Exceptional Spider Silk
To the average person, a spider’s web looks rather weak and flimsy. With the greatest of ease, a person can destroy a web. In only a second, the spider’s house is razed with the wave of a hand. Even Job’s uninspired friend, Bildad, testified of the fragileness of webs when he likened the unrighteous to those “whose trust is a spider’s web” (Job 8:14), who are leaning upon a house that easily perishes. So why are scientists increasingly mesmerized by the spider’s silk webbing?
Scientists are so enamored with spider silk because it has an “exceptional capacity to absorb kinetic energy” (Cunningham, 2007). Although it may not seem strong and tough from the vantage point of a human who easily can tear down a spider’s web, pound-for-pound, the silk from certain kinds of spiders is five times stronger than steel. What’s more, it can stretch 30 percent farther than the stretchiest known nylon, and is twice as flexible. Scientists have discovered that spider silk can even stretch 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. In fact, due to its amazing strength and flexibility, it has been said that you could stop a jumbo jet in mid-flight with a spider web made of silk only one centimeter thick.
Since harvesting silk from spiders is impractical, scientists are attempting to make synthetic “spider silk” that could be used for countless things, including bulletproof vests, bridge suspension cables, and artificial tendons. Scientists especially covet the silk’s “exceptional capacity to absorb kinetic energy” and are hoping to copy what they call its “winning formula.” How have scientists fared thus far? In truth, even “[t]he best industrial fibers don’t absorb as much kinetic energy as spider silk does.... Despite years of research, scientists still can’t make a material as tough as the silk found within a spider web” (Cunningham, emp. added). Zoologist Chris Holland admitted that synthetic fibers “can’t even come close to” equaling the amazing qualities of spider-produced silk (as quoted in Cunningham).
What explanation do scientists give for the origin of spiders and their exceptional silk? To what do we owe this “winning formula” that intelligent scientists have been attempting to copy for years? According to Holland, “[s]piders...evolved the capacity to spin silk” (as quoted in Cunningham, emp. added). The mastermind behind the unequalled, “energy-efficient, high-performance” fibers in spider silk is, allegedly, mindless evolution. Truly, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).
Cunningham, Aimee (2007), “Taken for a Spin,” Science News, April 14, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20070414/bob8.asp.