Scientists Decode Key to Spider Web Strength | The Institute for Creation Research

Scientists Decode Key to Spider Web Strength

Imagine a cloth that gets stronger after it is damaged. That is what scientists recently discovered when probing the strength of garden spider webs.

A research team tested the resistance of a spider web's supporting radial threads and compared that with the thinner spiral threads. They found that placing a certain amount of pressure on just one thread caused it to suddenly stiffen and distribute the stress to the rest of the web.

Of course, too much damage eventually weakened the web, but the initial damage had the opposite effect. After investigators applied even more pressure, the additional stress was not transferred to the whole web, but to tiny protein crystals acting as stress points on the targeted strand. Whether the scientists pushed on a spiral or radial thread, only that strand broke, leaving the whole web intact.

In fact, the whole web strengthened with a few broken strands! The study authors wrote, "The ultimate load capacity increased by 3-10% with the introduction of defects."1

"Given the presumed metabolic effort required by the spider for rebuilding an entire web, localized failure is preferential as it does not compromise the structural integrity of the web and hence allows it to continue to function for prey capture in spite of the damage," according their report in the journal Nature.1

If the entire web broke apart because of stress in one area, like when catching an insect, then the spider would have to constantly recycle and recast a new web. Spiders might not survive the energy cost required by all that work.

But because of the superior engineering in both the material and structural layout, spiders can catch multiple meals with the same web, and the web holds its overall strength even in very strong winds. The study authors called this an "optimized" system, meaning that it could not be improved. And if human engineers copy spider web construction tactics, they must conform to "a design stipulation that requires the consideration of both material and structural architecture."1

Did nature optimize spider webs, or was this design feature programmed by the Creator? If making mere copies of spider web structure "requires the consideration" of specific elements, then it stands to reason that the origin of spider web construction also required consideration. Nature is, in fact, mindless and cannot consider anything. Since only a real engineer can consider and construct, the Intelligent Designer—our Creator—is certainly responsible for the garden spider web's "enhanced mechanical performance."1

Reference

  1. Cranford, S. W. et al. 2012. Nonlinear material behaviour of spider silk yields robust webs. Nature. 482 (7383): 72-76.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on March 19, 2012.

The Latest
NEWS
Many Martian Volcanoes May Be Mudflows
Tens of thousands of volcano-looking features exist across the northern lowlands and other areas across Mars.1 In the past, these volcanoes...

ACTS & FACTS
A Believer's Response to Challenging Times
As I write this, stay-at-home mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic are still in force across much of the country. The resulting economic turmoil has...

APOLOGETICS
The Bird That Walks and Flies Under Water
The official bird of Norway is Cinclus cinclus, the white-throated dipper, an ordinary-looking bird that behaves in very extraordinary ways.1...

ACTS & FACTS
Does Scripture Say Anything about Climate?
Climate change conversations squeeze their way into so many different topics, yet climate research is rife with confusion. Which scientists are right—those...

ACTS & FACTS
Missing Ice Age Forests Fit Flood/Ice Age Model
Secular scientists say Earth has experienced many Ice Ages. But the evidence for multiple Ice Ages is very weak.1 There is strong geological...

ACTS & FACTS
How Not to Date Hominid Remains
A recent Neanderthal study in the journal Science mixed detailed archaeological finds with stories about human origins. As is typical, the report’s...

ACTS & FACTS
An Ocean of Viruses
A virus is a very tiny structure that, in its simplest definition, is some nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA) packed inside a protein coat. Viruses can’t...

ACTS & FACTS
Revisiting the Isochron Age Model, Part 1
Radioactive dating is based on the decay rate of a starting radioactive isotope (the parent) into its stable counterpart (the daughter). An age is assigned...

RESEARCH
Flood Model Solves Antarctica Rainforest Mystery
A recent study published in Nature has evolutionary scientists baffled. The researchers reportedly found an ancient rainforest in Antarctica, of all...

DISCOVERY CENTER
Free Online ICR Live Science Presentations
Use Zoom or Facebook to attend free ICR events online! Discover how science confirms creation even when you’re at home. At the time of this...