Buttered cat paradox

A long long time ago, before the existence of the Internet as we know it today, there was the Usenet and living in it was the omniscient Oracle. Unfortunately I couldn’t experience of this era of innocence, when everything was fantastic and it was much easier to teach people to be kind with each other on-line. At that time, I had no idea of how computers work.
Many years after all this period of happiness, around 1998, I received the answer to all my questions in an email. This wise message was the translation of probably the most brilliant answer that the Internet Oracle gave to the eternal question of the Buttered cat paradox. It was the translation of a question answered in 1993 for The Usenet Oracle:

Oh omnipotent oracle! If there were a single molecule from a forgotten oraclelean 10,000-year-old fart I would not be worthy to inhale it!
Timorously, I ask you:
If you drop a buttered piece of bread, it will fall on the floor butter-side down. If a cat is dropped from a window or other high and towering place, it will land on it’s feet. But what if you attach a buttered piece of bread, butter-side up to a cat’s back and toss them both out the window? Will the cat land on it’s feet? Or will the butter splat on the ground?
And in response, thus spake the Oracle:
Even if you are too lazy to do the experiment yourself you should be able to deduce the obvious result. The laws of butterology demand that the butter must hit the ground, and the equally strict laws of feline aerodynamics demand that the cat can not smash it’s furry back If the combined construct were to land, nature would have no way to resolve this paradox. Therefore it simply does not fall.
That’s right you clever mortal (well, as clever as a mortal can get), you have discovered the secret of antigravity! A buttered cat will, when released, quickly move to a height where the forces of cat-twisting and butter repulsion are in equilibrium. This equilibrium point can be modified by scraping off some of the butter, providing lift, or removing some of the cat’s limbs, allowing descent.
Most of the civilized species of the Universe already use this principle to drive their ships while within a planetary system. The loud humming heard by most sighters of UFOs is, in fact, the purring of several hundred tabbies.
The one obvious danger is, of course, if the cats manage to eat the bread off their backs they will instantly plummet. Of course the cats will land on their feet, but this usually doesn’t do them much good, since right after they make their graceful landing several tons of
red-hot starship and pissed off aliens crash on top of them.
You owe the Oracle two slices of toast and a bag of kitty litter.

That was part of the final answer that I receive. The e-mail I received was more complex. It joined the theory above with the attraction of tomato sauce to white shirts and how space ships work. I’m not contesting the wisdom of the Oracle, I wouldn’t do that, but this woman did it. Eliane, aka Elly, says in her post that the Oracle answer is nonsese. How? Well, she start her theory this way:

Let us assume a normal Einsteinian universe (although a Euclidean universe would serve our purposes just as well, the Einsteinian is both cheaper and drinks are readily available.)
To test BFAD, one must procure:
Butter (margarine, for some reason, will not work)
A cat
A strapping device.
Let us assume that all of these are readily available.
Attach the strapping device to the cat.
No cat.
What has happened? We have run up against an a priori universal law. By a priori, we mean that it takes priority over either the Buttered Bread Principle or the Law of Feline Landings.
What happens is that the instant a strapping device and a cat occupy the same four dimensional space, the cat disappears. Now, this can easily be tested, and has been repeatedly. There are two schools of thought about this phenomenon.
The first holds that a cat and a strapping device are constituted out of different fundamental building blocks. According to this theory, a cat is constituted primarily of superquarks, (called meows by current theorists.) These superquarks demonstrate qualities that are both atomic (constituted as they are of groupings of normal quark particles) and feline (because these quarks exhibit characteristic of “charmed” or “lucky” particles.) Again, according to this theory, strapping materials are fashioned out of non-charmed particles. Bringing the two together causes one or the other to cancel out. One aspect of this theory that has not been sufficiently explained to date is the fact that it is always the cat, not the strapping device, that disappears.

And that’s just the beginning. There are two other theories that she explains in her post Around 100 and an unusual CAT Theory BFAD. Scholars of this theory also quote the excellent Uncyclopedia article Murphy’s law application for antigravitatory cats. As all the great scientific articles, it has equations, the demonstration of forces (as the image above) and visual demonstrations of the results. A precious article.
Based in all those facts, a cinema student called Kimberly Miner made a short animation film to explored the potential implications of the cat and buttered toast idea theory, but she used jelly in the place of butter – don’t try this at home! Her film Perpetual Motion won the Student Academy Awards of 2003. This short animation that clearly demonstrates how effective is theory can be watch at YouTube or bellow.

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2 Responses to Buttered cat paradox

  1. The Internet Oracle really did ponder your question deeply, but it was a difficult one which required a deep knowledge of physics.
    Thanks for posting this story. And the cat diagram is the icing on the cake!

  2. Bibi says:

    My pleasure. This is was one of the best things I receive in a email in 9 years on-line. 🙂

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