Published on February 1st, 2012 | by James Johnson0
Spider Silk Isn’t Only Strong It’s Super Smart Which Helps It Survive And Thrive [Research]
If you’ve ever walked through a spider web you’ve likely noticed how easily you tore the web apart and ruined the beautiful design the spider had created, however while spider webs are easy to break it turns out that spider silk isn’t only stronger then steel and tougher then Kevlar, it’s also extremely smart.
In the Feb. 2 edition of Nature engineer Markus J. Buehler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says:
“Spider silk has a particular way of softening and then being stiff that is really essential for it to function properly.”
Using computer models the engineer and his team determined that webs are strong because they know how to react differently to varying stress levels such as the winds caused by hurricanes.
For example a simple light win softens the web, allowing it to lengthen while retaining overall structure while a stronger reaction such as poking the web causes the spider silk to become rigid which then forces it to break, keeping the main part of the structure in place.
When a threat is fully extended the thread then sever. As the web loses parts of it’s structure it actually becomes stronger. In fact researchers found that when moving up to a tenth of the threats at varying locations the structure could carry anywhere from 3 to 10 percent more weight.
Using the properties of spider silk researchers hope to learn how they can make other materials stronger.
Are you surprised to learn just how strong and smart spider silk is?