Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Spider Goats" Produce Super Strong Fibers Stronger Than Steel And Kevlar

Listening to Coast to Coast AM radio show they brought up a very intersting subject that I have never heard of but sounds extremely fascinating.  We all are familiar with spider webs, created by silk spun by the spider in a web pattern to catch and trap bugs and insects.  It may not seem like it but the silk that spiders create is very very strong, in fact it is stronger than steel pound for pound.  This material would be very beneficial if only we could harvest the silk.  After all how hard would it be to "milk" a bunch of spiders in order to extract enough silk to do anything with.

So how can we get enough of these super strong fibers that make up the spiders silk to actually do something with?  Well one way is to take the spiders out if the equation.  How?  Well that is where this topic gets really strange.  Apparently scientists have been able to isolate the DNA of the spider that creates the super strong silk and inject it into goats.  The goats then produce milk like any other goat, except now the milk contains similar fibers compared to those in spider silk.  In fact the goats can actually create fibers that are even stronger than the spiders silk!  These fibers can be extracted from the milk and be spun together into fabric.  As you would expect, like the spiders silk, this fabric is super strong.  In fact it is so string that it is stronger than Kevlar and can stop a bullet just like a Kevlar lined bullet proof vest, but the material that comes from the "spider goats" is so strong that much less material is needed.  This means that the super strong spider goat material can be made into a garment about as thick as a regular t-shirt  that could stop a bullet as well as a thick Kevlar vest like what police and armed forces personnel use.  And all the while these genetically altered goats go on to live a mostly normal life and don't seem to be hurt or in pain or anything like that.  The one problem that they did mention however is that these goats are all sterile after this procedure and can't have offspring, so every new generation of spider goats needs to be implanted with the spider DNA.

I think that this is absolutely amazing that people have actually figured out how to do something so incredible like this that it actually sounds like science fiction.  What else can be created in this manner?  What other applications could this super strong fiber be used for?  Only time will tell but I think that there will only be more incredible breakthroughs in the future, things that we can't even fathom being possible.