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One Ticket to 'Cat Island,' Please

For some, an island filled with cats might sound like a nightmare, but to me, it's a dream come true. So my ultimate vacation destination might be Aoshima, a.k.a. "Cat Island." Located off the coast of Ehime in Japan, this mile-long island is home to 22 human residents—and around 120 cats. That's nearly 6 cats per person! 

Nine hundred people lived on Aoshima during World War II, but now, the island is occupied by "pensioners who didn't join the waves of migrants seeking work in the cities" after the war, according to NBC. The cats were introduced to the island to get rid of mice on fishermen's boats. They made themselves at home, multiplied, and became a tourist attraction, which doesn't necessarily thrill the residents. "If people coming to the island find the cats healing, then I think it's a good thing," 65-year-old fisherman Hidenori Kamimoto said. "I just hope that it's done in a way that doesn't become a burden on the people who live here."

There are no predators on the island, so the cats are free to roam as they please: Photos over at The Atlantic show the feral felines gathering in the harbor, begging and jumping for food, and hanging out at abandoned schools. Maybe, with enough encouragement, they'd be up for some cuddling.

In the immortal words of Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there." And to Rabbit Island, too.

[via NBC]

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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