Noel knew that a cat’s scratchy tongue helps the cat groom its fur. But she wondered how exactly it works. “I decided to take a closer look,” she says.
First, Noel filmed a cat’s tongue up close while the cat was licking itself. She saw that the tongue was covered in tiny hook-like spines. These spines catch tangles in the cat’s fur and tease them apart.
Next, Noel used powerful X-rays to create a see-through image of a single spine. She saw that the spine was hollow, like a cup. This shape allows the spines to scoop up saliva and spread it over the cat’s fur, washing out germs and dirt.
Noel realized she could use this knowledge to invent a hairbrush that spreads liquid while it brushes. People could use it to spread dye through their hair, shampoo their pets, or even scrub stains out of a rug.