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Cat Guides Lost Hiker Back to Safety in Swiss Alps

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Dogs get a lot of credit for their heroic deeds—which range from sniffing out bombs to rescuing soldiers—but one friendly feline in the Swiss Alps is showing cats can be valiant, too. The Telegraph reports that a Hungarian hiker was exploring the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland when he got turned around. The man was saved when an adorable black-and-white cat showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, and showed him the way back to civilization.

The hiker, Reddit user sc4s2cg, wrote about his experience recently on the site, though the hike itself occurred in 2013. He explained that he got confused when the road back to the village was closed. To make matters worse, the man hurt his ankle and was hobbling along at a slow pace. Fortunately, the cat showed up and led him back toward his hostel, pausing periodically to wait for him to catch up.

“He was just wandering around, found me while I was resting from a hike,” the lucky adventurer explained on Reddit. “Then he was walking and kept looking at me to follow, led me straight to the path that would take me back down to the valley.”

Reddit seems to have connected a few of the feline's friends. According to the thread, the furry guide belongs to The Mountain Hostel, and other users have also made his/her acquaintance during their time in Gimmelwald. Based on the excited comments, the region might want to consider hiring the animal as a tourism ambassador.

As for the lost hiker, he recorded his adventures with the heroic feline in the video below, in which he “chats” with the chat as the two wander toward the village. When they finally reach civilization, the cat, its mission completed, takes off, and the hiker bids it farewell, saying “Till we see each other again.”

[h/t Telegraph]

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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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