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Secret of Spider-man Suit Revealed

Physicists have found the formula for a "spider-man" suit, drawing inspiration from the amazing wall-clinging ability of geckos, and the ingenious properties of velcro.

In a paper for the Institute of Physics' Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, Professor Nicola Pugno has described how a combination of adhesive forces could be used to make a suit to support the weight of a human body.

The suit would be covered with molecular-sized hooks, which would allow the wearer to cling to a surface and detach themselves easily. This would be used in conjunction with van der Waals forces, the microscopic forces that allow geckos to hang upside-down from ceilings. "There are many interesting applications for our theory, from space exploration and defence to designing gloves and shoes for window cleaners of big skyscrapers" said Pugno.

The theory is all the more significant because, as with spiders' and geckos' feet, the hooks and hairs are self-cleaning and water-resistant. This means that they will not wear or get clogged by bad weather or dirty surfaces and will be able to withstand some of the harshest habitats on earth, including the deep sea.

There are a number of problems that will need to be overcome before the spiderman suit becomes a reality. For example, because human muscles are different to a gecko's, research would have to be done to ensure that the suit can be used without causing muscle fatigue.

"However now that we are this step closer, it may not be long before we see people climbing up the Empire State Building with nothing but sticky shoes and gloves to support them" added Pugno.

External Links:

Institute of Physics Press Release

BBC News Story

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