Tuesday, June 22, 2010
New Scientist reports: [edited]
Ali Dhinojwala of the University of Akron in Ohio used microscopic probes to test beads of glue on an orb spider's web and found that elasticity was key. He calculates that the combination of sticky and stretchy makes the glue 100 times stronger than previously thought.
The glue was stickier when the probe was pulled away quickly, and more elastic when it was pulled slowly. The web is stickiest when prey slams into it. As the trapped prey struggles to escape, the glue becomes more elastic to absorb its slowed movements.