[oxfordgamers] The Gecko lives!
- From: CWilson@xxxxxxxx
- To: oxfordgamers@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 12:40:16 -0400
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Forget Spider-Man -- Gecko Man may be breathing down your neck with gloves made of sticky hairs. Researchers in Britain said on Monday they had developed a new type of adhesive based on the uniquely sticky feet of geckos. And yes, some day people may be able to use it to climb walls. The lithe little lizards can climb glass ceilings and perch happily for hours on the smoothest walls. Late last year, U.S. researchers reported they had found that tiny little hairs and not any kind of chemical glue help the animals cling so well. Andre Geim of the University of Manchester in Britain, who developed the tape, said it is a more realistic model for people who may want to imitate nature than spiders. "The mechanism used by spiders (and flies) for climbing walls is not scalable while the gecko mechanism is," Geim said in an interview conducted by e-mail. "This offers a unique opportunity for scaling the gecko's invention up for the use with much heavier objects, even to the extent that humans can use it (e.g., for rock-climbing?)," said Geim, who reports his finding in the June issue of the journal Nature Materials. "In this sense, Spider-Man is a fiction, the non-science one and will ever remain in comics. On the other hand, Gecko Man ... now it seems to be rather close to reality." Biologists had for years assumed that geckos used something akin to glue. But close examination with electron microscopes shows they have millions of tiny hairs called setae. A seta is only about 100 micrometers long -- about the width of two human hairs. Each seta ends with 1,000 even tinier pads at the tip. One seta can lift the weight of an ant. A million setae, which could easily fit onto the area of a dime, could lift a 45-pound child and a gecko using all of its setae at the same time could support 280 pounds. "If human palms were covered by this adhesive material, it would support the weight of an average human," wrote Geim, who worked with colleagues at the Institute for Microelectronics Technology in Chemogolovka, Russia. He said they had only been able to make 0.16 square inch of the stuff so far. It is very expensive to make, Geim said, and the plastic backing his team used to make the tape is not very durable.
Other related posts:
- » [oxfordgamers] The Gecko lives!