Presentation and Preparation

We created three experiments, each used to evaluate the resistance of the spider web. To create these experiences, we chose three different patterns more or less inspired by the spider web itself. A first, which is a simplified imitation of the spider’s web. A second, which is a pattern slightly inspired by it. The last, a checkered pattern. In total, we created nine webs. The first group of three includes all shapes made with a limit of eight attachment points. For these webs, we used 3 meters of string. The second group also has a different shape, however this time the limit is set at twelve attachment points, therefore we used 4 meters of string. On the last three, we set a limit of sixteen attachment points for which we used 5 meters of string. These hand-made webs were used in our three experiments. 100g, 200g, 300g, 400g, 500g and 600g. These weights were used for Experiments 1 and 2. For the last experiment we used weights of 1 to 5 g.

For our experiments the terms F1; F2; F3; A8; A12 and A16 are used. F represents the shape, F3 being the spider web, F2 the checkered pattern and F1 the spider web without the center spirals. A represents the number of attachment points.

Our webs:

F2A16

F3A16

F1A16

F2A12

F3A12

F1A12

F2A8

F3A8

F1A8

  • First Experiment: The first experiment consists in appling a weight to a central point of each web. Thus, we took each web one at a time, delicately placed on the edges of the stools and we applied all the different weights at a central point. Each time, we captured an image of the web to measure its deformation.
  • Second Experiment: The second experiment is very similar to the first. However, the weight was distributed all over the web. To do so, we cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of a smaller circle, and placed it on the web itself. Afterwards, we displayed the weights over that cardboard. Finally, we took pictures.
  • Third Experiment: This experiment is a different approach, because instead of measuring how much the web has been deformed by each weight, we measured the maximum weight that the web may support before making any deformation.                                                                                          

To study the disfigurements made to the webs we used the software Mesurim. We measured the angle between the webs initial position and after the weight was applied.

Expected results:

Before the realisation of these tests, we expected to find in our results, that the spider web pattern was the most resistant. This is because some of the most well-known characteristics of spider webs are: That they are five times more resistant than iron, that they have very considerable capacity to absorb shocks and that ten times more energy to break the web would be needed, than any other biological material. Also the hierarchical design gives spider webs a damage tolerance. So when a damage occurs on a spider web the force distribution remains unchanged, therefore, the web keeps it’s initial strength.

Difficulties encountered:

In the making of the webs and the preparation of the experiments, we encountered a few problems. First of all, the precision of our original webs that was questionnable. So we had to redo every web but we also increased the number of webs, for our experiments. Furthermore, the other difficulty was the stability of the webs for our experiments. Because to make the measurements, it was necessary that the camera and the webs be on the same plane. So, we had to redo these pictures a few times.

Experiment set-up:

Old webs:

Here is one of our original webs. This particular one is the checkered pattern. As you can see the string here is very thin, so the web was not solid enough to go through our three experiments. Further more, the circular base was not a steel ring, but a plastic tub cut into different pieces. Because of this, when we took the measurements of their deformation, it was very hard to measure, as the base was large and not totally transparent. For these reasons, we decided to start from scratch, even thought that meant that we had lost a lot of time.

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