Climbing walls is one of those odd feats that scientific establishments seem compelled to master -- despite there being few practical applications beyond the ultimate in Marvel-themed Halloween attire. The latest to tackle the challenge are Paul Steen and Michael Vogel from Cornell University, who have stolen the sticky-feet technique of a Floridian beetle that apparently failed to file a patent. The technique relies on the surface tension of water and capillary action of fluids forced through thousands of microscopic holes. When moisture is pushed through the holes it creates a suction on a smooth surface, enough at this point for the team's prototype to hold a weight of 30 grams. When the water is retracted the suction disappears. If all goes well, future implementations of a similar size could hold 15 pounds, meaning with enough of them you could climb a wall -- without leaving a sticky mess behind.
[Image and video courtesy of David A. Anderson]