: June 13: Heat seeking cat

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"As soon as winter kicks in a neighbour's cat beats the cold weather by sitting outdoors on the thermal heating pipes," writes a reader. Photo / Supplied
"As soon as winter kicks in a neighbour's cat beats the cold weather by sitting outdoors on the thermal heating pipes," writes a reader. Photo / Supplied

Catastrophic experiment

Suspend your disbelief, please. This story may or may not be true, but I would like to believe it is. "My dad was a skydiver back in the '60s," writes a Reddit user. "There was a guy in his club who had the idea that he could test the axiom that 'cats always land on their feet' from freefall altitude, where he would fall with them and observe their self-righting behaviour. He had no interest in aiding their descent, just wanted to see how they behaved in freefall. In his plan, landing was the cats' problem, not his. Scientific impartiality, or some such thing. He took four stray cats up in a pillowcase for the jump. After exiting the plane, he turned the pillowcase inside out, releasing the cats. To his great surprise, all four cats attached themselves to his body immediately. With their claws. Given that cats have 18 claws each, he was punctured at least 72 times. More, probably, because he struggled vainly to remove the cats as he fell, but they were having none of it, and would reattach with even more conviction with every effort he made to pull them off. Presently, he was out of altitude, and had to turn his attention to opening the chute. Let's pause to do some math. A chute opening can generate as much as 3 Gs of force. The average cat weighs 8lb (3.6kg) at 1 G. At three Gs, this becomes 24lb (10.8kg) per cat. So when the chute opened, for a moment this guy had 72 razor sharp claws in his skin, each one being pulled down with a force of about one and a third pounds. That's 96lb of cat. He was sliced to ribbons, basically.

All four cats hung on through the chute opening, although the skydiver's shredded flesh allowed each one to slip several inches. Bleeding and in misery, the skydiver managed to make a safe, if rather rough, landing in a farm field. As soon as he hit the earth, all four cats ran off across the field, leaving him to lie there bleeding from his hundred or so wounds. He was the only member of the skydiving club displeased with the results of his experiment."

A worrying survey. Photo / Supplied
A worrying survey. Photo / Supplied

Soap opera lullaby soothes bubs

Australian researcher Peter Hepper reported in the medical journal The Lancet that fetuses often appeared to learn to recognise the theme tune of their mother's favorite soap opera. As a newborn baby, hearing this tune would then calm them down. He tested this hypothesis by playing the theme tune of the Australian soap Neighbours to a group of newborns whose mothers watched the show. Upon hearing it, he reported, six of the seven babies promptly adopted a "quiet alert state". (Source: News of the Weird)

Are you wearing the ugliest colour?
Are you wearing the ugliest colour?


Call it Pantone 448 C, or "opaque couché" this is apparently the ugliest colour imaginable. Described as reminiscent of "dirt" and "death" experts chose this shade of greenish brown to use in the packaging of Australian plain cigarette packs.
 
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Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz

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