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Science Pub: How Geckos Stick and Why We Care

McMenamins Mission Theater & Pub
1624 Nw Glisan St
Portland, Oregon 97209, US (map)
Public WiFi



Geckos can run up smooth vertical surfaces but, until recently, no one knew how they did it. Looking at the structure of gecko feet at the nanoscale and measuring the tiny forces involved showed that gecko feet stick mechanically, not chemically. This discovery lead to the development of the world's first adhesive that is dry, self-cleaning, reversible, and can even work in the vacuum of outer space. Designs based on gecko feet are being used to create robots that can run up walls, and this adhesive could bring changes to the manufacture of everything from home electronics to car brakes. At this Science Pub we will talk about how the study of mechanisms and evolution of animal locomotion has lead to biologically inspired materials and machines.

Kellar Autumn, Ph.D., professor of biology at Lewis & Clark College since 1998, does research that has grown into a new field of study at the interface between biology, physics, and materials science. He has authored over 40 scientific papers and his research is featured in textbooks, encyclopedias, and popular books including The Nanotech Pioneers: Where Are They Taking Us? Every major television network has covered his work, as have hundreds of newspaper, magazine, and Internet articles worldwide.