What a Web we Weave

Thanks to Cha-Cha, who always has an answer or ten ready when I say, “Quick, gimme a blog topic!”

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Shigeyoshi Osaki, professor of polymer chemistry at Nara Medical University has created violin strings out of the silk of Nephila clavipes, or the golden orb-weaver spider.*

Doesn’t that sound beautiful and delicate and lovely, like something from Shakespeare?  Like something that should be played during  a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream?

The trick, according to Professor Osaki, is in the way the individual strands are twisted together:

We overcome the difficulties in pulling long draglines from spiders, twist bundles of dragline filaments and succeed in preparing violin strings. The twisting is found to change the cross section shapes of filaments from circular to polygonal, and to optimize the packing structure with no openings among filaments providing mechanically strong and elastic strings. The spider string signal peaks of overtones for the violin is relatively large at high frequencies, generating a soft and profound timbre. Such a preferable timbre is considered to be due to the unique polygonal packing structure which provides valuable knowledge for developing new type of materials.**

Such a dry, clinical way to describe something that sounds like this:

But I was thinking . . .

Can’t our favorite stories be described—and have been, in writing workshops or literature classes—the same way?

We overcome the difficulties in pulling long strands of imagination, twist bundles of plotline filaments and succeed in preparing a story. The twisting is found to change the shapes of characters from flat to well-rounded and to optimize the narrative with no holes or loose ends, providing a mechanically strong and emotionally satisfying story. The results generate a profound timbre in the reader’s mind. Such a preferable timbre can considered to be due partially to the structure, which provides valuable knowledge for developing new narratives.***

Such a dry, clinical way to describe things that speak to us so clearly, weave themselves into our lives, and even whisper to us with quiet joy that another name for the golden orb-weaver is the writing spider.

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*Link to a good article about it is here.

**Osaki, Shigeyoshi.  Spider silk violin strings with a unique packing structure generate a soft and profound timbre. Physical Review Letters, American Physical Society, Feb 26, 2012

***Wesson, Sarah.  Here.  Now.

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