When do we climb a building with sticky gloves like in Mission Impossible?

When do we climb a building with sticky gloves like in Mission Impossible?

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in Mission Impossible Ghost Patrol (2011)Still movie image


The gloves you crash into a skyscraper are like some kind of Spider-Man.

Where did you see?

at Mission Impossible: Ghost Patrol (2011) Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) climbs the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building, with gloves glued to the outside of the building.

How close are we?

Blue is glue, red is dead† In other words, in Dutch rhyme a little worse: in blue you stick, but in red feel free to say goodbye to your no longer clinging hand. These are the instructions that action hero Ethan Hunt receives when he climbs the tallest building in the world with sticky gloves, after which – of course – one of the gloves gets stuck (the warning light turns red) and Hunt still has to solve it.

That stunt, which was actually shot at a great height, Cruz did everything himself and that makes the scene in the movie so amazing. The actor had access to all kinds of safety ropes that the special effects department expertly surveyed afterwards.

What in 2011, when Mission Impossible: Ghost Patrol Filling Imax screens all over the world, it was still science fiction, and it turned out to be possible already only four years later. In 2015, researchers described in the trade magazine Royal Society Interface Magazine How the 70-kilogram doctoral student Elliot Hawke – the name by which the researcher himself could have played a leading role in an action film – covered 3.7 meters on a vertical glass surface with specially developed adhesive gloves, an apparent stunt inspired by the actions of Cruz in his blockbuster film.

The inspiration for all this beauty: the gecko, a type of lizard whose name it owes to “the clicking of the screaming sounds made by many species, especially during the mating season,” such as Wikipedia, among other things, describes it visually† However, there is something more impressive about geckos than the odd sounds they find appealing: they can easily climb anything and everything, even upside down and upside down, including slippery surfaces like glass.

The secret lies in the so-called ‘sticky plates’, the tiny grooved structures on the underside of her toes that contain hairs in extremely thin extensions about 0.2 micrometers thick, a hundred times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. This is so tiny that the projections feel what are called van der Waals forces, the electromagnetic attraction that usually only prevails between particles. These van der Waals forces also ensure that the water forms droplets rather than formless puddles.

If you want to mimic the sticking force of a gecko, you must be able to make such small projections. So the researchers attached a 140-square-centimeter piece of material to the hand, from which “micro-parts,” as they call them, protrude tiny projections roughly like those of a gecko. The result: a successful climb to the glass wall.

This was doubly surprising at the time, because other researchers published in the journal a year ago PNAS still finished That geckos are theoretically the largest species that can stick to a wall similar to Spider-Man.

“If people wanted to climb up a wall like a gecko, you would need impractically large feet — a shoe size of at least 145,” researcher Walter Federl said. In the press release Sent by his university about the research. A year later, this comment was already out of date. In short, don’t underestimate the desire to make science fiction a reality.

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