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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Gotcha! Spider Silk Grabs Electrically Charged Insects in Midair
4 July 2013 9:00 am
Like socks on carpet, insects build up static electricity as they fly. And that can be a bad thing when it comes to spider webs. Certain strands of spider silk are attracted to statically charged objects, according to a new study, enhancing an arachnid's ability to catch prey. In lab tests conducted in an environment isolated from electrical fields, researchers dropped a variety of freshly killed insects down through a spider web that had been recently collected near the lab. High-speed video revealed that individual strands of spider silk, especially those flexible filaments running in spirals around the center of the web (a cross spider, Araneus diadematus, shown), flexed as much as 2 millimeters toward a statically charged insect, but wern't influenced at all by uncharged insects passing near the strands. The silk flexed quickly, too, at an average speed sometimes approaching 2 meters per second, the researchers report today in Scientific Reports. Static electricity isn't all bad for insects, however. Studies published earlier this year reveal that bugs can use the electrical fields that build up on their bodies to communicate with each other and identify flowers that might have been recently visited by another insect .
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