Thought for the month

“Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction the sign of truth.” Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and physicist (1623 – 62).

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Marvel at Young’s Modulus

In the film Spiderman 2 the comic book hero manages to stop a runaway New York City subway train with his webbing. Calculations by physics students at Leicester University based on the weight, speed and stopping distance of the film’s four fully loaded R160 subway cars have been used to derive the mechanical properties required for Peter Parker’s webbing. They found that the Young’s modulus, or stiffness, of the web would need to have been 3.12 gigapascals (GPa). This figure is indeed compatible with naturally occurring spider's silk, which ranges from 1.5 GPa to 12 GPa in the orb-weaver spiders (family Araneidae). No webinar is available but the full paper is on-line.

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