Satyajit Ray received his Lifetime Achievement Oscar on his deathbed. The only Oscar most of us can probably get on ours is this feline fatale:
Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.
Note that the above is a CNN story. I Can Has CNN, can’t I?
Wait, what about a scientific explanation? Well, at present, there’s none:
No one’s certain if Oscar’s behavior is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behavior of the nurses who raised him.
Nicholas Dodman, who directs an animal behavioral clinic at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and has read Dosa’s article, said the only way to know is to carefully document how Oscar divides his time between the living and dying.
If Oscar really is a furry grim reaper, it’s also possible his behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, Dodman said.
Not surprisingly, this research was first published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For more information on the various research methodologies and statistical techniques used in the papers of this journal, read an enlightened surgeon’s lucid explanation.
No wonder then that the number of students enrolling for medical schools in the US is increasing, while the numbers for computer science is decreasing. Scholarly students are attracted by the complex challenges involved in studying cat behavior and such distinguished journals, rather than wasting time in trivial things like solving computer programming puzzles.