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Scientists Invent Gum That Won't Stick to Your Shoe

Man stepping in chewing gum. (Image credit: stock.xchng)

Stepping in gum on the sidewalk won't be such a sticky situation anymore—scientists have invented nonstick gum.

Clean Gum, as it is called, supposedly can be easily removed from shoes and pavement (as well as from hair, skin, and clothes). So walk down the street without fear of ruining your favorite shoes.

Results from preliminary tests, announced today at the annual BA Festival of Science held at the University of York, UK, also indicate that the gum will degrade naturally in water.

"The advantage of our Clean Gum is that it has great taste, it is easy to remove and has the potential to be environmentally degradable," said Terence Cosgrove of the University of Bristol in England and a scientist for the company, Revolymer, that created the gum.

Researchers pitted Clean Gum against commercial gums by sticking them to the pavement on local streets and seeing which gums were easier to remove. The commercial gums remained stuck to the pavement three out of four times, while in all tests, Clean Gum was removed within 24 hours by natural events.

The trick to decreasing the stickiness of the gum was to add a polymer that made it less adhesive to most of the surfaces that the chewy stuff tends to stick to.

Revolymer plans to market Clean Gum commercially and launch the product in 2008.

Andrea Thompson
Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.