Episode 16

Secret Kitty


Secret Kitty

Published on July 24, 2009

The bookending music is “Ptah, the El Daoud” from Alice Coltrane’s album of the same, very-1970 name. Then there are two, slightly chopped up songs from Broadcast (both on “Work and Non-Work”), Phantom and The Book Lovers.

You can read about Acoustic Kitty (yes, that’s actually what they called the project) all over the place–there were lots of news articles when the files were declassified several years ago. However, my favorite thing on the web is an actual declassified document. Even after the cat dies and the mission’s a total failure, the scientists clearly feel pretty awesome: despite being “convinced that the program would not lend itself to [their] highly specialized needs,” they declare victory in the quest to train a cat to go short distances, even if they can’t control to where, and proclaim it “a remarkable scientific achievement.” To which I say: way to go. You spent millions of 1966 dollars. Sliced open live animals. Inserted wires and microphones and zapped them with electrical charges and now they can go short distances. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

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