How Adhesive Tape Works

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Author's Note: How Adhesive Tape Works

In searching for more information about the tape used by NASA to insulate a lunar lander (specially developed for the purpose, with the ability to remain sticky through an enormous temperature range), I also found pictures of the Apollo lander patched together with plain old duct tape, and came across an interesting phenomenon: Conspiracy theorists have decided the presence of duct tape on the Apollo lander confirms the moon landing was a hoax.

It's a probably a common viewpoint, that tools we have lying around the house couldn't possibly be used to get men to the moon. And in this case, it was actually just a quick repair to the lander's fender, which fell off during the mission. But duct tape also played a significant role in getting the ill-fated Apollo 13 astronauts back to Earth, and my point is simply this: I learned in my research that adhesive tape was truly a revolutionary development [source: Universe Today]. By all accounts, there's a reason why New York's Museum of Modern art featured sticky tape in an exhibit called "Humble Masterpieces" and Richard Drew was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

In defense of pressure-sensitive adhesives, if the moon landing was faked, duct tape probably isn't proof of it.

Related Articles


  • "Moondust and Duct Tape." NASA Science News. April 21, 2008. (Feb. 20, 2013)
  • Petkewich, Rachel. "Adhesive tape." American Chemical Society. Oct. 15, 2007. (Feb. 6, 2013)
  • "Scotch® Transparent Tape." American Chemical Society (ACS) National Chemical Landmark. Sept. 19, 2007. (Feb. 6, 2013)
  • "The sticky truth about adhesive tape." The Human Touch of Chemistry (THToC). (Feb. 6, 2013)
  • "Surface Energy and Wetting." (Feb. 9, 2013)
  • "Types of Pressure Sensitive Adhesives." ThomasNet. (Feb. 6, 2013)
  • "van der Waals Bonding." HyperPhysics. (Feb. 9, 2013)
  • "van der Waals forces." Encyclopedia Britannica. (Feb. 9, 2013)
  • "What exactly is the physical or chemical process that makes adhesive tape sticky?" Scientific American. (Feb. 6, 2012)

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