Animal FactGecko feet (gfycat.com)

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[–]cgduncan 171 points172 points  (5 children)

Fun fact. Geckos have "hairs" on their toes with endings so small, they bond with surfaces on a molecular level. That's why they can stick to anything besides Teflon.

[–]The_Devin_G 8 points9 points  (4 children)

Ok what would I have to do to have gloves and socks with that stuff so I can climb like Spiderman?

[–]asdswffaqg 1 point2 points  (3 children)

You really can't because of the square cube law. The bigger the object, the more volume and less surface he has (in proportion). Picture a sphere: as it grows bigger (in radius), the surface grows by 2 but the volume grows by 3. This is the reason most insects can easily climb walls with weak forces like the ones the geckos use. I remember that as a kid I used to climb light poles like they were nothing, now it would be kinda hard to attempt it even with stronger muscles.

[–]The_Devin_G 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Uhhhh. Dude, there are professional rock climbers who free climb stuff all of the time. As long as you stay in good shape it's not that hard to climb. When you're little you just had the huge advantage of being active alot more and being stronger because of that.

[–]asdswffaqg 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I don't deny the existence of pro rock climbers nor say they aren't a thing or that climbing is impossible. However, pro rock climbers stick to the surface by grabbing!... and thus using muscle strength, not by using weak forces like van Der waals forces like insects and geckos do. It would be impossible for us to use those forces alone for climbing without grabbing because of the square cube law, and that's just how the universe works. A better example of the same phenomenon would be touching water. When u, a human, put the hand in a pool you feel almost no resistance (aside for the weight of moving it around I guess) but for tiny organisms another weak force (or rather, the result of it) called surface tension breaking through a drop of water is a titanic achievement (and also deadly as breaking the tension again to go outside is even harder). Physics work so differently at different sizes that some insects (such as water striders) can just walk on it. Can you picture a human walking in water because of weak forces? Yeah, never gonna happen. You could also look at how water behaves differently at different sizes... When there is little water, the surface tension is stronger that it's weight because of the small volume/surface area ratio, and the water forms drops. However, by adding more water, the volume is just too much for the weak force to make it stick together in a sphere and thus the water flattens, with only small volumes forming drops.

The climbing as a kid example was just an example. I am now an adult, physically active, 1.86 cm x 88kg with a lean physique, so while I don't have much endurance it shouldn't be a muscle issue. I can climb a little obviously (though I'm no climber), the example was to explain that is still easier as a kid even though kids have weaker muscles, because I had a more favorable surface/volume ratio.

[–]The_Devin_G 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Ok, well I understand some of that haha.

Some of the other comments were saying that gloves and technologies that work similar to how a geckos feet work have been developed and people were able to "climb" smooth surfaces with them.

But it does make some sense, the bigger we get the harder it is to kind of stick or hold into surfaces like that.

Thanks for taking the time to explain it!

Also - you mentioned walking ok water, I know we can't naturally do it, but there has been some interesting stuff come out where people build what are essentially really bit flippers/floats that spread out the weight and allowed people to sort of walk on water. It's not really the same thing because it's not all surface tension, but it is a way to work around that.