GRABER: When spiders weave their web, they create amazingly strong silk to snag bugs, silk that's stronger than steel. And, unlike the synthetic fiber industry, spiders don't use or produce harmful chemicals, and the finished product is recyclable. Scientists have long looked to spider silk to potentially replace synthetics in products such as medical sutures, climbing ropes, even bulletproof clothing. But they're just beginning to figure out how silk is made. They've decoded the way spiders add small amounts of acid and potassium ions to help unwind special protein molecules. This process turns the liquid into very tough fibers encased in small amounts of goo. Scientists are now attempting to duplicate this process and hope to have the first testing rig up and running in six months. That's this week's technology update. I'm Cynthia Graber.
CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.
You can hear our program anytime on our Web site. The address is www.loe.org. That's www.loe.org. And while you're online, send your comments to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once again, email@example.com. Our postal address is 8 Story Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138. And you can reach our listener line at 800-218-9988. That's 800-218-9988. CDs, tapes, and transcripts are $15.
(Music up and under: Andre Segovia, "Spanish Guitar")
CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. And coming up: Life in a tunnel that straddles the U.S.-Mexican border. But first...
(Music up and under)
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth