Can Spider-Man Exist In Real-Life? Depends On Which Researcher You Believe!

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Photo: Theamazinspidermangame.com

In mid-January, scientists from University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology released some heart-breaking news for Spider-Man fans. The researchers said that the web-slinging hero could never exist in real-life. And it is not due to the lack of radioactive spiders, but because humans are simply too big to skitter up tall buildings.

For the study which was led by Dr. David Labonte, the team recorded the weight and footpad size of 225 different climbing animals. These include mites, spiders, tree frogs, geckos, and even bats. What they discovered is that the proportion of sticky pads increases disproportionately with weight. For example mites, the smallest creatures tested, required about 200 times less viscous body-surface-area than the larger geckos. This they believe, limits the size of the climbing animals because at some point, the amount of sticky surface needed becomes impractical.

How sticky footpad area changes with size (Photo: David Labonte)

According to the Cambridge team's calculations, humans would need 40% of their total body surface or about 80% of the front covered with sticky pads before they would be able to climb walls. Though they could go the way of the gecko and put them all on their feet, the study's senior author Walter Federie, estimates that they would have to be the equivalent of US shoe size 114 (European 145).

Geckos are the limit when it comes to climbing walls. (Photo: A. Hackmann & D. Labonte)

These findings led the scientists who published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on January 18, to conclude that "there is a size limit to sticky footpads as an evolutionary solution to climbing - and that turns out to be about the size of a gecko."

The researchers did state that the one way we could climb walls was by following the example of tree frogs. The smart amphibians have figured out how to increases the amount of 'glue' to compensate for the increased size. The means that the larger the frog, the stickier its footpad!

Photo: Standford.edu

But researchers at California's Stanford University were not willing to kill the dreams of every Spider-Man fan. A few weeks after the Cambridge study was released they issued a rebuttal to the claims with findings of their own.

In a video published on YouTube on January 27, mechanical engineering student Elliot Hawkes said one can bypass the issue if, "You don’t just copy the gecko, but instead you are clever about how you distribute your weight." He suggests climbing a wall using a device like the Gecko Glove.

Photo Credit: rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org

Created in 2014 by Hawkes as part of his dissertation or final year project, the Gecko Glove has 24 adhesive tiles that have been covered with tiny sawtooth-shaped polymer structures each measuring 100 micrometers in length. According to graduate student Eric Eason, who worked on the project with Hawkes, "When the pad first touches the surface, only the tips touch, so it's not sticky. But when the load is applied, and the wedges turn over and come into contact with the surface, that creates the adhesion force." With these ingenious gloves, anyone can attain Spider-Man-like wall scaling powers instantly.

The Stanford team says that the current prototype of the Gecko Glove can withstand up to 200 pounds. Even better, it has the potential to support up to 2000 pounds if the glove's size is increased! Though the Cambridge researchers have not issued a rebuttal yet, we have a feeling they are working on it - Stay tuned, for this argument is just getting interesting!

Resources:cam.ac.uk,Youtube.com, stanford.edu

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1195 Comments
  • basketballanime
    if this is absolutely amazing
    • upchurch
      upchurch3 months
      i watch the spider-man no way home it was sad i was the first one to see it in🇺🇲
      • toga224
        toga2249 months
        Spider Man ! I’m not a big fan but this is very interesting 🧐
        • spaceguy
          spaceguyabout 1 year
          How ever -super heroes means super villains too
          • x_goddess_x
            x_goddess_xabout 1 year
            Cool, a hero to help us from crimes!
            • nonopro
              nonoproover 1 year
              hii spiderman is cooll!!!
              • zaks
                zaksover 1 year
                Cool, I like the Spiderman movies.
                • lunar3clipse
                  lunar3clipseover 1 year
                  I once saw a creepy movies.
                  • lunar3clipse
                    lunar3clipse12 months
                    That Spiderman movie I saw when I was like five was really weird .
                • coolbooys
                  coolbooysover 1 year
                  How did they figure out how to do it
                  • toga224
                    toga2249 months
                    Maybe they watch to much jurassic Park
                  • ticktok
                    ticktokover 1 year
                    my little brother jaiden has a spider man themed room.
                    • coolbooys
                      coolbooysover 1 year
                      Awe that’s cute
                      • zaks
                        zaksover 1 year
                        My little brother has Spiderman posters in his room too.
                    • ticktok
                      ticktokover 1 year
                      Spider man is my idle I watch every movie.
                      • lunar3clipse
                        lunar3clipse12 months
                        It is weird how I idolize Spiderman and Iron Man even though I haven't watched a single whole superhero movie.