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Falling Cats: using physics to resolve an apparent biological paradox

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Presentation on theme: "Falling Cats: using physics to resolve an apparent biological paradox"— Presentation transcript:

1 Falling Cats: using physics to resolve an apparent biological paradox Some rights reserved: 1© J. A. Bolker and D. C. Meredith, UNH, 2009

2 Cats who fall >7 stories survive… Better than humans who fall the same distance; and Better than cats falling <7 stories! WHY? Diamond, J How cats survive falls from New York skyscrapers. Natural History 98:20-26 Data are based on veterinary records of accidental falls - not deliberate defenestration of felines. 2© J. A. Bolker and D. C. Meredith, UNH, 2009

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4 Explanation = physics: How hard you hit depends on how fast you are going…which depends on (a) your mass, and g; (b) how long you have been accelerating and (c) your maximum possible falling speed (a.k.a. terminal velocity). terminal velocity is lower for cats; they reach it sooner; and once they do, they adjust their behavior. 4© J. A. Bolker and D. C. Meredith, UNH, 2009


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