Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
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Scaling Wall Scaling




Columbia Pictures

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Sorry Spiderman, but you’re no gecko.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Zoologists at the University of Cambridge wondered:  Why can some animals with sticky feet scale walls while others can’t?

They studied 225 climbing animals of various sizes.  From mites and spiders to tree frogs and geckos.

They compared overall body size to the size of each animal's adhesive footpads.

And?  The bigger the animal, the more sticky surface-area it had underfoot.

Which makes intuitive sense:  It takes more tape to stick a heavy poster to the wall than a light one.

But for animals, sticky feet stop being practical after a certain size. 

Evolution topped out at geckos, nature’s largest adhesion-based climbers.  They have 200 times more sticky-foot-surface-area than mites.

So what about humans?  Forty percent of our body surface area would need to be sticky.

Translation?  Size 114 feet!

Not a good look, Spiderman.  Especially in those tights.