Thursday, November 25, 2004

Constructing Spider Silk

I was told as a kid that spider silk is stronger than steel, and I remember marvelling at how cool it would be if we could mass produce the stuff. Looks like the wait is nearly over:

For the first time anywhere, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from Germany have succeeded in producing self-assembled spider web fibers under laboratory conditions, outside of the bodies of spiders. This fiber is significantly stronger than the silk fiber made by silkworms. Silk has been in use by mankind for thousands of years. However, unlike silkworms, spiders are territorial in nature and thus not subject to domestication and commercial growth in quantities.
...
"The research enabled us to determine the close connection that exists between the sequence, structure and functions of the proteins,'' said Dr. Gat. ''From a practical viewpoint, mass production of fibers, whose diameter is one-thousandth of a millimeter, is likely to be useful in the future for manufacture of bulletproof vests, surgical thread, micro-conductors, optical fibers and fishing rods; even new types of clothing may be envisioned."

No mention of constructing huge nets to trap jumbo jets, or Spiderman-style contraptions. So much for my childhood dreams, eh?

8 comments:

  1. Apparently, silk manufacturing normally involved boiling silkworms alive. That's from a secondary source only, but still...

    -T 

    Posted by Tennessee Leeuwenburg

    ReplyDelete
  2. Apparently, silk manufacturing normally involved boiling silkworms alive. That's from a secondary source only, but still...

    -T 

    Posted by Tennessee Leeuwenburg

    ReplyDelete
  3. Silk manufacturing sounds pretty mean! Where do you stand on the Fallujah-like blog-war between Aaron Bhatnagar (http://bhatnagar.blogspot.com) and Matt Nippert (using the pseudonym of "Lyndon Hood") of anti-capitalist weblog Fighting Talk (http://fightingtalk.blogspot.com)? A posting, please. (I'm a longtime reader, first time commenter).  

    Posted by Marc O'Reilly

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey, I can't work out whether you are asking me for my opinion, or the owner of this blog. I have my own blog which I post to regularly at melbournephilosopher.blogspot.com. I tend to keep my fingers out of blog-wars, because I'm not into social commentary, but rather into looking at the validity of arguments. As such, I don't try to push social positions very hard, although I do state mine.

    I have not gone to those blogs and read them. I suspect though you are asking Richard, not me.

    Cheers,
    -T 

    Posted by Tennessee Leeuwenburg

    ReplyDelete
  5. Why are you so interested in getting everyones comments on a blog war? It sounds like you have a vested interest somwhere particularly since oyu ask the question mroe than once. 

    Posted by geniusnz

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm guessing it was for this lame roundup at Dog Biting Men. They make it sound as if Mr.T is affiliated with this blog, which is rather misleading. 

    Posted by Richard

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey, I'm not proud, anyone who wants to call me Mr. T. is welcome to do so :P. Hopefully some whinging critic will come along and either (a) read this fine blog here, or (b) read my own philosophy blog or (c) invistigate my website. Any of those should result in a net gain of karma for the universe at large ;)

    To disambiguate (er, clarify) I am affiliated with this blog only in so far as I think it's good. 

    Posted by Tennessee Leeuwenburg

    ReplyDelete
  8. I still say that silkworm manufacturing sounds pretty mean!!!! 

    Posted by Marc O'Reilly

    ReplyDelete

Visitors: check my comments policy first.
Non-Blogger users: If the comment form isn't working for you, email me your comment and I can post it on your behalf. (If your comment is too long, first try breaking it into two parts.)