text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
Search Multimedia
Image
Video
Audio
More
Multimedia in the News
NSF Executive Staff
News Archive
 

Email this pagePrint this page
"Stick-Two-Ative" -- The Discovery Files


The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 405-875-0058 on any telephone.

Scientists at the University of Akron discover that spiders' design mastery allows them to create webs that stick to the ground and to elevated surfaces differently.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Stick-two-ative.

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

University of Akron biologists and polymer scientists aren't creeped out by spiders--they're intrigued and even inspired by them. In particular, a trait they discovered that spiders demonstrate when creating webs. You might call it 'spidey sense.' If you're a spider, you have two different kinds of prey: Flying meals and crawling ones. So you can employ two different strategies with your web.

To catch insects flying at high velocity, (Sound effect: sound) the spider creates super sticky adhesive disks, which firmly anchor webs to ceilings and vertical surfaces. To nab those ground-bound bugs (Sound effect: sound), it makes adhesive discs with weak attachments, that snap away from the ground and leave prey suspended in the air. By the way, a spider only makes one kind of glue--how does it work for both applications?

The researchers believe that these two degrees of adhesion have nothing to do with the chemical makeup of the glue, but rather the spinning behaviors of the spider. They're studying this key natural design principle to see if we can emulate it in beneficial applications. Everything from industrial-strength tape to adhesives strong enough to bind sutures to heal a fractured shoulder yet delicate enough for 'ouch-free' bandages.

Who ever thought we'd be learning web apps from a spider?

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's national science foundation. Federally sponsored research--brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.

 
General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

MP3 icon
NSF podcasts are in mp3 format for easy download to desktop and laptops, as well as mobile devices capable of playing them.

 



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page