Story at a glance

  • Scientists are studying the unique way in which spiders construct their webs, which don’t need supports like many human constructions do.
  • Using virtual reality, researchers have found a way to translate spiders’ webs into music.
  • Future experiments could involve finding ways to communicate with the arachnoids.

"Charlotte’s Web" might have had more than just a message for the characters in the children’s book from E.B. Williams; it may have held a song. Now, researchers have discovered “a new source for musical inspiration” in spiders’ webs. 

"The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings," said Markus Buehler, the project's principal investigator, in a brief published by the American Chemical Society. "They don't see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies."


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

RARE ANIMAL PHOTOGRAPHED ALIVE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE WILD

WORLD’S RAREST GREAT APE IS ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION

THE CONTROVERSY OVER WILDLIFE KILLING CONTESTS

SURPRISING STUDY FINDS SHARKS ARE KEY TO RESTORING DAMAGED HABITATS, FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE


After assigning different frequencies of sound to strands of the web, it was time to play, recreating the process of a spider building the web and creating music in the process. Researchers created a virtual reality setup that allowed them to "enter" the web, both visually and audibly. In one experiment, scientists pulled the web apart, changing the tension of the strings and the sounds they produce — until they snapped. 

"The virtual reality environment is really intriguing because your ears are going to pick up structural features that you might see but not immediately recognize," Buehler said. "By hearing it and seeing it at the same time, you can really start to understand the environment the spider lives in."


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


It is just the start for scientists, who hope that these findings could be the key to learning more about these arachnoids and even, perhaps, communicating with them. 

"Now we're trying to generate synthetic signals to basically speak the language of the spider," Buehler says. "If we expose them to certain patterns of rhythms or vibrations, can we affect what they do, and can we begin to communicate with them? Those are really exciting ideas."

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/s4QtAQhdU2I" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

ELON MUSK PARTNER SAYS HE COULD BUILD THE REAL ‘JURASSIC PARK,’ WITH GENETICALLY ENGINEERED DINOSAURS

SCIENCE NOW SAYS YOU CAN JUDGE PEOPLE BY THEIR TASTE IN MUSIC

NASA SAYS SPECTACULAR PHOTO OF MARS RAINBOW ISN’T REAL

IN A BREAKTHROUGH RESEARCHERS IDENTIFY CANCER CELLS BY THEIR ACIDITY

NEW BIOINK GETS SCIENTISTS CLOSER TO BEING ABLE TO PRINT HUMAN ORGANS


 

Published on Apr 14, 2021