Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spider Sunday 2-12-12

Another Spider Sunday! Also, happy Darwin Day! Go appreciate some biological diversity today.

Scientists discover "most stretchable" spider silk in Italy
Researchers have identified the most stretchable egg sac ever tested. I'd say I felt like my egg sac was stretched when I was pregnant, but I've been informed that comparing parts of my own anatomy to those of arachnids "really isn't sexy, and you should stop doing it. Seriously. Stop it." Hmph. Anyway, super cool discovery not only because of the spider, but for potential nanomaterials design.

Spiders to remain kings of the castle during restoration work
Clan MacDougall, medieval kings ... and cave spiders! They're restoring an old Scottish castle, and saving the spiders that nest in its wall! Awesome squared.

Le sigh, headline and lede writers
A cobweb-like substance has been found on spent uranium rods at the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina. Cue the Spider-Man references, "mutant spider worries," and headline writers generally losing all desire for accuracy or self control. The substance hasn't even been positively identified, though it does seem to be biological. Even if it was made by a mutated spider, "mutated" to a scientist isn't always what the public imagines when they hear "mutant." No superpower-granting arachnids here, sadly.

In honor of Darwin Day:
A spider found by Darwin 180 years ago, and promptly lost. It was found again.
A spider that was named in honor of Charles Darwin, on the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. Also, it spins huge webs from silk that's stronger than Kevlar.

An accessory that might actually capture my interest
Maybe a more flowery example of spider-silk milking to match last week's black widow story -- I've heard of this guy, Simon Peers, a few years ago when he created a scarf with wild-caught orb weavers. Now he's made a golden spider-embroidered cape. Apparently, he was inspired by mid 17th and 19th century accounts of the enormously time-consuming technique. They release all the spiders, too!

That's it for now. More spiders next week. (Or earlier, probably.)