Home » Biomimicry, News » Researchers discussing spider’s web can’t stop using the forbidden word – design

Researchers discussing spider’s web can’t stop using the forbidden word – design

spider web responds to stress/Zina Deretsky, NSF

From “Spider Web’s Strength Lies in More Than Its Silk” (ScienceDaily, Feb. 1, 2012), we learn,

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.

You can learn a lot about spider webs reading this, but also note the following:

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.

… a spider’s web is organized to sacrifice local areas so that failure will not prevent the remaining web from functioning, even if in a diminished capacity, says Carter. “This is a clever strategy when the alternative is having to make an entire, new web,” he adds. “As Buehler suggests, engineers can learn from nature and adapt the design strategies that are most appropriate for specific applications.”

The word “design” is used four times in the article.

Question: If design in nature is an illusion, why are engineers so anxious to learn from it? Darwin’s men can ban the term, not the reality.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

12 Responses to Researchers discussing spider’s web can’t stop using the forbidden word – design

  1. Design isn’t a forbidden word, that’s why.

  2. “Design” has been redefined to include conceptual processes that are credited with having unintentionally produced results that give the illusion of having been prepared with forethought, knowledge, and intent.

    It’s okay to use the word now that it doesn’t mean anything.

  3. Spider Spinning Web To Music – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4222285/

    Engineers have calculated that a woven cord of spider’s silk as thick as a pencil could stop a jet in midair.
    From the book ‘Weird Nature’ By John Downer

    Spider Silk Is Stronger Than Steel
    Excerpt:
    * The silk thread spun by spiders, measuring just one-thousandth of a millimeter across, is five times stronger than steel of the same thickness.
    * It can stretch up to four times its own length.
    * It is also so light that enough thread to stretch clear around the planet would weigh only 320 grams.
    “On the human scale, a web resembling a fishing net could catch a passenger jet airplane.”

    On the underside of the tip of the spider’s abdomen are three pairs of spinnerets. Each of these spinnerets is studded with many hairlike tubes called spigots. The spigots lead to silk glands inside the abdomen, each of which produces a different type of silk. As a result of the harmony between them, a variety of silk threads are produced. Inside the spider’s body, pumps, valves and pressure systems with exceptionally developed properties are employed during the production of the raw silk, which is then drawn out through the spigots. 34
    Most importantly, the spider can alter the pressure in the spigots at will, which also changes the structure of molecules making up the liquid keratin. The valves’ control mechanism, the diameter, resistance and elasticity of the thread can all be altered, thus making the thread assume desired characteristics without altering its chemical structure. If deeper changes in the silk are desired, then another gland must be brought into operation. And finally, thanks to the perfect use of its back legs, the spider can put the thread on the desired track.
    http://www.harunyahya.com/book.....tics01.php

    Biomimicry- Spider Hair: The Perfect Water Repellant Surface
    Excerpt: Because the trick is done with physics instead of chemistry, the hydrophobic surface manufactured to spider spec does not have to slough off any dangerous chemicals. Sigmund is now working on similar surface tricks that can repel oil. If engineers can figure out economical ways to manufacture these surfaces with enough durability for a range of temperatures, industry will beat a path,,,,.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100224b

  4. So if you use the word as if it means something, then you are in trouble?

  5. Not necessarily. Lots of organisms intentionally produce designs.

    I wouldn’t describe a spider that way, but you never know.

    But I agree it’s an ambiguous word, and is sometimes used to describe the creative products of non-intentional processes.

    tbh I don’t see why not, seeing how creative non-intentional processes can be, and how superbly functional the resulting designs thingummies are.

  6. No.

  7. Read a fascinating article some time ago about how airports now use a system for optimising the scheduling of take-offs, stacking and landing times of the planes, based on a system used by ants or some such insects in their logistics.

    Apparently, they use pheromones as markers, but I found this hilarious item in an article on Wiki, googling ‘ants’ and ‘pheromones’:

    ‘Several ant species even use “propaganda pheromones” to confuse enemy ants and make them fight among themselves.’

    Now, that is political, nay, Machiavellian, machination, never mind ‘design’….! And somehow, I don’t think they have their Machiavellis and Lloyd Georges.

  8. Read a fascinating article some time ago about how airports now use a system for optimising the scheduling of take-offs, stacking and landing times of the planes, based on a system used by ants or some such insects in their logistics.

    Apparently, they use pheromones as markers, but I found this hilarious item in an article on Wiki, googling ‘ants’ and ‘pheromones’:

    ‘Several ant species even use “propaganda pheromones” to confuse enemy ants and make them fight among themselves.’

    Now, that is political, nay, Machiavellian, machination, never mind ‘design’….! And somehow, I don’t think they have their Machiavellis and Thatchers.

  9. It’s okay to use the word now that it doesn’t mean anything.

    I note the sarcasm, but the use of metaphor greatly enhances a language’s richness, without redefining the word being so used. Some would mean a spider’s web is designed in a metaphorical sense, others might mean it literally. If we could only use it without qualification for objects of definitive ID provenance, we would be stuck with human artefacts alone.

  10. The Cordyceps fungus that gets inside an ant’s brain and causes it to climb to an exposed position, optimising spread of its spores, is also a nifty but grim piece of ‘design’, by an organism without a nervous system. It is not creating an artefact, as is the spider, but nonetheless it uses the ant as a tool: a spore-spreading device.

  11. In the Telegraph article they are using words/phrases such as: “Design, intricate design, complex structure, mechanical properties, ability, inbuilt feature, creation…”.
    An excellent video of a spider building its web is included within that article.

    - Just imagine how they could come into existence in teensy weensy steps by natural selection. There is just no possible way that could happen. The designs are better than we humans can do. So we need to copy spiders? And there is no intelligence in the designs? What a laugh.

    Waiting for someone to mention “Genetic algorithms”.

  12. Fascinating fact about the strength of spider silk:

    “Spiders make many kinds of silk. The best known is dragline silk which the spider uses in web construction and also for “hanging around”. Dragline silk consists of proteins called spidroins. These are made in the spider’s silk glands as a thick paste that is drawn into fibers during spinning. Once spun, the silk is strong and very tough. It not only supports the spider but can trap a very large beetle. Scientists estimate that if dragline silk could be faithfully reproduced with the thickness of a pencil, it would be strong enough to stop a large jet plane in flight.”

    A jet plane travels at, what, approximately 500 mph per hour? Wow.

    From here: http://www.scienceline.ucsb.ed.....=984692738

Leave a Reply