The Skull in the Stars blog writes about the practice, back when, of cat turning:
One thing I’ve learn from studying the history of science is that scientists are human beings. Often incredibly weird, weird human beings. For example: in the mid-to-late-1800s, an exciting era in which the foundations of electromagnetic theory were set and the electromagnetic nature of light was discovered, a number of the greatest minds in physics were also preoccupied with a rather different problem.
It is almost impossible to overstate the achievements of James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), widely regarded as the greatest theoretical physicist of the 19th century. His greatest achievement was the final unification of electricity and magnetism by the completion of a set of mathematical equations that are now known asMaxwell’s equations, and the brilliant deductive leap that these equations demonstrate that light itself must be an electromagnetic wave. Maxwell also made major contributions to thermodynamics and the related kinetic theory of gases, and if these were not enough he also made the first demonstration of color photography. Ever.
He also dropped cats.…
The Annals of Improbable Research explored several aspects of cat dropping in the special Animal Behavior issue, in 1998. Especially pertinent: the article “Does a Cat Always Land on Its Feet?”
BONUS (possibly unrelated): The study:
“Cat Bite Infections of the Hand: Assessment of Morbidity and Predictors of Severe Infection,” Nikola Babovic, BA, Cenk Cayci, MD, Brian T. Carlsen, Journal of Hand Surgery, Volume 39, Issue 2 , Pages 286-290, February 2014.
BONUS (only metaphorically related): The dead cat bounce in the stock market