Tuesday, August 28, 2007

'Spider-man' suit secret revealed

A "Spider-man" suit that enables its wearer to scale vertical walls like the comic and movie superhero could one day be a reality, according to a study.

Natural technology used by spiders and geckos could help a human climb the side of a building or hang upside down from a roof, the analysis suggests.

Professor Pugno also outlined three properties which a real Spiderman suit must demonstrate.

Firstly, and most obviously, it must be able to demonstrate strong adhesive properties. Secondly, the suit must be able to detach easily from a surface after it has stuck. Thirdly, the suit must, to some degree, be able to clean itself.

The latter requirement is considered important because dirt particles could get in the way, interfering with the adhesive properties of the suit.

One way to do it is to make the suit "superhydrophobic", so that it strongly repels water. As water droplets are forced away from the contact areas of the outfit, they should wash away particles of dirt.

This property could be achieved simply by altering the geometrical properties, or topology, of the surface.

"To have all these mechanisms working together is difficult, because they are in competition with one another," Professor Pugno told the BBC News website.

"But geckos and spiders provide a natural demonstration that this can be done."

He added that there were many interesting applications for adhesive suits, in areas ranging from space exploration to defence. The work could also aid the design of gloves and shoes for window cleaners working on tall skyscrapers.

But human muscles are very different to those of geckos, so people would probably suffer from muscle fatigue if they tried to stick to a wall for many hours."

Oh drat it all. So this means the whole story was nothing but the typical Brit...If things were different then things could be different...propensity to misunderstand the separation between science fiction and science fantasy.

No. I'm not explaining it to them. They'd feel terribly stupid for not picking up on it for themselves, and besides...

If they came to grips with reality we'd have no one to laugh at.

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