Everyone knows that spiders use silk to make webs, and spider webs are a natural fiber made of protein. Now, the strong, elastic, and sticky silk spit out by spiders has inspired researchers.
When you think of spider webs, you are most likely to think of spherical weaver webs: flat, round, with radial spokes around which the spider builds a spiral web. However, most spider webs are not of this type, but are constructed in a three-dimensional manner, such as sheet webs, tangled webs, and funnel webs.
To explore the structure of these types of webs, the research team placed a tropical tent web spider in a rectangular enclosure and waited for it to fill the space with a three-dimensional web. Then, they used a sheet-like laser to illuminate and create a high-resolution image of the two-dimensional cross-section of the network.
What if these strings were modeled as vibrating objects? Recently, some scientists said that they used spider webs to create music. They convert the structure of spider webs into music, which may be applied to improve 3D printers, cross-species communication, and stimulate music creation.
Spiders have poor eyesight: they perceive the world through vibrations of different frequencies. The body and legs of spiders are covered with tiny hairs and gaps, which can distinguish different kinds of vibrations.
When the spider stretches the silk thread while weaving the web, or the prey strays into the web, the vibration sound is very different from the churning sound of another spider or the breeze. Each thread of a web produces a different tone. .
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have long been interested in music, wondering if they can extract rhythm and melody from spider webs. They think this may be a new source of musical inspiration.
In addition, we can experience spider webs through hearing and vision, hoping to have a new understanding of the three-dimensional structure and structure of spider webs.
To this end, the scientists scanned a natural spider web with a laser. Using computer algorithms, they reconstructed the three-dimensional network of the spider web.
Then, they assigned sounds of different frequencies to the spider webs to create “music notes” and combined them into patterns based on the three-dimensional structure of the spider webs to produce a melody. The research team transferred these frequencies into the audible range of human ears and chose to give them a harp-like tone.
By creating a harp-like instrument, scientists played spider web music in some live performances around the world.
A few years ago, they transformed the three-dimensional structure of spider webs into music and collaborated with Argentine artist Thomas Saresno to create an interactive instrument called “Spider Canvas”.
Now, the team has improved and developed on the basis of previous work, and added an interactive virtual reality component to enable people to enter and interact with the network.
The researcher said that we made a virtual reality setup to allow people to “enter” this spider web visually and auditorily. The virtual reality environment is really intriguing, because your ears will capture structural features that you may see but cannot immediately recognize. By listening and watching at the same time, you can truly begin to understand the environment in which spiders live.
By scanning a spider web during the construction process, and converting each stage into music with different sounds, I gained an understanding of how spiders weave webs.
The sound of a harp-like instrument changes during this process, reflecting the way spiders build their webs. Therefore, the time sequence of how the spider web is constructed can be explored in the form of hearing.
After an in-depth understanding of how spiders make webs, this knowledge of how spiders make webs may help design 3D printers that “imitate spiders” that build complex microelectronics.
The way spiders “print” the web is remarkable because no support material is used, which is usually required by current 3D printing methods.
The scientists also explored how the sound of the spider web changes when it is exposed to different mechanical forces, such as stretching. They found that when the net was pulled apart in a VR environment, the tension of the strings and the sound they produced changed. At some point, when the strings are broken, they will make a snapping sound.
The team is also interested in learning how to use spider language to communicate with spiders. Within the range of the spider web, silk threads vibrate at one frequency or another, depending on their length and tension, unlike guitar strings.
They recorded the vibrations of the web when the spider performed different activities, such as building a web, communicating with other spiders, or sending courtship signals. Although these frequencies sound similar in the human ear, a machine learning algorithm correctly divides these sounds into different activities.
Researchers are trying to generate synthetic signals to express spider language. “If we expose them to certain rhythms or vibrations, can we influence their behavior, and can we start communicating with them? These are all fascinating ideas.” Maybe one day, humans can chat with spiders, can play a song together, and play together.