How to make 200,000 year old glue

    Press/Media: Public Engagement

    Period2 Oct 2020

    Media contributions


    Media contributions

    • TitleHow to make 200,000 year old glue
      Media name/outletBBC, CrowdScience
      Media typeRadio
      Dr Geeske Langejans describes how to make prehistoric glue from birch bark.

      What makes things sticky? Listener Mitch from the USA began wondering while he was taking down some very sticky wallpaper. Our world would quite literally fall apart without adhesives. They are almost everywhere – in our buildings, in our cars and in our smartphones. But how do they hold things together?

      To find out, presenter Marnie Chesterton visits a luthier, Anette Fajardo, who uses animal glues every day in her job making violins. These glues have been used since the ancient Egyptians –but adhesives are much older than that. Marnie speaks to archaeologist Dr Geeske Langejans from Delft University of Technology about prehistoric glues made from birch bark, dated to 200,000 years ago. She goes to see a chemist, Prof Steven Abbott, who helps her understand why anything actually sticks to anything else. And she speaks to physicist Dr Ivan Vera-Marun at the University of Manchester, about the nanotechnologists using adhesion at tiny scales to make materials of the future.
      Producer/AuthorMarnie Chesterton
      PersonsG.H.J. Langejans