A Gossamer World

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

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#

 

Drawings made to provide a pattern or give instructions

arch. Ulm Minster was first planned in the mid-14th century and was one of the most  ambitious projects for a religious building promoted by townspeople in the late  Middle Ages. Lutz Krafft, the burgomaster, laid the foundation stone for the new  parish church of the Heilige Jungfrau Maria in 1377. In 1446 Ulm acquired the  patronage and parish rights from the monastery of Reichenau. A statement of  account from 1387 names the first three consecutive architects as members of the  Parler von Ulm family. Ulrich von Ensingen became Master of the Works in 1392  and presided over the most important building phase (1392-1419). The  consecration took place in 1405 while the minster was still only partially  complete. Hans Kun was appointed architect in 1417 and was succeeded by his son  Kaspar Kun in 1435. In 1446, Matthäus Ensinger became Master of the Works and  was succeeded by his son Moritz Ensinger in 1465 (his position was confirmed in  1470). After Moritz Ensinger’s premature departure in 1477, Matthäus Böblinger  from Esslingen was appointed and given life tenure. The Augsburg mason Burkhard  Engelberg replaced Böblinger as minster architect in 1494/5. From 1518 Bernhard  Winkler was appointed Master of Works until the Reformation put an end to  construction work in 1531. The next important building phase started in 1844  under architect Ferdinand Thrän. The west tower which had been abandoned for  centuries as a stump was completed on the basis of Matthäus Böblinger’s drawing  by the architect August von Beyer by 1890.

Although this architectural drawing probably dates from the period of work on  the third storey of the tower, the lower parts of the tower are not drawn as  built but use the same proportions as drawn in a design of about 1399 attributed  to Ulrich von Ensingen in the Ulm Stadaarchiv. The earlier drawing  is a partial elevation of the west tower. Both are drawn to the same scale.  There are a couple of differences between the two drawings; firstly that the  later drawing proposes more concentrated proportions for the second storey which  is located above the St Martin’s window, and secondly that the two storeys of  the octagon are much more slender (this can be seen in the section of the  drawing that is at Ulm). The draughtsman may have been inspired by older  architectural drawings (Wortmann, 1978) as some ‘modernisations’ of detail, like  the depiction of the bases of the portals are drawn in a typically end of the  gothic period manner. The later drawing is a variant of the earlier drawing  rather than a new proposal.

Victoria and Albert Museum

  • The main organ of the church was destroyed by iconoclasts and replaced in the late 16th century. In 1763 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  played it.
  • In 1877, the Jewish congregation of the synagogue of Ulm – including Hermann Einstein, the father of Albert Einstein – donated money for a statue of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah.

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