Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why A Spider Hanging From A Thread Does Not Rotate

Date:
April 10, 2006
Source:
Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique
Summary:
The extraordinary properties of spider's thread are like a blessing for researchers working on polymers. However, the amazing twisting properties it displays are still not very well understood. How can one explain the fact that a spider suspended by a thread remains completely motionless, instead of rotating like a climber does at the end of a rope?

Spiders can avoid uncontrolled movements in their thread, which could potentially attract predators.
Credit: Photo © Anthony Carré - CNRS 2006

The extraordinary properties of spider's thread are like a blessing for researchers working on polymers. However, the amazing twisting properties it displays are still not very well understood. How can one explain the fact that a spider suspended by a thread remains completely motionless, instead of rotating like a climber does at the end of a rope? Researchers at the Laboratoire de physique des lasers (CNRS/University of Rennes) have described the exceptional properties of this material which still has some secrets to reveal. The results will be published in Nature on 30 March 2006.

Fasten an object to the end of a vertically suspended thread. Give it a slight twist and let go. You will observe that the object rotates for a certain length of time and with a certain amplitude, depending on the material of the thread. Now observe a spider suspended from its thread: It is stable, doesn't move, spins its thread in a perfectly straight line and always recovers its balance after environmental disturbances.

By experimenting with a torsion pendulum to which they attached a mass equivalent to a spider's weight, researchers at the Laboratoire de physique des lasers (CNRS/University of Rennes) compared the dynamic reactions of different types of thread to a 90 rotation. The results are revealing: a KevlarTM filament (which is synthetic) behaves like an elastic, with reduced oscillations. A copper thread oscillates slightly but does not return to its original shape, and becomes more fragile as a result of these oscillations. Spider's thread, on the other hand, is very efficient at absorbing oscillations, regardless of air resistance, and retains its twisting properties during the experiments. It also returns to its exact original shape. Certain alloys, such as Nitinol, possess similar properties but must be heated to 90 to return to their original shape.

The amazing properties of spider's thread have been known for several years: its ductility, strength and hardness surpass those of the most complex synthetics fibers . It now also seems that through natural selection, spider's thread has evolved into a material with “self-shape memory effect” which allows it to return to its original configuration without outside stimulus. This complex dynamic process has recently been represented as a “stacked” model which the authors use to depict the relaxation of the different proteins in spider's thread.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique. "Why A Spider Hanging From A Thread Does Not Rotate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404201844.htm>.
Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique. (2006, April 10). Why A Spider Hanging From A Thread Does Not Rotate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404201844.htm
Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique. "Why A Spider Hanging From A Thread Does Not Rotate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404201844.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins