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?