Spiders are not only skilled engineers and builders, but also excellent musicians – they just don’t know this. A team of researchers has actually translated cobwebs into sound waves: a curious study, yet its results will find application in different sectors of science and technology, from communication between different species to 3D modeling and printing.
Correct vibrations. Spiders, as Marcus Boehler, the MIT researcher in charge of the project, don’t see particularly well: They get a lot of information about the outside world through the web’s vibrations. For example, catching prey or breaking a part of its trap.
Buehelr, who was passionate about music and composing, among other things, wanted to convert cobweb geometry into sounds and notes: the researcher scanned several cobwebs with a 2D scanner and reconstructed their structure with computer aidedness. Dimensions. Then link each strand with a sound, and incorporate the different sounds into notes based on the 3D structure of the web. The result is a melody that appears to be played with an instrument that resembles a harp.
Inside a spider web. Researchers have also created a virtual reality app that allows you to physically enter the spider’s web and explore it by walking inside it. To understand how spiders build the web, the researchers surveyed their real-time perception. Then they assigned a different set of sounds to each building step: This way the final melody allows you to explore and continue building a complex project like a spider’s web. From a practical point of view, this reconstruction could be used to develop 3D printers that simulate spiders’ weaving processes for use in making small electronic circuits.
The word spider. Another goal of scientists is to understand how spiders communicate with each other. To do this, they analyzed the vibrations of the web at different moments of the spider’s life: during weaving, when capturing prey, during courtship. Then they analyzed the sounds produced by these vibrations with computer assistance and tried to reproduce them, and found that they actually affect the animals’ behavior. An interesting finding could pave the way, for example, for nonviolent regimes to remove them from our homes.