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