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Inspired By Snails, Penn Researchers Invent A reversible Adhesive Strong Enough To Hold A Person

By Sebastian Echeverri
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A team led by Shu Yang, professor of material science and engineering at Penn, has managed to create a super glue out of snail slime. Just two stamp-size pieces of Yang’s adhesive are enough to easily hold the weight of a 160-pound person.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Superglue is incredibly useful, right until you end up attached to your craft project. But a new adhesive invented by University of Pennsylvania scientists is just as strong as standard superglue, and far more forgiving.

The adhesive, based on snail slime, can be unattached and reattached over and over without losing its strength, and may save manufacturers from costly mistakes.

Humanity has been searching for the best way to stick two things together for a very long time.

As early as 200,000 years ago, humans were making sticky tar by carefully burning birch bark in a time-intensive process.

Nearly 4,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians were boiling animal parts to make the first liquid glues. Rubber-based glues were invented in 1830, with modern superglue hitting convenience store shelves in 1958. But all of these adhesives come with a frustrating trade-off: They can be strong and permanent, like superglue, or reusable but not very sticky, like Post-its.

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