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A Physics Lesson: Why Cats Land on Their Feet (Usually)

Why do cats (usually) land on their feet? In the six-minute video below, missile engineer and last-name-avoider Destin explains...and includes some real stunt-cat dropping photographed with a high-speed camera. He also has archival footage of Air Force researchers dropping cats on parabolic flights, which helps explain the physics behind the phenomenon. As far as I can tell, no cats were harmed in the making of this video -- though they seemed, at the very least, displeased.

For some deeper math, check out the paper Gauge Theory of the Falling Cat (PDF) by Richard Montgomery. Warning: it involves differential equations.

See also: The Buttered Cat Paradox and Feline Physics: Why Cats Can Survive Falls From Great Heights.

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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What's the Saltiest Water in the World?
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Saltwater is common around the world—indeed, salty oceans cover more than two-thirds of the globe. Typical saltwater found in our oceans is about 3.5% salt by weight. But in some areas, we find naturally occurring saltwater that's far saltier. The saltiest water yet discovered is more than 12 times saltier than typical seawater.

Gaet’ale is a pond in Ethiopia which currently holds the record as the most saline water body on Earth. The water in that pond is 43.3% dissolved solids by weight—most of that being salt. This kind of water is called hypersaline for its extreme salt concentration.

In the video below, Professor Martyn Poliakoff explains this natural phenomenon—why it's so salty, how the temperature of the pond affects its salinity, and even why this particular saltwater has a yellow tint. Enjoy:

For the paper Poliakoff describes, check out this abstract.

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