A Gossamer World

spider-webAugust Johann Rösel von Rosenhof (1705-1759)

Two years ago, a research team led by the University of Oxford revealed that, when plucked like a guitar string, spider silk transmits vibrations across a wide range of frequencies, carrying information about prey, mates and even the structural integrity of a web.
Now, a new collaboration between Oxford and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid has confirmed that spider webs are superbly tuned instruments for vibration transmission.

Web-dwelling spiders have poor vision and rely almost exclusively on web vibrations for their ‘view’ of the world.
The musical patterns coming from their tuned webs provide them with crucial information on the type of prey caught in the web and of predators approaching, as well as the quality of prospective mates.
Spiders carefully engineer their webs out of a range of silks to control web architecture, tension and stiffness, analogous to constructing and tuning a musical instrument.

High-powered lasers were able to experimentally measure the ultra-small vibrations, which allowed the team to generate and test computer models using mathematical finite element analysis.

Professor Fritz Vollrath, Head of the Oxford Silk Group, added: ‘It is down to the interaction of the web materials, a range of bespoke web silks, and the spider with its highly tuned behaviour and armoury of sensors that allows this virtually blind animal to operate in a gossamer world of its own making, without vision and only relying on feeling. Perhaps the web spider can teach us something new about virtual vision.’


‘Tuning the instrument: sonic properties in the spider’s web’ is published in Journal of the Royal Society http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2016-09-07-tuning-instrument-spider-webs-vibration-transmission-structures#



When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe – John Muir

“In My Orchard”
 Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857–1941), English architect, and furniture & textile designer

Fruit Wallpaper from Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.

charles rennie mackintosh aconite

Charles Rennie Mackintosh  1868 – 1928

easter b
Johann Conrad Gilbert (1734–1812)

One of the earliest known American depictions of the Easter Bunny, this drawing is an example of a Pennsylvania German tradition of decorated manuscripts known as fraktur, which include birth and baptismal certificates, family records, writing samples, and bookplates.