CHICAGO—A group of scientists from the University of Chicago raised new questions during an international nephology conference held there Tuesday, speculating what would happen if physical contact were initiated with a cloud, the weather phenomenon described as a visible mass of condensed water suspended in the troposphere.

"It might feel like a marshmallow or like cotton candy," said geophysical sciences department chair Michael J. Foote, Ph.D., who in July received a $10 million National Science Foundation grant to analyze the effects of clouds on the human somatosensory system. "We know that it might be sticky. But it could also feel fluffy or creamy."

While Foote claimed that a person would likely attain instantaneous unconsciousness if laid horizontally atop a cumulus cloud, opposing scientists argued that a person would fall right through.