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
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Stick to It

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Insects: They creep, they crawl -- but could they teach us to stick around?

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

Beetles and geckos have super sticky feet. Their secret? Tiny mushroom-shaped patches! These patches are a million times smaller than the width of a single hair.  Maximumfeet stickiness! Can we recreate this in the lab? 

Stanislav Gorb at Kiel University in Germany studies stickiness.  Yes, that’s a thing! He set the goal high: make slippery rubber, sticky!  His team made patches of various shapes - including mushroom-shaped --on a rubber surface.  They tested stickiness by poking each shape with a very small bead.  The more force needed to poke it, the stickier the material.  

Results?  Of the different shapes tested, the mushroom-shaped patches were the stickiest!  This shape allows for more contact area with a surface. Talk about stick-to-itiveness! 

The scientists envision their mini-shroom sticky patches helping robots grab everyday objects. 

So next time you need to “stick the landing” – turn to your trusty neighborhood gekko!