QUIRKY WORLD ... Superhero Spider-Man is not so super after all

ENGLAND: If Spider-Man was real, he would be forever falling off vertical walls and struggling to maintain credibility as a superhero, new research suggests.

Scientists have discovered that the adhesive footpads that make spiders, tree frogs, and geckos such amazing climbers are limited by body size. They simply would not work for a creature as big as a human — unless he had impossibly large feet.

A person would need sticky pads covering 40% of the body’s surface to scale skyscrapers like Spider-Man, according to the researchers.

The discovery may have implications for the feasibility of large-scale gecko-like adhesive systems.

Lead scientist David Labonte, from Cambridge University’s department of zoology, said: “As animals increase in size, the amount of body surface area per volume decreases — an ant has a lot of surface area and very little volume, and a blue whale is mostly volume with not much surface area.

“This poses a problem for larger climbing species because, when they are bigger and heavier, they need more sticking power to be able to adhere to vertical or inverted surfaces, but they have comparatively less body surface available to cover with sticky footpads.”

Uber mess

USA:

A Southern California man captured on video attacking an Uber driver has sued the driver for $5m (€4.6m), claiming the video was recorded without his consent.

Benjamin Golden, aged 32, of Newport Beach was arrested in November and charged with misdemeanour assault and battery for allegedly hitting driver Edward Caban, aged 23, on October 30 in Costa Mesa in Orange County.

In November, the driver sued Golden for more than $25,000 in damages.

The Orange County Register reported Golden filed a cross-complaint last month saying Caban illegally recorded him and posted the video to YouTube.

The now-viral video captured by a dashboard-mounted camera shows Golden repeatedly striking Caban on the trip.

According to the newspaper, Golden says he was intoxicated and began to “fear for his safety and wellbeing” when the driver pulled over to “kick” him out of the car in an unfamiliar location. In the altercation, Golden was blinded by the driver’s pepper spray, the lawsuit says.

As a result of media coverage, Golden says he suffered humiliation and the loss of his job. The lawsuit claims invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery.

In an interview in November, Caban’s attorney Rivers Morrell said the Uber driver was traumatised by the attack. “It’s been a living nightmare for this young kid who has never had any altercations,” Morrell told the Register. “He’s fearful, he can’t sleep, he just can’t get this out of his head.”

Golden has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.

Birthday girl

ENGLAND:

Britain’s oldest person, Gladys Hooper, has said all she wants for her 113th birthday is to celebrate with a slice of cake and a cup of tea.

The great-grandmother, who was born in the year the Wright brothers invented the first successful aeroplane, was celebrating with family and friends from across the country at the nursing home in Ryde, Isle of Wight, where she lives. The former concert pianist, said: “I don’t feel very different to when I was 75.” She said she would be happy with a cup of tea and a cake for her birthday and, when asked if there was anything special she would like, she added: “No, I do not think so, everybody is friendly and things are satisfactory.”

Dressing down

USA:

A city official who wanted to include an elderly woman in a photo op about a snow-shovelling programme had a middle-aged male bus driver dress up in a wig, earrings, lipstick, and a dress.

The driver stood next to Allan Fung, the mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, at a news conference touting the programme, wearing a name tag that said “Cranston Senior Home Resident”.

WJAR-TV uncovered the ruse in reports this week, and Sue Stenhouse, the city’s director of senior services who organised the news conference, has since resigned. An aide for the mayor declined to explain, saying it was a personnel matter, but two city councillors told the Providence Journal they believe the stunt was meant to deceive.

Food dangers

BRITAIN:

Food proved to be the biggest danger for pets over the festive period, with vets reporting an increasing number of cases related to poisoning from consuming chocolate, mince pies, and even alcohol.

Call handlers at emergency service Vets Now’s triage centre answered a large number of queries from worried owners between Christmas Eve and January 3. More than 400 of the calls were about chocolate toxicity.

The team also dealt with 27 cases where dogs had eaten mince pies or Christmas pudding, both of which contain raisins which are also poisonous to dogs.


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