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?

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

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 April 16, 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 April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) — To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 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