UNUSUAL AUTHOR OF PHYSICS PAPER

Fox News
11:09 PM
U.S.
World
Opinion
Politics
Entertainment
Business
Lifestyle
TV
Radio
More

Expand / Collapse search
Login
Watch TV
Hot Topics
Media’s Olympic disgrace
Couple’s sunken dreams
Too hot for Olympics?

Physics 2 days ago
The author of this physics paper is 7 years old (and also a cat)
By Brandon Specktor, Senior Writer | LiveScience
Facebook
Twitter
Flipboard
Print
Email

File photo: Two kittens lie in the ruins of the ancient Agora in Athens June 20, 2015. (REUTERS/Paul Hanna)
On April 1, 2014, the American Physical Society announced a landmark change in policy: All scientific papers authored by cats would henceforth become freely available to the public.
The announcement was a joke (it was April Fools’ Day), but the cat that inspired it was not. His name is Chester — better known to the scientific community as F.D.C. Willard, arguably the most famous cat in physics after Schrödinger’s.
In 1975, Chester/Willard’s name appeared alongside Michigan State University physics professor Jack Hetherington’s on an influential paperabout the low-temperature physics of helium-3 isotopes — versions of an element (helium, in this case) with different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei — published in the journal Physical Review Letters. Hetherington was Chester’s owner, and he had initially included the 7-year-old Siamese cat’s name on the paper to resolve a grammatical blunder. [The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]

As a colleague pointed out while editing the draft, Hetherington listed himself as the study’s sole author, yet he had nevertheless written the entire paper using the “we” pronoun. This was against the journal’s style rules, the colleague noted. Hetherington’s paper would surely be rejected if it wasn’t retyped.
Hetherington, however, was eager to submit his work. “Changing the paper to the impersonal seemed too difficult now that it was all written and typed,” Hetherington said in the book “More Random Walks in Science” (CRC Press, 1982). “Therefore, after an evening’s thought, I simply asked the secretary to change the title page to include the name of the family cat.”
Of course, Chester’s name was too well known to Hetherington’s friends and colleagues, so an alias would be necessary. He settled on F.D.C. Willard — F.D.C. being an acronym for Felis Domesticus Chester, and Willard being the name of Chester’s tomcat father.
And so, on Nov. 24, 1975, the paper co-authored by Hetherington and his cat was published in the 35th issue of Physical Review Letters. [Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs?]
Many of Hetherington’s colleagues knew about the ruse, it turned out, and few seemed to care. Michigan State’s physics department head, for one, embraced the feline deception. “The chairman… was able to inflate some statistic requested by the administration by including Willard among the published authors from the Physics department,” Hetherington wrote in a letter. “I’m not sure if it helped or hindered my own grant-getting efforts.”
Chester’s true identity was ultimately revealed when a student went looking for Hetherington with a question about the paper; when Hetherington couldn’t be found, the student asked to speak with Willard instead. “Everyone laughed and soon the cat was out of the bag,” Hetherington wrote.
Chester the cat subsequently retired from science, but his alias took on a life of its own. Several years later, a French paper on helium-3 appeared in the journal La Recherche under a single author’s name: F.D.C. Willard. (Apparently, Hetherington wrote, the actual research team could not agree on a version of the paper that satisfied them all, so they decided to credit America’s best-published cat instead.)
As of today, Chester’s paper on helium-3 has been cited more than 50 times, and a menagerie of nonhuman study authors have followed in his formidable paw-steps. In 1978, immunologist and apparent “Lord of The Rings” fan Polly Matzinger co-authored a paper with one Galadriel Mirkwood — the nickname of her trusty Afghan hound. More recently, in 2001, a paper on gyroscopes authored by A.K. Geim and H.A.M.S. ter Tisha appeared in the journal Physica B: Condensed Matter. Geim won a Nobel Prize in 2010 for co-discovering graphene. Tisha was his pet hamster.
Originally published on Live Science.

Trending in Science

The author of this physics paper is 7 years old (and also a cat)

Mystery behind mass grave of Viking warriors finally solved

Asteroid skimming past Earth may loom larger than exploding Russian meteor

Spain cracks secret code on King Ferdinand’s mysterious 500-year-old military letters

U.S.
Crime
Military
Education
Terror
Immigration
Economy
Personal Freedoms
World
U.N.
Conflicts
Terrorism
Disasters
Global Economy
Environment
Religion
Scandals
Politics
Executive
Senate
House
Judiciary
Foreign policy
Polls
Elections
Entertainment
Celebrity News
Movies
TV News
Music News
Style News
Entertainment Video
Business
Markets
Politics
Technology
Features
Business Leaders
Lifestyle
Food + Drink
Cars + Trucks
Travel + Outdoors
House + Home
Fitness + Well-being
Style + Beauty
Science
Archaeology
Air & Space
Planet Earth
Wild Nature
Natural Science
Dinosaurs
Tech
Security
Innovation
Drones
Computers
Video Games
Military Tech
Health
Healthy Living
Medical Research
Mental Health
Cancer
Heart Health
Children’s Health
TV
Shows
Personalities
Watch Live
Full Episodes
Show Clips
News Clips
About
Careers
College Students
Fox Around the World
Advertise With Us
Ad Choices
Email Newsroom
Media Relations
Other
Fox News Insider
Fox News Radio
Fox Nation
Fox News Go
Newsletters
Alerts
Podcasts
Apps & Products
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Instagram
RSS
Email
Fox News
Terms of Use Privacy Policy Closed Captioning Policy Help
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.

About joelsnell99

Who's Who in all U.S and U.K. Honoraries (Marquis) 450 publications in 80 venues DANA SPIRIT AWARD/2009 Oxford Roundtable St.Catherine's College Editor of FOCUS, a student Social Science Journal Author Snell Life Cycle Lonliness Curve Professor Emeritus - Kirkwood College Omicron Delta Kappa $1,000,000 in grants Online Editor for Psychology and Education.com Research Fellow - Arlington Institute Fellow International Biographical Association Outstanding Teacher at Kirkwood College Membership in numerous editorial boards or a reviewer of manuscripts Associate Editor - Psychology and Education Fellow American Biographical Association Co-Author of Snell-Green Professor Index Author of Snell Educator Effectiveness Index Contributer to FutureEdition.com Co-Author of Snell-Allen Medical Rank Index Deputy Director, International Biographical Association Fellow in Kennedy Foundation Co-Author of Snell-Allen Subjective Assessment Sex Role Index Honors >>> Positions and Courses Taught >>> jsnell@kirkwood.edu jsnell@socialvibes.net snelljennifer47@hotmail.com http://www.socialvibes.net Kirkwood http://www.dana.edu Research Council, Advisory Board, International Biographical Centre
This entry was posted in New Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.