“HTF?” with Dr. Kris #2: I can has sientifik methd?

This week’s question:

Dear Dr. Kris,
I has cat, and I r wundering. How teh fuck iz cats alwayz land on his feet?
– Curious About Killing Cats

Answer: Because the feet are on the bottom, you dumb shit! “But Dr. Kris,” you then ask, “how the fuck are they on the bottom?” and you’d be right. I see there’s no fooling you! I know the answer, but instead of just giving it to you, I’d like to teach you how to fish.1 And by “how to fish”, I mean, “the Scientific Method™“.

The Scientific Method is a method used to extract the science out of a thing for future use. Its origins are hazy, but I think it might be in the Bible. One uses it by starting at the first step, and then progressing through the later steps in order until one reaches the final step, at which point one stops. Here is the current form of the Method:

The Scientific Method™

  1. Explain in terms of magnetism (6th century BCE)
  2. Explain in terms of electricity (3rd century BCE)
  3. Explain in terms of atoms or chemistry (1803 CE)
  4. Explain in terms of Einstein (this includes lasers and relativity) (1901 CE)
  5. Explain in terms of space travel (1961 CE)

One can easily see the natural progression from simple to more complex explanations. The year in parentheses is the date that the step was developed and added to the Method. You might notice that the truth is not on that list. That is because science is a work in progress, and steps are added as new ideas occur to scientists. Science is not used to find truth, but rather to model reality in a way that is useful and meaningful to us as Americans. I personally suspect that in the future, the truth will be found to be Step 82, but some scientists suggest it may be as high as Step 42.

Let me walk you through the method, step by step. Strangely, the first step is not actually Step 1, but rather Step 03, which is not listed in any published versions of the Method. This is to keep it from seeming too complicated to the uninitiated. It is a common belief in education that it is best to keep things simple, and to do that we must often leave out vital pieces of information. In this case, we have left out the starting point: the Hypothesis. “Hypothesis” is Latin for “question”, and it is the driving force behind all scientific thought.

For example, in our situation, the hypothesis is

“why do cats always land on their feet?”

There’s a bit of latitude regarding the phraseology. “How come cats always land on their feet?” or “why don’t cats never not land on their feet?” are also workable hypotheses. Statements, such as, “I can’t figure out why cats always land on their feet,” are not compatible with the Scientific Method. Try adding a question mark.

Now that we have our hypothesis, we move through the steps as listed above, starting with…

Step 1 (magnets): Earth has a built-in magnetic field.4 Cats land on their feet. Therefore, cats must have magnets in their feet. It is obvious why this is the first step developed for the Method, as it is quite easy to ascribe any observed effect to the use of magnets. In general, any movement or force is caused by the presence of magnets, and any stability or rest in a system is accounted for by the absence of magnets. For example, a gun will only fire when aimed in the direction of a magnet. Human beings, by the way, are also pulled toward the ground, which we ascribe to subdermal magnetism, the same as cats. But as they can be observed to be pulled straight toward the ground regardless of orientation (they fall on their heads and butts a lot), we must assume the magnets are spread uniformly throughout the body (likely every couple of inches or so) rather than concentrated in the feet.

Step 2 (electricity): Electricity is the flow of small particles called elections. When an area is negatively charged, it means that many of these elections have gathered in one place. Even though elections are small and basically worthless, the mass of a negatively-charged area is still higher than one without the extra elections. Since we observe that cats always land on their feet, we can assume that their feet are negatively-charged, and—due to the extra elections—weigh more than the top of the cat and are affected more by Earth’s gravitational pull. Therefore, they hit the ground first. This is similar to those goddamn “bop bags” that you punch but can’t fucking knock over.6

Ah! But this exposes a flaw in our theory! If cats always weighed more in the feet, then they could never lay down!

Ancillary Lesson #1: Often in scientific research, our findings do not match our initial theories. When this occurs, and it’s too late to change our findings, we must make adjustments to our theory. In this case the solution is quite simple: cats must polarize when frightened.

(A note on steps 1 and 2: In 1864, Jim Maxwell invented electromagnetism, which combines the effects of electricity and magnetism into a single package, making the originals quite nearly obsolete. (Though there are some effects (such as thunder) not yet properly emulated in electromagnetism, so electricity and magnetism still have their uses, however limited, and can still be found in use in antiquated universities and specialized laboratories.) Most scientists have since combined steps 1 and 2 into a composite “Step 1.5”, but the list is often published as above, again to reduce confusion amongst halfwits. It is best to work your way through both steps while learning, though, and you can combine them once you’ve become proficient in the use of the Method.)

Step 3 (atoms): Atoms are a tough one because they’re very hard to see. But not impossible. If you look very close (like with a microscope), you’ll see that atoms—and therefore all of matter—are made up of hundreds of tiny moving parts! These parts are called corks. Now, you’d expect something with a name like that to float, but no, these corks are heavy, and some more heavy than others. And since a cat walks upright, we’d expect the heavier particles to settle to the bottom of the cat, to the feet, like in salad dressing. This is [what] makes the cat “bottom heavy”, which gives it stability, and makes it more likely to fall “feet first”.

Ancillary Lesson #2: While this theory seems logical, that is not enough for science; we must find a way to test it. One can’t (or shouldn’t, I guess) shake a cat like you can salad dressing, so what I did was get a cat and keep it upside-down (or “feet-up”) for several weeks, expecting that the heavier corks would re-settle along the spine. At least, that’s what I attempted to do, but what I found was that holding a cat upside-down for even a couple hours is horribly boring and essentially beyond my capabilities. I suspect this is God telling me I am not ready to learn this particular secret of his. That is something one must get used to if one wants to pursue scientific exploration. Sometimes God will stop you.

Step 4 (Einstein): If you stand on your head, it looks like the cat is falling up! It’s all relative! This is my favorite step, because really: anything goes. Be crazy, have fun! Everything’s true… from the right point of view!

Step 5 (space travel): I have no idea how space travel can explain the falling habits of cats (since, to my knowledge, there are no cats in space), but luckily in this case that’s fairly inconsequential, because the cat thing really is done with magnets.

Well, that does it for this week. If you have any questions about this week’s subject, that means you don’t understand it. Maybe you’re not cut out for science. You have to be smart to do science. I try to make it simple, but it’s not for retards.

Footnotes

1 There once was a saying, that if you give a man a fish, it would be okay, but if you teach him how to fish, that’s better, because what if he’s not hungry? The point being that fish don’t keep well, and just giving a guy a fish is creepy. It’s a metaphor.

2 With “aliens” and “FTL travel” being nos. 6 and 7, respectively.

3 While most people count starting from 1, scientists, like computers, count starting from 0. This is because of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states that “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. Science was a great leap forward in thought, so great that it pushed the first number back from 1 to 0 for those using it. The year 2012 is prophesied to bring about a similar leap in human understanding that is expected to push the first number to -1.

4 This can easily be verified at home by throwing metal objects through the air. Metals are attracted to magnets. A thrown coin (for example) will rise and fall in an arc called a parabola which traces the lines of magnetic force that Earth shoots out, starting at the North Pole and ending at the South Pole5. A thrown coin will always land south of where it originated. Non-metallic objects will fall following a similar path (though not always north-to-south) because gravity works in a similar way. The word parabola, incidentally, is a corruption of the phrase “pair o’ balls”, which was originally used to describe the shape made by stretching a circle out to encompass two smaller circles. The technical name for the resulting shape is eclipse. All curves found in nature can be described as a subsection of this shape, and are called conic sections after the most popular of them: the cone.

5 To some of my older readers, this may seem backwards. That’s because Earth’s magnetic field reverses (on average) every 250,000 years. Personally, I worry that rather than reversal of the magnetic poles, the next change may be from magnetism to electricity (now that we’ve unified the two), but many scientists think I worry too much. But imagine if there was lightning everywhere all the time! That would be… terrifying, to say the very least, and I plan to be amongst the first colonists on the moon to avoid the possibility. It’s not a chance I’m willing to take!

6 Some students get confused by this because they have been told that gravity’s acceleration is constant regardless of mass. This is true… but only in a vacuum. In schools they show a video of a brick and a feather being dropped in a vacuum, falling at the same rate, and hitting the ground at the same instant. This is a real effect, but it is not due to gravity. In a vacuum, without air resistance, everything moves at the same speed—the speed of light (c)—regardless of acceleration. (In space, those bop bags are easily bested.) But in Earth’s atmosphere, things can move at any speed (less than c), as evident in the proliferation of different speed limits you see when driving in your automobile.

About Renophaston
Renophaston is Kris, but after another manner.

3 Responses to “HTF?” with Dr. Kris #2: I can has sientifik methd?

  1. stert says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I have a very impotent question! I’ve been a born again christian my whole life, and i’ve been taught that i’m a christian because it is better than science, but the way you expain things (science) is a lot like the way my teachers explain things at my church! Are my church and parents secretly teaching me science!? Are they going to go to hell? What should I do about it?!

    Sincerely,
    Sleepless in Seatle.

  2. renophaston says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    Occasionally, someone will ask a question in the comments which deserves a post of its own in response. As yours isn’t one of those, I will answer it here, where no one will see the answer:

    It is a common myth that science and religion are incompatible, but in fact, they cannot exist without each other! It’s like oil and water, or, if you’ll pardon the pun, like God and Satan! What’s God without Satan? It’s impossible to know. Same with science. And it’s no coincidence that Satan and science start with the same letter. They’re obviously brothers. Twin brothers, even. Obviously. Which makes God science’s uncle. (I should really post a map of the Divine Family tree sometime…) But of course, family members should not have sex, and that’s why they can’t teach science in church. If your church is telling you things you suspect to be true, you have to report them to the NSA, who will torture them until they are dead (inside). You should also CC Jesus.

    I hope that answers your question.

  3. Madame Curious says:

    [Ramble alert!]
    Interestingly (to me), as I was reading Dr. Kris #2 (like reading tea leaves! HA!), actually I was reading and thinking and then reading and thinking creating a sort of reading thinking pattern, and during one of the thinking episodes I was thinking, ‘Man, I hope this guy doesn’t become a religion, or do I?’ (Sometimes I question my thinking. Usually I don’t though.) And after rereading what I just wrote, I’m thinking, ‘Can a guy become a religion?’ But I decided to read the comments before posting my comment and that’s where I saw that someone else’s, namely Stert in Seattle’s, brain was also tickled by the religion feather. So if you do start a religion, will that give you tax exemption powers?
    MC
    PS Thanks for making science fun again. More like fun “ny”!

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