The Buttered Cat Paradox

It’s true that one of the defining features of melba toast is that it’s unbuttered. But while we’re talking toast history it’s interesting to note that quite a lot of mental energy has been expended (mostly by British scientists) on the question of why, when you drop a piece of toast, it always lands butter-side down. Most of us would just chalk the phenomenon up to Murphy’s Law, yet several serious theories have been advanced, most of them dealing with things like gravity, roll, pitch and yaw.

Of course several unserious theories have been advanced as well, the most famous being the so-called cat and buttered toast theory, also known as the buttered cat paradox. The basis of the theory is quite simple: toast always lands buttered-side down, cats always land on their feet. Thus, if you strapped a piece of buttered toast to a cat’s back and dropped it, theoretically, it should stop before it hit the ground, hover for a moment, and begin to spin. Such hovering, spinning toast/cats could then be employed for all sorts of important uses, from perpetual motion machines to renewable energy to high-speed monorail systems.

Laboratory trials to date have been disappointing.

8 thoughts on “The Buttered Cat Paradox”

  1. Oh, that’s amazing! I never heard of that before! It should be used at The Big Bang Theory show.

  2. Lab trials to date have been particularly disappointing to the graduate student tasked with applying the butter-toast-strap apparatus to the cat-with-claws apparatus.
    Perhaps there is a future in perpetually spinning extended claw cat machine?

    1. Cath, I have it on good authority that the DOD has just such a weapon in it’s arsenal, designed to help clear a battlefield. 30-40 cats with buttered bread fired horizontally, they zoom along at about knee heighth, claws and yowls… truly a devastating weapon (and not just for the opposing troops, I understand the ASPCA is delving into the results for the cats as well).

      1. Talk about withering fire. Glad the Geneva Convention expressly forbids these.

        Thanks, Roger!

        – Joe

      1. Laughed til I cried, Roger & Joe. I can picture all of this so clearly.

        My mother’s old cat would have adored being used as a weapon of Mass Shredding, especially if there was a bowl of ice cream waiting for him at the end. He was scrappy, but loving in his way.

        1. You know as well as anyone the dangers these sorts of unconventional arms pose, Cath. Thanks for the anecdote! 😉

          – Joe

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