If you were hoping that with the power of science you would be able to cling to walls and ceilings just like one of your favorite superheroes, a study conducted at the University of Cambridge demolished that concept. This is due to the fact that Spiderman-like climbing is deemed impossible for humans by scientists.
Researchers analyzed the differences between body surface and body weight presented by different animals and insects that have the capability to climb walls easily. What they found was rather intriguing, with the size of the sticky appendage used in climbing growing exponentially in relation to the total body weight.
For instance, when comparing tiny mites to geckos, the largest flat surface climbing animal, the size disparity is immense, with geckos having 200 times larger sticky footpads in comparison to mites. If this weight to surface distribution was applied to humans, we would need 80% of our body’s front part to be adhesive. This effectively put a limit on how big the adhesive appendages can get until they become completely nonviable.
True, this study was conducted on natural means of sticking to a flat surface, disregarding the technological side. Because of this, once you put technology into the mix, the matter is completely different. By using stronger adhesives, you could theoretically stick to walls by just using your hands and feet, but the amount of force you would require to remove yourself from the surface would be immense. In addition, the wall itself might tear out when you pull your arm away, leaving you with two big pieces of concrete stuck to your palms.
This might be circumvented if science comes up with a way of turning the adhesive on and off when pressure is applied. But until that point is reached, we will just have to stick to normal grappling hooks if we really want to escalate flat surface environments.
The idea of increasing the stickiness of one’s footpads without enlarging the adhesive area is already present in nature, more specifically, frogs. These creatures have opted for an increase in adherence without sacrificing their small size in any way. This might pave the way for our technology to evolve in order to make people capable of similar feats, but that is still in the realm of fiction by this point.
Although the concept of Spiderman-like climbing is deemed impossible for humans by scientists, technology still makes the idea of becoming a superhero that sticks to walls somewhat plausible. Only time will tell if our knowledge and technology will advance up to the point where you can literally dance on the ceiling of your room.