Japanese scientist and music lover, Shigeyoshi Osaki, has discovered that spider silk can be spun into much more the pesky cobwebs. After studying the eight-legged creepers and their silky habits for over 30 years at the Nara Medical Univeristy, Osaki found that the silk can actually be twisted into violin stings. Stronger and more agile than steel, nylon, and gut, the spider silk strings may be the future of violin mechanics. And as for sound, a seasoned violinist strapped the silk strands to a Stradivarius and played Tchaikovsky just as beautifully, if not better, than with more traditional string materials.
Osaki first coaxed the spiders in his lab to spin much longer strands of dragline, the strongest silk usually used for the spider’s outer web rim and lifeline. He then twisted the hair-thin filaments together, packing them tightly to create a strand as thick as a violin string. The thickest of them all, the G-string, holds 15,000 filaments.
The most remarkable result of this experiment is the unique sound the spider silk strings offer. Right out of the lab and not even whittled to perfection like most strings, the silk material creates a first class sound. Specialists are calling it a “brilliant” timbre, due to the high harmonics of the material, rather than the typical low harmonics of steel and nylon. Spider silk is even stronger than gut strings, commonly preferred by professionals due to their rich sound and high tolerance for tension. Gut, or Catgut strings are made from the intestines of cattle, hogs, and horses, making them just as brutish, but not nearly as eco-friendly as the spider silk.
A violinist’s strings are his choice in the end, but the super strength and beautiful tone that comes from spider silk may change the status quo.
Via News Scientist
Lead image © jpockele flickr