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Pets & Animals Discuss Cats may have a rudimentary grasp of physics, study finds at the General Discussion; When it comes to cats and physics, most people don't get much further than Erwin Schrödinger and his gedankenexperiment involving ...

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Old 06-19-2016, 07:51 PM
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Default Cats may have a rudimentary grasp of physics, study finds

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When it comes to cats and physics, most people don't get much further than Erwin Schrödinger and his gedankenexperiment involving a feline locked in a box. But research from Saho Takagi and her colleagues at Kyoto University in Japan suggests that cats don't just star in physics thought experiments, they may also have an innate understanding of (some of) the physics, too.

We're not suggesting that SpaceX or Blue Origin is looking to hire feline rocket scientists any time soon or that the cats know what to do with Schrödinger's wave function. But Takagi's study provides evidence that our furry little friends might have a better understanding of causal relationships than previously thought, and they may also have a "rudimentary understanding of gravity."

The study involved 30 Japanese cats—eight house pets and 22 residents of cat cafes. The researchers tested the cats using a plastic box containing some iron balls. Normally the balls were free to rattle around in the container, falling out when the box was inverted. But on the opposite side to the box's open end, they added an electromagnet. When turned on, the magnet stopped the balls from rattling or falling out.

The cats were tested individually. Once the researchers had a cat's attention, they first shook the box (horizontally, so nothing fell out) for five seconds. Then the box was inverted for five seconds, allowing the balls to drop out (or not, if the magnet was activated). Finally, the box was placed upright on the floor in front of the cat, which was free to investigate it for 15 seconds. Throughout, the cats' activity was recorded on a pair of video cameras for later analysis.

Each cat was tested under four different conditions. Sound/Object, where the balls rattled and fell out when the box was turned over; Sound/No object, where the balls could rattle but were prevented from dropping out; No sound/Object, where the balls didn't rattle but did fall out; and finally No sound/No object.

Only the first and last of these conditions are consistent with the world as we think cats understand it—we assume they don't know about electromagnetism or the sneakiness of human scientists. Takagi hypothesized that the feline participants would be more interested in the two incongruent conditions (Sound/No object and No sound/Object).

As anyone with cats can probably predict, during the shaking phase the test cats were much more interested when the box rattled than when it was silent (determined by measuring the time each cat looked at the shaken box). But in the second phase, the incongruent conditions are what drew their attention, when the balls either failed to materialize after rattling about or dropped to the floor despite not making a sound.

In other words, the cats were inferring that a rattling box should deposit balls when inverted and a silent box shouldn't. When that wasn't the case, their attention was piqued. The authors also suggest this may provide proof that cats have some understanding of gravity.

Before you rope your kitty into helping out with Kerbal Space Program, take heed. Although the study is based on the results of 30 individual felines, another 15 had to be excluded from analysis, mainly because they were too scared or too disinterested in the entire process. Not every cat is a budding physicist, it would appear.
Cats may have a rudimentary grasp of physics, study finds | Ars Technica

One of my cats recognized the treat container I pulled her treats from was up on the armoire. She jumped on top of the armoire, knocked the treat container to the ground, then immediately jumped down after it sniffing around the container.
She seemed disappointed there wasn't anything of value around the container (it stayed closed).


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Old 06-19-2016, 10:21 PM
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Default Re: Cats may have a rudimentary grasp of physics, study finds

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Cats may have a rudimentary grasp of physics, study finds
That puts them above most public school 10th graders...
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Old 06-20-2016, 07:26 AM
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Default Re: Cats may have a rudimentary grasp of physics, study finds

Pavlov's cats.

An event happens often enough, they come to expect it.

Sorta like me, getting up at 3:00am to feed them, and then they figure out if they yowl enough, I will get up and feed them.
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Old 06-27-2016, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: Cats may have a rudimentary grasp of physics, study finds

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Originally Posted by GottaGo View Post
Pavlov's cats.

An event happens often enough, they come to expect it.

Sorta like me, getting up at 3:00am to feed them, and then they figure out if they yowl enough, I will get up and feed them.
Yeah, I have one that does the same thing at 3:30am. One cat with 8 dogs, Tiger rules the roost.
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