Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spiderman's webbing would be strong enough to stop a moving train, say physics students

Date:
February 25, 2013
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
In Spiderman 2, the superhero uses his webbing to bring a runaway train to a standstill moments before it plummets over the end of the track. But could a material with the strength and toughness of spiders’ web really stop four crowded subway cars? According to physics students, the answer is yes.

In Spiderman 2, the superhero uses his webbing to bring a runaway train to a standstill moments before it plummets over the end of the track. But could a material with the strength and toughness of spiders' web really stop four crowded subway cars?

Related Articles


According to University of Leicester physics students, the answer is yes.

A group of three fourth year MPhys students calculated the material properties of webbing needed in these conditions -- and found that the strength of the web would be proportional to that of real spiders.

Their paper, Doing whatever a spider can, was published in the latest volume of the University of Leicester's Journal of Physics Special Topics.

The journal is published every year, and features original short papers written by students in the final year of their four-year Master of Physics degree.

The students are encouraged to be imaginative with their topics, and the aim is for them to learn about aspects of publishing and peer review.

Students James Forster, Mark Bryan and Alex Stone first calculated the force needed to stop the four R160 New York City subway cars.

To do this, they used the momentum of the train at full speed, the time it takes the train to come to rest after the webs are attached, and the driving force of the powered R160 subway car.

The students found the force Spiderman's webs exert on the train to be 300,000 newtons.

They were then able to calculate the strength and toughness of the webs.

They found that the Young's modulus -- or stiffness -- of the web would be 3.12 gigapascals. This is very reasonable for spider's silk, which ranges from 1.5 gigapascals to 12 gigapascals in the orb-weaver spiders.

The toughness of the silk was calculated as almost 500 megajoules per cubic metre. This is in line with web from a Darwin's Bark Spider -- an orb-weaver with the strongest known webbing of any spider.

They conclude that the "friendly neighbourhood" superhero's webbing is indeed a proportional equivalent of that of a real spider -- and, consequently, it would be feasible for him to stop a moving train.

Alex Stone, 21, from Kingston upon Thames, said: "It is often quoted that spider-webs are stronger than steel, so we thought it would be interesting to see whether this held true for Spiderman's scaled up version. Considering the subject matter we were surprised to find out that the webbing was portrayed accurately."

James Forster, 22, from Wisbech, said: "While our work may not seem to be very serious it has helped teach us about applying physics to varying situations as well as the peer review process through which scientific journals operate. This makes it an invaluable experience to anyone who wants to go into research later in life."

Course leader Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer at the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "A lot of the papers published in the Journal are on subjects that are amusing, topical, or a bit off-the-wall. Our fourth years are nothing if not creative!


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Bryan, J. Forster and A. Stone. Doing whatever a spider can. Journal of Physics Special Topics, 2013 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Spiderman's webbing would be strong enough to stop a moving train, say physics students." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130225092040.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2013, February 25). Spiderman's webbing would be strong enough to stop a moving train, say physics students. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130225092040.htm
University of Leicester. "Spiderman's webbing would be strong enough to stop a moving train, say physics students." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130225092040.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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