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Next time you look up and see what appears to be Spiderman clinging to a building don’t worry you are not seeing things. Scientists believe they have unravelled the secret of Spider-Man’s superpowers.

A team in Italy has come up with a formula for a suit they say would allow the wearer to scale a wall or hang upside down just like the comic book hero.

Their invention – still at the drawing-board stage – is based on the natural technology that enables spiders and gecko lizards to cling to concrete, metal or glass.

It would work by coating the suit’s gloves and boots in microscopic structures called carbon nanotubes.

Shaped like miniature hooks and loops that function in the same way as Velcro, these mimic the billions of hairs on the foot of a gecko, which allow the creature to scuttle effortlessly up walls.

The scientists from the Polytechnic of Turin reckon the suit could be used in anything from space exploration to cleaning skyscrapers.

“It may not be long before we are seeing people climbing the Empire State Building with nothing but sticky shoes and gloves to support them,” research leader Professor Nicola Pugno writes today in the Journal of Physics.


 

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