Thought for the month

“You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young." "Why, what did she tell you?" "I don't know, I didn't listen.” From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, Author (1952-2001)

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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