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DARPA's Z-Man program turns humans into gecko-like climbers

They are agile little creatures that can easily climb just about anything, including objects made of smooth surfaces like glass. Taking a cue from nature, DARPA thought it might be cool if humans could do the same thing and initiated the Z-Man program, which looked at the gecko toe structure and mimicked that on their own climbing devices. And the results are astounding.

Geckos toes are fascinating little things. They have many microscopic little stalks, called setae, on each toe. At the end of these setae are tiny tips called spatulae that come into contact with whatever the creatures are climbing. These spatulae adhere and release from surfaces due to something called van der Waals intermolecular forces. Basically this means that the spatulae are sized and shaped in a way that allows them to do this. It also allows geckos to support their entire body weight with just one toe.

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