Although the comic book hero known as “Spider-Man” is a beloved American icon, I have never met fan of Spider-Man who was crazy enough to consider that the supernatural abilities which Spider-Man demonstrates could happen in real life, and to a real person. However, it would seem as though there are plenty of people who would like to get to the bottom of this mystery, and that includes scientists as well. Recently a group of zoologists put the question to bed by officially announcing that science does not allow for a Spider-Man to exist in reality. This conclusion came as a result of an expensive experiment involving numerous scientists.
To put it simply, and according to the researchers themselves, humans are too large to skitter vertically along a tall building, let alone any structure that does not have handlebars. The study was led by Dr. David Labonte and a team of skilled engineers and physicists.
The researchers discovered that the total amount of an animal’s body surface, and its relationship with the weight of the animal were the deciding factors in whether or not an organism would be able to climb a structure vertically. For example, humans would need forty percent of their total body surface to be covered with sticky pads in order to climb a building vertically. In order to further illustrate this phenomena the smallest insect tested should be mentioned, which was the mite. This little bug required two hundred times less vacuous surface area than the much larger gecko in order to successfully adhere to vertical surfaces. If humans could manage to put all the sticky surface onto their feet, then humans would require a shoe size of one hundred and fourteen. A bug’s ability to seemingly defy gravity is quite impressive to us, but that is not a talent we will ever be able to fake.
Have you ever witnessed a spider fail to vertically climb a particular material? If so, what type of material would not allow the spider to adhere to its surface?