Spiders are well known to be master builders, although recent research shows that, they can also be good singers as well. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can detect music made from the soil of their delicate webs (MIT).
As with every other stringed instrument, the thickness and duration of each strand correspond to a frequency. The sounds have been described as “harp-like” with the help of a haunting synth pad.
Dr Markus Buehler, the project’s lead researcher, has long been fascinated by the relationship between music and science. He set out to learn how to derive rhythms and melodies from natural materials.
Buehler believes that “webs may be a modern source of musical inspiration that is very different from the ordinary human experience.”
To hear the bizarre sounds, please click the link below.
How did they do it?
Spiders, despite having eight eyes, are blind by human standards. They perceive the world through touch and sound in minute detail.
To “hear” their webs, Buehler and his team collaborated with Argentine contemporary artist Tomás Saraceno.
A natural spider web was laser scanned to capture 2D cross-sections, which were then recreated in 3D using computer programming. The team allocated various sound frequencies to different strands of the web, resulting in the creation of ‘notes’ within the web’s structure.
The team was able to connect various parts of the web with different frequencies, resulting in spider web music being played in live exhibitions around the world.
They made several scans of the web’s construction to gain further insight into the process, translating the sounds to relay a soundtrack of the stunning production.
Entering the internet
Scientists have long claimed that spider web silk is five times stronger than steel. It has been proposed that a single strand could bring a Boeing 747 down in mid-flight.
MIT’s work with virtual reality was critical to the experiment’s understanding of how we perceive their mechanisms. Scientists were able to and “enter” the web via machine to gain a better understanding of how spiders build and occupy their homes.
“The virtual reality world is fascinating because your ears can pick up structural features that you can see but not recognize,” says Buehler. “By listening and seeing it at the same time, you can begin to understand the spider’s world.”
Spider sounds in the future
These results are like those made by Oxford University in 2014 when they discovered that a spider’s inherent sense of pitch enables it to take part in sophisticated web tuning.
“The spider can yank or bounce the silk strings, and it can track the echoes that return to identify objects,” lecturer Beth Mortimer explained at the time.
Both experiments have exciting communication implications: spiders may be able to construct note sequences to communicate with other spiders. By speaking in their language, humans will be able to gain a deeper understanding of intelligent arachnids.
“They are attempting to find significant signals to speak the spider’s language,” Buehler says.
“Can we influence what they do and begin to interact with them if we expose them to such rhythmic or vibrational patterns?” Those are some very exciting concepts.