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Why is Banana Skin Slippery?

Why is Banana Skin Slippery?

Have you ever wondered why people slip when they step on banana peels? Banana peels are more slippery compared to any other fruit peels. Unless you are a science student or probably have not worked in the fruit market, you must be wondering why banana peels are slippery? Wonder no more, as we explain it today.

The science behind the banana peel

The reason behind this, as the latest study by Kiyoshi Mabuchi and Kensei Tanaka at the School of Allied Health Sciences, Kitasato University reveals, is the presence of polysaccharide molecules in the fruit peel. Also, it is similar to the material (Hyaluronan) present in the membranes of the human body where bones meet. Bananas are radioactive and contain a smaller amount of isotope potassium-40. Bananas have a low radioactive rate, so it’s not so harmful.

According to a fruitologist’s claim, he has seen a forklift truck spinning its wheels on banana peels. Also, it was not able to get any traction. You must have seen a lot of cartoon themes where they toss the banana skin on the floor, and the other cartoon character falls when they step on it. Even though many people might not have seen people slipping or experienced one, they have heard about it. It is one of the reasons why tribologists in Japan wanted to find the answer to the slippery peel of the banana.

What is Tribology?

The study of surfaces move relative to each other is known as tribology, and it is a Greek word. The work “trib” means “I rub” and a big part of it is friction. Tribology was started in the 1960s by the lubrication expert Peter Jost and the physicist David Tabor. However, around 5000 years back, Egyptians are presumed to have used a variety of lubricants to shift stones while building the pyramids and might have had a comprehensive understanding of how friction works. After that, the first laws of friction were devised by Leonardo Da Vinci.

We just wanted to show you how banana make an excellent dessert

What is friction?

Friction is a bit complex and is dependent on the speed of the two surfaces at which they are moving. Well, dynamic or moving friction is different from static friction. The way of measuring friction is the frictional coefficient or the coefficient of friction. According to Japanese tribologists, the frictional coefficient of friction of banana peel on a linoleum surface is 0.07, and the number is quite low. It is much better than metal lubricated oil or metal. Also, it is not worse than you can see when it is Teflon on Teflon.

Banana peel under a microscope

Under the microscope, when the banana skin was diagnosed, experts found tiny little follicles, and it is the surface that touches the inner banana skin. When a person’s foot puts some external pressure, a curious gel gets released containing carbohydrates, protein, and polysaccharides. But due to the bumpy skin nature, the strange gel gets trapped between the floor and the banana, offering a low friction state. These Japanese scientists are really interested in how friction and lubrication affect the movement of our limbs and if we can use this knowledge for that.

Studying why banana peels are slippery might help design better joint prosthesis

PLANTSCIENCE FACT: The polysaccharide follicular gels that give the simple banana skins their slippery properties are also found in the membranes where our bones meet.

Scientists measured the frictional coefficient in other fruits and in apple peels it was found to be at 0.1, but it was not slippery. Therefore, it is said that in fruits, banana peels are the worst, and the gel that oozes out makes the place slippery. Now you know the reason why people fall when they step on the banana peel is because of this gel. Before you brush off this study as a passion of bored scientists, the observations are being used to understand and help design a better joint prosthesis.


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