A spider's web

21st September 2001 at 01:00
A spider's web has amazing properties. Its silk is one micron thick, or about 1100 the thickness of human hair: as light as gossamer, we say. Spinning a liquid that solidifies on contact with the air, spiders weave orb, tangle, sheet and funnel webs. Every radius and angle creates mathematical delights. Not only do the spirals in such webs exemplify the Fibonacci sequence and equiangular spirals, but the orb-weaving spider's thread can be used to calculate Young's modulus (E equals sigma over epsilon) a formula for relating elasticity to stress divided by strain. The spider's capture spiral is three times as tensile as steel, to absorb the energy of its flying insect prey, while its light weight enables it to withstand damage from wind. When the webs bend round into funnels and orbs, they stretch, too, into non-Euclidean geometry and topology. For ideas on using spider's webs in class, try www.ruf.rice.eduwinklerspidermath.htmlFor an explanation of Young's modulus, www.tiem.utk.edumbealsspider.html

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now