:: Running from the Thought Police ::

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:: Monday, December 20, 2004 ::

Loads Of Coolness

Scientists have figured out how to manufacture spider silk.

The development, carried out during the past two years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, potentially paves the way for commercial development of the fiber, said to be stronger than silk.

The webs, created in a laboratory from genes found in the bodies of spiders, contain almost identical properties to genuine spider webs.

...Scientists have been trying for years to produce webs that have the same properties as those made by spiders.

In order to duplicate the proteins found in spider webs, the scientists used genes from garden spiders, which contain a protein known as dragline silk, a strong and elastic fiber.

"We developed a methodology for producing great quantities of the appropriate proteins, which is based on infecting the insect cells with the genetically engineered virus, in order to produce the fiber," said developmental biologist Dr. Uri Gat, one of the scientists involved in the research.

Potential industrial uses for the manufactured web -- which has a diameter of one-thousandth of a millimeter -- include surgical thread, bullet-proof vests, micro-conductors, optical fibers and fishing rods.

I'm sure that there are material science engineers the world over having miscellaneous bodily emissions in joy over this. For its size, spider silk is one of the strongest materials known to man. The applications for synthetic spider silk will be interesting to see.

:: The Squire 10:51 PM :: email this post :: ::


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