Here’s Why Spider-Man Can’t Exist In Real Life

The Scientific Reason Spider-Man Can't Exist.

Life isn’t fair. You didn’t win the Powerball, and now science is here to deal you another hard truth. You’re never going to be Spider-Man. Don’t even bother trying. All attempts to get bitten by a radioactive spider and gain arachnid-like super powers are futile.

A new study by Dr. David Labonte and his colleagues at University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology has revealed that geckos are the largest animals that can scale vertical surfaces. According to the study, the percentage of an animal’s body surface covered by adhesive pads increases as body size does. Humans for example, would need to have adhesive pads covering about 40% of our body (or almost 80% of our front) in order to walk on walls like Spider-Man. Larger animals would need excessively large hands and feet to have the wall-crawling abilities. “If a human, for example, wanted to walk up a wall the way a gecko does, we’d need impractically large sticky feet – our shoes would need to be a European size 145 or a US size 114,” says Walter Federle, senior author also from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.

In some cases however, animals have developed alternate evolutionary traits to make up for their size. Frogs, for instance, don’t have the adequate percentage of body surface covered by adhesives. They’re still able to stick to walls though, by substituting bigger adhesive pads for stickier ones. As Labonte explains, theses findings “would likely also have very useful applications in the development of large-scale, powerful yet controllable adhesive.”

So there you have it. Crawling up the side of a building using only our hands and feet just isn’t in the cards for us humans. If you’re open to becoming the Green Goblin though, it’s starting to look like science can help you with that.


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Nate Santos

A born and bred New Yorker, Nate was raised on '90s hip-hop and AND1 streetball mixtapes. In his early college years, he began writing for music blogs and YRB Magazine, while working one of the scummiest jobs known to man, mobile phone sales. He later joined The SOURCE as a Contributing Editor for the print magazine and He has written for XXL magazine, and, among other media outlets. On occasion, he still loses sleep over Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals. He often copes with the stress of being a lifelong Knicks fan by adding to his sizable sneaker collection or watching a George Carlin stand-up special.