This story at CNN explains how gecko feet are sticky due to an electro-mechanical phenomenon rather than a chemical glue, as had been previously assumed. The gecko is one of just a few animals capable of climbing vertical and beyond-vertical surfaces that are smooth and dry. Researchers have discovered that the secret to the adhesion lies in millions of tiny hairs called
‘setae.’ Each hair is the width of two human hairs, and contains about 1000 little pads at the end. The pads are so tiny that they actually cling to the surface at the molecular level, due to van der Waal forces. A gecko using all of its setae and pads at the same time could support 280 pounds. Seems to me that his should be easily replicated in the coming age of nanotechnology.” Other readers point to the AP story, as carried by Yahoo! and also playing at Salon.

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