When The Cats Are Away, The Theoretical Physicists Will Play

Fact: There’s a cat that is co-author of a theoretical physics paper.

in 1975, American mathematician and physicist Professor Jack H. Hetherington wrote an entire paper (on low temperature physics, if you were wondering) on a typewriter, only to be told by his supervisor that it would be rejected by the journal he was intending to publish it in – Physical Review Letters – as he was the sole author but had written “we” and “us” throughout.

Rather than re-type his whole paper, he decided to add a worthy co-author instead – namely one F.D.C. Willard. Which of course stands for Felix Domesticus Chester Willard. Which of course was his faithful Siamese cat.

The paper was accepted and published. F.D.C. Willard went on to publish, as the sole author, an article titled “Two-, Three- and Four- atom Exchange Effects”… and no, I don’t understand what that means either. Chester was regularly cited for his “useful contributions” and was even offered a physics fellowship at Michigan State University.

Three grueling years of Natural Sciences at Cambridge and there is some cat that is objectively a more successful scientist than I am. I mean what is the point.

‘Another one of Mr Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science’
Image under Creative Commons license, by The Found Animals Foundation, unedited.


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