Spider Silk Science
Spider silk is strong as high grade steel, can withstand extreme temperatures, and is incredibly light—a single strand of spider silk long enough to circle the globe would weigh only 18 oz.
Unfortunately, spiders can’t be “farmed” because their silk is hard to harvest, and because spiders are territorial and cannibalistic. But University of Wyoming professor Don Jarvis and Utah State University professor Randy Lewis recently announced that they’ve successfully bred silkworms to produce silk that is 5% spider silk. This new natural polymer, dubbed “monster silk,” is produced by inserting spider genes into silkworm eggs and breeding the offspring together to create a generation of silkworms that have the capability to produce spider silk. If silkworms can eventually be bred to produce 100% spider silk, commercially harvested spider silk could be used for applications such as ultra-light airplane parts or body armor that’s light and soft as silk and stronger than Kevlar.
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