European garden spider spinning its web
2 Corinthians 4:7
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
Scientists have been studying the safety line used by the common garden spider to save itself when falling. This safety line is as strong as nylon and has twice as much stretch.
The drag line silk is only one of several kinds that the spider can make. Scientists report that the silk is made of sections that are crystalline and sections that are like rubber. This makes it both stretchy and strong. Amazed chemists note that usually when you make something stronger, you also make it more likely to break rather than stretch. Since spider silk is twice as strong as silkworm silk, why hasn't it been used to make more things?
To harvest enough spider silk for study, scientists place a spider on a piece of cardboard. Then they bump the spider off the cardboard. As the spider makes the drag line silk, a scientist turns the cardboard to reel it in. One spider made half-a-mile of silk in ten minutes! This fact might give you a hint about why spider silk isn't used to manufacture items. It’s too fine. In the early eighteenth century, an inventor did make gloves and stockings from spider silk. However, his experience showed that it would take more than half a million spiders to make a pound of silk!
The spider and its silk are engineering marvels that clearly show why we must rely on a Creator to explain the world in which we live.
Notes: J. A. Miller. 1984. “Spider Silk Stretch and Strength.” Science News, June 23, p. 391.
Photo: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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