In the nanotechnology exhibit of our museum rests a glass box and inside is a stick and a small plant – a terrarium of sorts. It’s raison d’etre is to house two of the oddest creatures – leaf-tailed geckos.
They’re only six inches long. They have none of the flair of the whiptail lizards I used to chase when I lived in Arizona and none of the venom of the gila monsters I avoided. No, if you walked by these guys in a forest you wouldn’t even see them and quite often that’s the situation in our museum as well. I’d been waiting for today.
You see, the reason they’re in our nanotechnology exhibit is that they have nano-hairs on their feet. These are hairs so fine that they can cling to glass, those hairs ‘sticking’ to glass molecules using Vanderwaal forces, the forces that hold molecules together. And finally, today, one of these lizards was sticking to the glass out where I could see and draw him.
The view I had was a top view and I wanted to capture both its shape and the fact that when they do this they are squashed down flat to the glass. They remind me of how Wile E. Coyote looks after the Roadrunner dropped an anvil on him. They are really flat. In the end it doesn’t make much of a sketch but I walked away quite satisfied that I’d accomplished the task.