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Name:  Marian S.
Status: student
Age: 14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 10/16/2004

How can I measure the tensile strength of a spider web?


I am imagining that this will be a very difficult problem. For one thing, studying actual webs that a spider is still using strikes me as unsavory as you would be literally destroying a spider's home and means of obtaining food. On the other hand, studying old webs (that have turned into cobwebs) includes an additional parameter of time - older webs are partially degraded and therefore less strong. Moreover, different spiders at different ages probably make different strength webs. Before I would go about measuring spider web strengths, I would check books to see if there is already data out there with such information.

On the other hand, if you feel that you really want to measure the strength of a web on your own (remembering that different spiders may make different strength webs), I would consider dropping different weights from a particular height onto single strands of webbing to see at what point the web breaks.

Greg (Roberto Gregorius)

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