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How Spider Webs Respond to Stress
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How Spider Webs Respond to Stress

June 26, 2012
This hierarchical depiction shows how a spider web responds to stress, spanning from the web scale to the scale of protein molecules only nanometers, or billionths of a meter, across. When a force strikes the web, such as that from a trapped fly, the web deforms in distinct ways at multiple scales yet fails only where silk threads are under the most stress. The web manages that feat because of slipping that takes place within the spider-silk protein molecules. The result is compensation for some stress, yet sacrificial failure when stress becomes extreme, preserving the web as a whole. Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation, in collaboration with S. Cranford, G. Bratzel and M.J. Buehler (all three from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Rihcard C. Yu and Andaluz Yu of Green Pacific Biologicals