Superhuman speed and strength still may be out of reach, but scientists have devised a way to scale buildings like Spider-Man.
Popular Mechanics reports that researchers have developed gecko-inspired adhesives gloves that can lift a 200-pound person up walls. Well, certain walls.
"To work, the surface you're climbing needs to be relatively smooth; like glass, varnished wood, polished stone, or metal," says Elliot Hawkes, the Stanford mechanical engineer who led the research team, "but you can attach and detach with very little effort, and to make [the gloves] stick all you have to do is hang your weight."
You can see Hawkes demonstrate the gloves in the video below.
While the adhesive could certainly benefit costumed crime-fighters (although not in the rain, apparently), it could have far-reaching applications: Hawkes says his team is working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to attach the dry-adhesives to robots that could catch or deflect space junk.
"This is a really big deal," Kellar Autumn, a biomechanical engineer who studies gecko adhesion but didn't work on the project, tells Popular Mechanics. "I've been dreaming about this for about 15 years, since we first discovered the mechanism that makes geckos stick to walls. And this is proof that we finally understood it well enough to make a person climb a building."