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Lucie de Nooij | NIKHEF | The Netherlands

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Willem and physics

By studying animals, you can learn a lot about biology. But also about physics. I wanted to write about my cat for some time now and I write this on a very sad moment: our cat Willem (after the first king of Holland) has been found in the canal and is no longer with us.

Willem Willem in his carbon basketwas extremely fat. In this way he could himself warm in winter and cool in summer. Fat is an excellent insualtor for heat. Futhermore he had a lot of fur. This is probably for the  same reasons, air is also a good insulator. Besides, it is nice if people pet you, which they do more often if you have fur. If Willem jumped from the side to our boat (we live on a boat) he would put his tail straight up in the air for balance. The rotation angle of the tip of his tail is much bigger than from his body, so a deflection is much easier noticed. By standing on four legs, he made it much more difficult to push him over.  From a physics point of view, I cannot say anything about the stripes, but I always found it very hard to see him if he was hiding underneath the cars.

If you have a pet, I invite you to play my game once. Why do they do certain things? Why are things as they are? Nature works very beautifully.

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