The "spidernaut" Nefertiti has died. It was 10 months old. A "Johnson Jumper" spider, it was sent on board the International Space Station in July as part of an experiment; researchers watched to see if the spider would adapt its feeding behavior to weightlessness (it did). Nefertiti was returned to Earth after a 100-day stay, and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History then placed the spider in its insect zoo. The display opened to the public on November 29, but the spider died of natural causes yesterday morning. Rest in peace, spidernaut. [SPACE.com]
Nature’s toughest fiber can make bulletproof vests, future sutures, and even be engineered to come out of goat milk. Now a Japanese researcher has gone one step further, using spider silk for art. Specifically, a set of violin strings, which apparently have a “soft and profound timbre.”
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati performed an experiment on a type of the widespread and unnerving wolf spider that shows that these invertebrates may be much more complex than we give them credit for. The spiders were capable of observing, remembering, and mimicking mating dances, just like cast members on Jersey Shore.
A new spider robot moves delicately over uneven surfaces, carefully picking its way across debris, chemicals or other locations where a human — or a clumsier robot — could not safely tread. Unlike other spiderbots we have seen, this German robot is designed to move with care and grace.
By Jennie Walters
Posted 06.30.2011 at 11:00 am 9 Comments
Last summer’s floods in Pakistan displaced millions of people--and millions of spiders. Although spiders rarely migrate to trees during natural disasters, the flooding was so heavy and prolonged, they had to climb trees and remain there. According to University of Akron biologist Todd Blackledge, who studies web-weaving spiders, some spin new webs each day. After weeks, the dense layers of silk, seen here in Sindh province, covered the trees--a result of continuous web spinning by the eight-legged refugees.
Meet KMR-M6, a new arachnid-like robot from Japanese manufacturer Kondo Robot that you can own for just under $900. It scurries around like a curious spider, waving a leg when it encounters an obstacle and stepping gingerly to ensure even footing.
Mutant silkworms can produce miles of super-strong silk, in a new breakthrough that could lead to mass production of tough, flexible spider-silk material. Thanks to the efforts of these genetically modified spider-worms, along with spidergoats and spider-alfalfa, spider clothes may soon be upon us.
Forget the Orkin Man; with pests like this, you might need to call Ripley. Scientists have recently discovered two new, giant versions of common pests.
In this corner, hailing from Papua New Guinea and weighing in at a hefty 3.3 pounds comes the the Bosavi woolly rat. And in the other corner, in the bright yellow outfit and representing Malaysia, please welcome Heteropoda davidbowie, "the Spider from Mars."
New York City was full of mysteries this week: Who was the idiot that approved the low-flying plane? Does being near the swine flu outbreak in Queens outweigh the benefits of all the delicious ethnic food in that borough? Who misplaced their 60-pound tortoise?
Also in today's links: sadistic spider sex, questionable professional practice and more.
Most spider webs work through chance: The spider erects an invisible trap and waits until some unlucky insect hits it. But a common Australian spider called the St. Andrew’s Cross—known for its striking, cross-barred web—is sneakier.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.