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Super-Microscope Used to Seek Answers About Strength of Spider Silk

on November 15, 2008
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BBC News: “‘Super-Microscope’ Opens at Isis” An amazing new human creation is a reminder of one of God’s amazing creations.

The new Isis target station 2 “super-microscope” represents some of the most modern human technology. It is designed to fire subatomic particles at objects (specifically proteins and bio-polymers) to “photograph” them on a microscopic level.

Silk spun by the orb-weaving spider is five times stronger than steel and three times more elastic than Kevlar.

The Oxford Silk Group is particularly interested in the technology, as it should shed light on one of the Creator’s most elusive—and incredible—handiworks: silk. A BBC News report reminds us that silk spun by the orb-weaving spider is five times stronger than steel and three times more elastic than Kevlar; meanwhile, silkworms can produce up to a kilometer of silk thread in just a few days.

Scientists know the ingredients of the liquid “dope” spiders and silkworms form the silk out of, and they know the structure of spinning glands, yet they haven’t been able to produce silk in the lab. “[W]hy can’t we create a fiber as good as the spider?” asks Chris Holland, an Isis researcher.

While the older Isis target station 1 has taken a close look at silkworm dope, the neutron beam at target station 2 is 20 to 40 times brighter, with detectors “better positioned” for studying biological materials. That gives researchers hope that under closer examination, they will learn enough about natural silk production to replicate the process in the lab and, perhaps someday, in the factory.

Spending all this money and using the latest human technology to try to decode one of nature’s seemingly simple yet elusive marvels (a “miracle material,” as the BBC aptly calls it)—if there’s a more ironic reminder of God’s incredible designs, we’re not aware of it!

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