The Science Of Spider Webs
[credit: (top) Susan Ford Collins on Flickr/ (bottom) Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation, in collaboration with S. Cranford, G. Bratzel and M.J. Buehler (all three from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Rihcard C. Yu and Andaluz Yu of Green Pacific Biologicals ]
From the National Science Foundation (Feb 1st, 2012):
View a video interview with Markus Buehler of MIT, an animationof a spider web under extremes stresses, and an animation of a spider web subjected to mechanical forces.
While researchers have long known of the incredible strength of spider silk, the robust nature of the tiny filaments cannot alone explain how webs survive multiple tears and winds that exceed hurricane strength.
Now, a study that combines experimental observations of spider webs with complex computer simulations shows that web durability depends not only on silk strength, but on how the overall web design compensates for damage and the response of individual strands to continuously varying stresses.