August 30, 2005

Spiderman, For Real?
— Ace

I always thought it was kinda dumb that Spidey just grew some little hairs on his hands and suddenly could stick to walls.

Turns out that's one superpower that science may soon duplicate. Attempting to mimic the surface-touching maximizing property of a gecko's feet, scientists have discovered "nanotech velcro," growing hairs at least 200 times as adhesive as found in nature.

Robots' hands will, hopefully, be able to grab items without dropping them or crushing them.

And a cool pair of Spiderman-gloves might just allow you to ascend walls.

In a recent issue of the journal Chemical Communications, the team reported that it had indeed produced synthetic hairs, with 200 times the sticking power of the ones made by nature.

Although the scientists have tested only minute amounts of the material, they estimate that if its properties hold up on a larger scale, a dime-size patch of it could support 2 to 22 pounds, depending on how densely the hairs were packed.

"Think of it almost like nano-Velcro," said Ali Dhinojwala, an associate professor of polymer science at the University of Akron.

The synthetic hairs - one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair - are made of highly flexible carbon cylinders, or nanotubes, embedded in a plastic base like bristles in a hairbrush.

The tubes are strong and practically unbreakable, Professor Dhinojwala said, adding that other groups had tried making the tubes of plastic, but it turned out to be too weak.

He said people had asked him whether the new material could be fashioned into gloves and shoes for rock climbers.

"I'm a little hesitant on going too fast," Professor Dhinojwala said. "Nature has had more time than we have had. I would hesitate to extrapolate. But the imagination is there."

The odd thing about science and engineering is that it keeps advancing in unexpected ways. You think about a cure for cancer or a flyin' car-- it doesn't give you that. But then it develops Spideygloves.

Thanks to Michael.

Posted by: Ace at 12:27 PM | Comments (9)
Post contains 338 words, total size 2 kb.

1 Dude, admit it: you used the words "nanotech velcro" as honey-bait for the (Non-)Traffic Santa.

I'm on to you and your cunning attempt at chicanery, Mr. of Spades.

Dave at Garfield Ridge

Posted by: Dave at Garfield Ridge at August 30, 2005 12:35 PM (y1hCN)

2 Spiderman gloves.

Don't use the urinal while wearing them.

Posted by: the daily missive at August 30, 2005 12:45 PM (0g1c+)

3 Don't use the urinal while wearing them.

Wouldn't be a problem. The bond can be instantly broken by changing the angle of the fibers, so gekkos have no trouble running straight up a glass window or upside down across a ceiling without falling or breaking stride.

So, for instance, Brewfan could safely wear his Spidey gloves even while he was, erm, pleasuring himself with no fear that his hand would get stuck in an awkward place.

Posted by: Michael at August 30, 2005 01:00 PM (pRtzm)

4 I suppose the opposite is true as well. Let's say you managed to slap your Spidey gloves onto an appealing portion of Lipstick's anatomy. If you maintained a constant grip, there's no way she could get them off (well, other than by slapping the shit out of you).

The ramifications of this technology just boggle the mind.

Posted by: Michael at August 30, 2005 01:09 PM (pRtzm)

5 Spideygloves, big deal.

Get back to me when they invent Spidey Webshooters.

I mean, gimme something I can *use*, for pete's sake.

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at August 30, 2005 01:19 PM (BK97c)

6 Science marches on.

You know, whenever I read one of these breakthrough stories, I always stop and wonder to myself the obvious question: 'How will this affect George Clooney?' or "What's George doing right now? What's he wearing? or 'What would it be like if we went out to lunch together?' Would I get nervous and laugh at his jokes too loudly? Would that bother him or is he used to people getting all flustered around him and he'd let it slide? (He really seems like the kinda guy who'd let it slide) Would he get me?

I think that lunch would be cool, and I wouldn't be all 'stalkerey.' (I bet he hates that.) No, it'd be just like two old friends having lunch. Or more. However he wanted to take things, it's cool. I'm there. Not gonna push it.

Anyway. Science is amazing.

Posted by: Mr. Spades at August 30, 2005 01:50 PM (kUNrb)

7 "So, for instance, Brewfan could safely wear his Spidey gloves even while he was, erm, pleasuring himself with no fear that his hand would get stuck in an awkward place."

awkward place = Mrs. Michael's bearded clam during a three-way with the pool boy

Posted by: BrewFan at August 30, 2005 03:47 PM (95UaF)

8 The possibilities are endless.

Verticle dwarf toss!

"drop proof" kitchen containers so you won't get blown up cooking your ice/crank when you drop a jar full of acetone/ether...

"time out" hangers for dealing with your maniacal little hell spawn street urchins - stick'em to a wall in a closet for 15 minutes and they'll calm right down.

Sheets that'll stay put on the water bed when you're getting jiggy with some of that Jane Fonda cooking oil and your significant other.

This is going to revolutionize society for sure.

Posted by: Tony at August 31, 2005 12:08 AM (dYcZw)

9 Highly crafty and intriguing article. It highlights the intricate relationship between the subject and its essence. It is highly informative.

Posted by: Nick at August 31, 2005 12:21 AM (lul6E)

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