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Spidey, in Real Life

Pentagon project to let you climb like the wall-crawler.

GI: Joe might soon be able to do whatever a spider can. Or, at least, one thing a spider can.

 A vision of the future?

According to Wired, DARPA, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (maybe not as sexy an acronym as SHIELD’s, but still kind of catchy) has awarded a grant to chemical engineers at Cornell University to develop a gadget that’ll allow US soldiers to scale walls like Spider-Man.   Or maybe, more specifically, the Beetle, as the palm-sized device’s water-based adhesion is inspired by that of a Floridian leaf beetle.

The gadget consists of a three-layered plate powered by a common 9-volt battery. The electric field pumps water through each layer, causing droplets to pop through tiny holes in the top layer. Each water droplet yields minimal force, but when thousands of them work together, they create enough surface tension for a square-inch device to hold up more than 15 pounds. The smaller the device, and the more holes, the stronger the adhesion forces. 

Supposedly, a fully-grown 225 lbs man (like me!) can be fully supported by just a 3x5 inch plate on the sole of his shoe.   The device could even one-up the wall-crawler by being able to handle even slippery services and “surfaces of various roughness” like plastic, linoleum and wood.

 Maybe more like this?

"UTTER BALDERDASH!," you say.   

Maybe so, but I can’t help thinking of a little story from my “secret origin.”  I once lived in Syracuse, NY, which is a 30-40 minute drive from Ithaca, and got the chance one day to tour Cornell’s research labs for a field trip in middle school (I want to say it was ’99).   The experience was a bit like getting spoilers years in advance.   Among the technologies we previewed were fiber optic cables, which the lab techs told us would allow vast amounts of   information to be delivered almost instantaneously.   Considering that cable-internet was fairly new at the time and most of us were still using dial-up connections, the prospect was pretty sci-fi.  

Well, it’s 10 years and some change later, and average consumers are uploading, streaming and downloading enormous files in the about the same time it takes them toast bread.   The concept doesn’t seem too sci-fi now, does it?  

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Comics and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia Comics.   Watch out for the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover collection this March - - available for pre-order now on Amazon.com

12 Comments
Posted by Kreature

this is old news, ive known about it for at least 5 years now
Posted by Kid_Zombie
@Kreature: you're old news! ha ha jk
 
cool i didn't know about this and it sounds pretty crazy to me!
Posted by starkiller95

cool!

Posted by goldenkey
@Kreature said:
"this is old news, ive known about it for at least 5 years now "

ewwwww aren't you cool.  maybe some people didn't know and find it interesting.
Posted by Pez85

That's fantastic. Kinda makes me want to join the US army, just so I can break out my Spidey PJ's and sing the Spider-Man theme song.

Posted by Vortex13

I think I heard about this before, popular science maybe? I still always find these things fascinating of course. When science fiction becomes science, love it.

Posted by Omega Ray Jay

Thought this thread was going to be about that dude who climbs all the tallest buildings

Posted by sora_thekey

I'll be impressed when they make web shooters!
Moderator
Posted by reaper2923

Didn't one of the Mythbusters try to climb up the side of a building and it was difficult (but not impossible I suppose that's the key word)

Posted by InnerVenom123
@sora_thekey said:
"I'll be impressed when they make web shooters! "

Hell to the yeah!
Edited by Kreature
@sora_thekey: Just give it a couple years. They've already made synthetic spider silk( genetically altered goats) and they've built wrist-mounted launchers ( Spider-man silly string toy), it's just a matter of perfecting the silk and shrinking the launcher and  Voilà, the future will be littered with teenage comic geeks swinging from skyscrapers screaming EXCELSIOR!  
Posted by Illyana Rasputin

We'll see. I would have to see it in action, first.