Reading Passage 1
Its raining cats and …
Since the ancient times people marvelled at the fact that cats always manage to land on all four paws no matter the height they fall from. It took scientists a considerable amount of research to explain this phenomenon. Only with the advancement of photography it became possible to find a plausible explanation, when at the end of nineteenth century french physiologist Marei took pictures of falling cats in different stages of their descent. These pictures were later presented to the Academy of Science for further examination. Specifically, it was ascertained that cat’s tail which was previously believed to play an important role in the phenomenon doesn’t help in any way. The latter was proven by a series of experiments with tail-less animals.
Having debunked the first myth the scientists assumed that cats somehow push off from experimenter’s hands to gain momentum which allows to change body position in midair. This technique is somewhat similar to what springboard athletes use. This proposition however got rejected as well, proven wrong by a series of photoshoots. Cats were able to alter their body position even when simply thrown. At the beginning of twentieth century it became clear that they are able to do so by actively moving their paws and entire body.
At the beginning of their fall a cat moves its body so that the front half is turned to the right. This way the front limbs are moved closer to their head while the rear extremities are drawn as far as they can be. The rear part of cat’s body bends toward the opposite direction. It all means that a cat directs its front body part towards the ground, able to see clearly which spot to choose for landing. They part their rear extremities to compensate the inertia of front and rear body.
Finishing their landing, the feline extends its front limbs stopping the body from rotating. Rear extremities gradually reach their final position, the cat assumes a stance that ensures safe landing, bends its back and grounds.
It was also established that if a cat is dropped with its limbs pressed to the body then it is unable to turn itself upright and land on all fours. As the technology of photo shooting advanced it became possible to observe the process in more detail. Among other findings it was noted that if a cat is propelled upwards with its paws facing up then it will keep that stance until reaching the peak of the ascent, at which points it will then start to turn.
Scientists have also observed how cat’s fall is affected by its sense organs. If the cat is blindfolded then it will display lower proactivity during the fall. It looks rather odd and awkward, and if the cat in question is put in a spinner prior to being thrown then it confuses up and down, landing on its back. Interestingly, absence of hearing has no apparent impact on the way the cat acts while falling.
Another questions on everyone’s lips is how cats manage to stay alive after falling from great heights. The answer to this is rather simple — a cat weighs much less than a human at the same time it has greater aerodynamic drag resulting in a rate of fall of about 17 meters per second. To give you an idea how fast or slow that is, a parachute jumper will reach a velocity of almost 50 meters per second. What is more surprising though is that a cat falling off a higher altitude has more chances to stay alive, supposedly because it relaxes its muscles mid-fall, spreading its body to create better aerodynamic resistance.
Some people have tried to imitate the movements of a falling cat to land upright. One of the daring ones was a high-board diver and an Olympic champion Brian Phelps. As it turned out it took the highly-trained man 0,3 seconds to do what cat manages to in just 0,12. Phelps managed to turn his body upright midair after being propelled with his belly pointing down. No other person managed to reproduce said trick.
Complete the summary.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.
Cat’s ability to land on all fours has always fascinated people. It was only with a breakthrough in 1 ______ (photography) that scientists succeeded in solving this mistery. The picture of a cat in the state of 2 _____ (falling/descent) helped to study the phenomenon in more detail. One of the interesting findings was that cat’s 3 _______ (tail) is the only limb not aiding it to turn upright.
Complete the flow-chart
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
9. A cat will always land on all four legs.
10. Cat’s aural abilities have no impact on successful landing.
11. Even the biggest of falls leave cats uninjured.
12. Longer falls increase cat’s chances to land on four legs.
13. No man managed to imitate cat’s landing technique.