Sticky | Laurie Winkless

Summary of: Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces
By: Laurie Winkless


Embark on a journey into the unexplored world of surfaces with ‘Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces’ by Laurie Winkless. In this enlightening book, Winkless delves into the fascinating realm of tribology, a science that investigates friction, adhesion, and lubrication. Through a range of compelling examples – from skating to car tires and gecko feet – you’ll discover how friction affects almost every aspect of our daily lives. Learn about the importance of surface wetting for adhesion, the mysteries surrounding ancient cave paintings, and the optimal ice temperature for different types of skaters. This book summary will not only pique your curiosity but also equip you with valuable knowledge about surfaces, grip, and glide – leaving you with numerous engaging tidbits to share with friends and family.

Sticky or Slippery?

In her book, physicist Laurie Winkless explores the impact of surface stickiness and slipperiness on our everyday lives. From driving to wearing socks, she delves into the science of tribology, revealing surprising examples and applications. While some may find the level of detail overwhelming, Winkless’ eye-opening revelations are sure to captivate and enlighten readers.

The Science Of Friction

Did you know that the scientists who study friction are called tribologists? Friction produces grip when increased and glide when reduced. Fascinatingly, as early as 2000 BC, logisticians in Egypt experimented with adding water to sand to reduce the friction in moving heavy stone structures across the desert. Friction affects everything in our world, from walking to driving, and understanding its properties can help us tackle a range of engineering problems.

The Science of Adhesion

The manipulation of friction plays a crucial role in our daily lives and businesses. From car tires on asphalt to skates on ice, understanding friction and adhesion is essential. This knowledge has led to a $200 billion industry that creates different types of paints and adhesives for various surfaces. Wetting a surface is crucial for adhesion, and smooth surfaces are more challenging to stick to than rough ones. Even after 20,000 years, the ocher paint in caves still remains a mystery to chemists who rely on surface knowledge and chemical reactions to create effective adhesives.

Secrets to Ideal Skating Temperature

The perfect temperature for ice skating is not just below freezing, it’s -7ºC to -9ºC. At this temperature, ice is not slippery but offers high friction allowing for optimal glide and speed. Speed skaters prefer -9ºC, whereas hockey players require -6ºC. Figure skaters need slightly softer ice (-3ºC) to gain more friction for jumps and turns. Ice maintains a microscopic layer of liquid until it reaches -100ºC, below which it’s not slippery at all.

The Smart Adhesion of Gecko Feet

Gecko feet exemplify the extraordinary adhesion found in nature through millions of microscopic ridges called “lamellae” that create incredible surface-area friction. By contorting their feet, geckos can stick and unstick six times faster than a blink of an eye, making them the most intelligent on-off adhesive in the world. Even though scientists are yet to fully understand how geckos generate their grip, this ability has inspired numerous inventions, including “gecko grippers” used by astronauts in space and tapes that help researchers climb walls.

The Science of Swimming

Water’s drag on swimmers increases with speed, but Speedo has designed wetsuits that mimic sharkskin to reduce drag and boost performance. Using hydrophobic layers, new Speedo suits won most medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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