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Idle Science

Spider Silk Cape Goes On Display 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the 1-million-thread-count dept.
fangmcgee writes "Before anyone asks, no, it's not bulletproof. But that doesn't mean that the glistening yellow cape—the world's largest garment made entirely from spider silk—isn't a massive feat of engineering to be marveled. Now on public display for the first time at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the textile gets its unearthly gleam from the undyed filaments of the golden orb spider, a species of arachnid commonly found in Madagascar."
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Spider Silk Cape Goes On Display

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:06AM (#38746190)

    http://theinfosphere.org/Spiderians

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:31AM (#38746246)

    Sure, bulletproof would be nice, but what I really want to know is whether it'll let me block creatures with flying.

    • by khallow (566160)
      Sure it'll block flying creatures, but then you take lethal damage from your insurer because you scuffed it.
    • by KhabaLox (1906148)

      I'd be happy if it just let me traverse the web the wizard just dropped on the entire party.

    • by Rhacman (1528815)
      Spidersilk Cape (1 forest)

      Enchant Creature

      Sacrifice Spidersilk Cape: Enchanted creature can block flying until end of turn. You may sacrifice a spider you control to return Spidersilk Cape to your hand instead of moving it to the graveyard.

      It seemed a shame that an object of such beauty was ultimately betrayed by its utility.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:44AM (#38746284)

    Godley spent five years collecting and harnessing over 1 million spiders in special “silking” contraptions to extract their threads, 24 critters at a time.

    On average, 23,000 spiders yield roughly 1 ounce of silk, making the process intensely laborious and time-consuming.

    I am amazed and impressed, but a part of me goes "wtf was the point?"

    Ah, well. That's one heck of an art project.

    • by M8e (1008767)

      Yeah, why is an british art historian wasting his time on an art project?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        More importantly, whose money is he wasting?
    • From the article:

      An 11-foot-long prototype of the spider-silk textile debuted at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in 2009, where it broke all records for most number of visitors to a single exhibit.

      Presumably, if that many people want to see it, some people might want to buy it, too. They might end up making a profit on it.

  • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @05:35AM (#38746464)
    I'm sure it cost more than the whole shire to make. On the BBC, Horizon "Playing God". They show a lab that has altered the DNA of goats so they produce spider web protients in their milk which can be harvested.Makes production more feasible. [ As they have 8 legs you get more mutton too :)] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mgxf [bbc.co.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    All that work and _that's_ what they decide to make?

    captcha: scarves

  • Kinda weird just before I read this I was just watching a show (Horizon - Playing God) where they were showing spider goats which are basicly geneticly engineered goats which make a lot of silk. I don't know if that's progress or just scary.
  • by JanneM (7445) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @05:44AM (#38746488) Homepage

    Aluminium was once phenomenally rare and expensive. Napoleon had a set of highly valued plates made of the stuff. Breakthroughs in manufacturing made it a cheap, common material. I suspect this will go the same way, with synthetic versions becoming a utilitarian material among others. The cape will become an amusing historical footnote.

    • Washington Monument (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bueller_007 (535588) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @06:41AM (#38746680)

      Not many people know it, but the apex of the Washington Monument is made of aluminum. At the time, it was the largest piece ever crafted anywhere in the world and it was a precious metal. Only two years later, aluminum became completely worthless when the Hallâ"Héroult process for mass production of pure aluminum was discovered.

    • I doubt that. What will really happen is some giant corporation with a lot of patent lawyers will buy the "intellectual property" of synthetic spider silk and it will remain expensive, nobody will do any development work with it, and it will just be an interesting high-tech material used by people that either have a lot of money or are above having to worry about IP law (but I repeat myself). So you will see it in military and aerospace equipment and that's it.
      • by StikyPad (445176)

        Why would we see it at all? TFA lists no practical advantage of using the material -- it was just an art project. With no advantage as a textile, it would only be useful as a luxury item anyway, and while I've no doubt that there's an eccentric millionaire or two about who might be interested in such a garment, it's no real loss for the rest of us that we're "stuck" with traditional materials.

        • Congratulations for noticing! Now, you can sit back with me and laugh as the engineers try to make up more concrete reasons for why this was posted on Slashdot.
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Why would we see it at all? TFA lists no practical advantage of using the material -- it was just an art project. With no advantage as a textile, it would only be useful as a luxury item anyway, and while I've no doubt that there's an eccentric millionaire or two about who might be interested in such a garment, it's no real loss for the rest of us that we're "stuck" with traditional materials.

          Spider silk is one of the strongest materials around. With an equivalent diameter, it beats out steel, carbon fiber

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I doubt that. What will really happen is some giant corporation with a lot of patent lawyers will buy the "intellectual property" of synthetic spider silk and it will remain expensive

        For twenty years when the patent runs out. Inventors are much better off than artists, who have to wait 95 years to use any artistic innovations (innovations like Howlin wolf's "uh how how how" which he sucessfully sued ZZ Top for).

        Twenty years isn't that long (inless you're 25), 95 years is literally FOREVER. I'll be 60 this y

  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Thursday January 19, 2012 @06:12AM (#38746584) Journal

    What are the capabilities of this silk? How is it superior to regular silk? I see no real facts just that it's made of spider silk and took a while? It would take me a while to fasion a life size bridge out of Lego - it doesn't mean it would be stronger than a real bridge.

    ?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There was a previous article showing that spider silk is stronger than steel weight for weight. Very cool and useful for a number of things.

    • by spectrokid (660550) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @07:10AM (#38746772) Homepage
      Many different kinds of spider silk. One spider will typically produce several kinds depending on need (tensile strength, stickyness, elasticity). But the strongest kinds will typically blow even carbon fiber out of the water when it comes to tensile strength. Lots of difficulties to overcome still, but it is a fascinating field of research
      • by Solandri (704621)
        Obligatory TED talk [ted.com].
    • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @07:15AM (#38746782) Journal

      What are the capabilities of this silk? How is it superior to regular silk? I see no real facts just that it's made of spider silk and took a while? It would take me a while to fasion a life size bridge out of Lego - it doesn't mean it would be stronger than a real bridge.

      ?

      But consider that a spider's web isn't lego so the real question is whether a bridge made from spiders silk would be stronger than a bridge made from lego? And if you had lego made from spiders silk, fashioned into a lego mindstorm robotic spider, would it make even stronger spidersilk lego blocks?

      That why they have spiderman not legoman -- duuuuh. Lego doesn't have a spidey sense.

    • The strength and elasticity of spider silk make it a good candidate for a broad range of medical and industrial applications. You can google it and get a lot of very dull web pages as a result.
    • by hey! (33014)

      It would take me a while to fasion a life size bridge out of Lego - it doesn't mean it would be stronger than a real bridge.

      Semantics nazi here.

      If you built a life size bridge out of Lego it would *be* a real bridge.

      That is all.

    • by zurmikopa (460568)

      A real bridge made out of Lego almost certainly wouldn't be stronger, but it would still be awesome.
      This one is both awesome *and* probably stronger.

  • A cape? (Score:4, Funny)

    by RoccamOccam (953524) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:14AM (#38747016)
    No capes! -- Edna Mode
    • by Bill Currie (487)

      That line alone would have been enough to make that movie good (there were plenty of other good bits, too: most definitely not the usual Hollywood used pablum).

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        A motivational speaker who used a cape was short on time, so he put it on early.

        When the cops stopped him, they asked if he decided to drive today.

  • ... But I think this spider research project [youtube.com] was a much better use of time and money.
  • The article is wrong, the cape doesn't go on display until the 25th link [vam.ac.uk]. So don't pop over and try and see it until next Wednesday.

  • ...the glistening yellow cape...

    That's an understatement. I loaded the photo of that cape in Photoshop to check the value of that yellow and I got "#ZZZZ00".

    • by Spykk (823586)
      Good ol' base 36 color values, where #GREEN0 is blue and #BLUE00 is green. At least they got #RED000 right.
  • I know this is a nerds' platform, but did nobody notice that this is gorgeous? The detail, the color, the design. Unfortunately I showed it to my wife and now she wants one...

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