Ever Wondered How Spiders Are So Stealthy? Scientists May Have The Answer

William Elcock

So, you’ve just watched Spiderman: Homecoming and it got you thinking about spiders. How is it that they’re so stealthy prancing around on their spider webs, and swinging from threads?

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A spider descending towards you from above is usually not seen until it is too late and it’s right in front of you, for example. This is quite a terrifying prospect for those of us that hate spiders.

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Well, scientists believe they have the answer to spiders’ stealth and it has to do with the properties of their dragline silk. Stay tuned to find out more!

Dragline silk is produced within the body of spiders and acts as a safety line of sorts for them. It allows them to hang from ceilings and tethers them to their webs.

Spider Dragline Silk

The spider’s silk can negate vibrations that are bound to happen while the spider is traveling. Basically, the dragline silk is a really effective shock absorber.

Spider dragline silk is well known for being extremely strong. A strand of dragline silk is stronger than steel when the two materials are compared by weight. However, a group of scientists from China and the United Kingdom has also linked dragline silk to spiders’ stealth.
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By using a device called a torsional pendulum to measure the changes in forces exerted on dragline silk, the researchers were able to see how the silk reacted to different stresses applied to it. They also tested fibers of material such as human hair, metal wires, and carbon fiber for comparison. These materials were elastic in their behavior.

They also tested fibers of material such as human hair, metal wires, and carbon fiber for comparison. These materials were elastic in their behavior.

Dragline silk, however, deforms in such a way that it can negate vibrations as a spider uses it to travel from point A to point B.

The elastic materials such as carbon fiber basically returned to their original state when a stress was applied under testing.

Dragline silk, on the other hand, underwent a permanent molecular deformation. Due to this deformation, the spider’s silk can negate vibrations that are bound to happen while the spider is traveling. Essentially, the dragline silk is a really effective shock absorber.

Usefulness of This Study

Tools such as ropes for rescue helicopter ladders or rappelling climbers could benefit from having the properties of spider dragline silk integrated into them.

After looking at the outcome of this research you may now be thinking that this is cool. However, you may also be wondering what are the practical applications of this?

Many times with scientific research, it can come across as a little abstract, with no possible applications.

With that in mind, let’s think of the possible applications for this. Tools such as ropes for rescue helicopter ladders or rappelling climbers could benefit from having the properties of spider dragline silk integrated into them.

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These instruments are used in precarious situations which involve them moving a little wildly at times.

What other purposes do you think, the knowledge from this research could be used for? Think about applications which require stability under movement. Let us know in the comments section below.

Final Thoughts

Nature is probably the ultimate teacher. By studying it carefully we can find various methods of improving current technologies and of even creating new technologies.

The research highlighted in this article is a prime example of this. By understanding how the spider is so stealthy, the possibility now exists to use this knowledge to create safer rescue technology.

The research highlighted in this article is a prime example of this. By understanding how the spider is so stealthy, the possibility now exists to use this knowledge to create safer rescue technology.

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#Science #Spider Man

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William Elcock

Written By

William Elcock

William has been helping friends troubleshoot tech problems for several years and thus made the natural progression into tech blogging. In addition to consumer electronics William also has a vested interest in various renewable energy topics.