14 Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry

By Amelia Hennighausen and Eric Roston - 2013-08-19T12:01:13Z

Photograph by Mark Moffett/Minden Pictures; Courtesy Michael Bartlett and Alfred J. Crosby/UMass Amherst

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Gecko Feet Adhesives

Geckos are born with the mythical ability to scale smooth walls and scamper upside-down across ceilings. The source of their grip is millions of microscopic hairs on the bottom of their toes. Each hair's attraction is minuscule, but the net effect is powerful.

Scientists estimate that the setae from the tiny toes of a single gecko could theoretically carry 250 pounds. The real trick is that by changing the direction of the setae, the grip is instantly broken: no sticky residues, no tearing, no pressure necessary.

A team of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, researchers has developed Geckskin, an adhesive so strong that an index-card-size strip can hold up to 700 pounds. A form of gecko tape could replace sutures and staples in the hospital. And the ability to don a pair of gecko-tape gloves and scale walls like Spiderman may not be far off. 

A Dumb Question about biomimicry.

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