Reading Passage 1
Its raining cats and …
Since ancient times, people have marvelled at the fact that cats always manage to land on all four paws, no matter what height they fall from. It took scientists a considerable amount of research to explain this phenomenon. Only with the advancement of photography was it possible to find a plausible explanation when, at the end of the 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 the 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 tailless animals.
Having debunked the first myth, the scientists assumed that cats somehow push off from the experimenter’s hands to gain momentum, which allows them 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 the 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. Right after that, the cat bends its rear opposite to its front. It all means that a cat directs its front body part towards the ground, being able to clearly see what spot to choose for landing. They part their rear extremities to compensate for the inertia of their front and rear body. Finishing their landing, the feline extends its front limbs, stopping the body from rotating. As the rear extremities gradually reach their final position, the cat assumes a stance to ground with no harm to itself.
It was also established that if a cat is dropped with its limbs pressed to the body, it is unable to turn itself upright and land on its feet. 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, it will keep that stance until reaching the peak of the ascent, at which point it will then start to turn.
Scientists have also observed how a 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, the absence of hearing has no apparent impact on the way the cat acts while falling.
Another question on everyone’s mind 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, and at the same time, it has greater aerodynamic drag, resulting in a rate of fall of about 17 metres per second. To give you an idea of how fast or slow that is, a parachute jumper will reach a velocity of almost 50 metres 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 Olympic champion, Brian Phelps. As it turned out, it took the highly-trained man 0.3 seconds to do what cat manages to do 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 that scientists succeeded in solving this mistery. The picture of a cat in the state of 2 helped to study the phenomenon in more detail. One of the interesting findings was that cat’s 3 plays no role in 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. Cats always land on all fours.
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 successfully reproduce cat’s landing technique.