The first step in the scientific method is to perform some background research and in the news article (“Engineers Create New,” 2008). It is implied that this step had been followed because it mentions that other researchers have already made several studies and experiments and have been doing it for several years. It is obvious that the scientists in the current study have performed a background analysis of previous efforts to develop other adhesives.
The second step is the formulation of the hypothesis and in this particular news, the hypothesis is whether it is possible to formulate an adhesive that emulates the capability of the hairs on the toes of the gecko lizard that are able to clean themselves without having to use water or chemicals. This would be an interesting result because normally, dirt would stick to an adhesive and it would lose its stickiness in the process.
Fearing explains that the ultimate goal is to develop an all-terrain robot that can emulate the gecko lizard that could walk on dirty surfaces along walls and ceilings (“Engineers Create New,” 2008). The next step in the scientific method is to conduct several experiments to test the hypothesis and the news article provides a rough sketch of the experiments that the engineers had conducted, where they use microfibers made from stiff polymers to represent the toe hairs and microspheres with diameters ranging from three to 10 microns to simulate dirt (“Engineers Create New,” 2008).
After the experiments, an analysis of the results was made, and it was mentioned that it was indeed possible for the microfibers to get rid of some of the dirt after every simulated step of a gecko lizard. As a conclusion, it is indicated that it is possible to make an adhesive that cleans itself but further studies have to be made with other kinds of surfaces because in these experiments, only glass was used. Looking at the scientific soundness of the news article, we can see that there is no mention of the sample size, which is quite common in such kinds of articles.
As we can see, this article is lacking in this respect but it could be assumed that this is mentioned in the actual report made by the scientists. As for the control group, there is no specific mention of the researchers actually performing an experiment where common adhesive materials are used instead of the microfibers being studied. The news report is also lacking in this respect but it could have been assumed that it is the common knowledge of the reader that with the usual adhesive, dirt accumulates until it is no longer sticky.
In the study, the independent variables are the range of the sizes of the microspheres and the characteristics of the glass surface and the microfibers. The dependent variable is the quantity of microspheres that get deposited on the glass surface every time the simulated step of a gecko is performed on it. Another dependent variable is the adhesion strength of the new adhesive material after several steps have been done. There would be some suspicion of bias in the part of the researchers if a particular result would serve to benefit them.
Taken in this light, almost everyone could be suspected of bias but in this study, the scientists are scholars who appear to be genuine in their desires to create something useful for humanity.
University of California – Berkeley (2008, September 10). Engineers Create New Gecko-like Adhesive That Shakes Off Dirt. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 23, 2009, from http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2008/09/080910090610. htm
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