How Realistic Is Spider-Man’s Web Slinging Antics?

How Realistic Is Spider-Man’s Web Slinging Antics?


In the recent film starting Tom Holland, Peter Parker cooks up his own webbing in his high-school chemistry class. Now, he could have made
it out of anything, like fishing line or even steel, and yet he chooses to
replicate spider silk. Spider silk. This kid is trusting his life
to a flimsy-looking strand of arachnid goo. But it turns out, if Peter’s web is anything like real spider silk, then his web-slinging
antics are more realistic than they might appear. Now, spider silk doesn’t
look very durable. After all, a strand can
be as little as 1/40 the thickness of a human hair, but, pound for pound,
it’s stronger than steel. So if you twisted spider
silk into a thread that was 2 millimeters wide, as thick as a strand of spaghetti, it could support 900
pounds before breaking, strong enough for a
polar bear to hang from. So a scrawny kid, like
Spider-Man? He’s got this. Jim Kakalios: And that’s just for a 2-millimeter-diameter webbing. If he needs more, he just
makes it a little bit thicker, and it could support even more weight. Narrator: That’s physicist Jim Kakalios, the author of “The
Physics of Superheroes.” He says that the secret
to spider silk’s strength is its structure. Real spider silk has two major components: extremely rigid nanocrystals
that make the silk sturdy and stretchy, elastic
polymers that make it pliable. That combination of tough and flexible makes the silk extremely hard to tear, and, if you look at Peter’s lab notes, it looks like he tries to
mimic that same structure. Kakalios: So, it looks like it
is a set of organic molecules that he is using, and he’s trying to combine them in ways to polymerize them, to basically take these complex molecules and link them together in longer chains that would then presumably fold down and develop these nanocrystals and the elastic polymers. Narrator: But Peter may
have gone one step further and actually made one improvement
to his synthetic silk. Kakalios: I think that, instead
of these little nanocrystals of proteins that spiders use, he might be using carbon nanotubes to provide the strength and rigidity. Narrator: Carbon nanotubes are basically a sheet of carbon atoms that’s been rolled up into a tube. And if Jim’s right, Peter is
one smart high-school student, because these tiny tubes are actually some of
the strongest material known to humans. In fact, they’re over 100
times as strong as steel. And that’s when they’re microscopic. So, a spaghetti-thin strand of this stuff, like what we see in “Spider-Man”? It could support far more
than just 900 pounds. Kakalios: That would be able to support over 40,000 pounds. Narrator: Suddenly that ferry scene doesn’t seem so far-fetched, especially since we have the technology to make those nanotubes in real life. Scientists at the University
of Cincinnati, for example, have figured out how to grow
carbon nanotubes in a lab and then spool them into threads. Sadly, those threads aren’t meant for
skyscraper-swinging antics. The researcher’s goal
is a tad more practical. Kakalios: If you could manufacture it and make threads out of carbon nanotubes, you could make lightweight clothing that would be stronger than Kevlar. Narrator: So, when you
really think about it, the most unrealistic thing about Peter Parker’s homemade webbing is that a high schooler
figured out how to make it in his chem class.

31 Comments

  1. Plottwist tue scientists lied to us and use that for themselfes to be like spiderman but they dont tell us . Also they are playing with the webs in area 51 :^)

  2. The thumbnail gets me every time. This is the 6th times it's been recommended and I just wanna click because of the attractive symmetrical eyes.🤦‍♂

  3. I still think organic webs were more realistic even if not comics accurate… I mean where does a kid even take all the things necessary to fabricate the web shooters and also wouldn't his webs risk to end at some point while he is doing spiderman's stuff? If they are something he just makes it means they are not unlimited. But if it's something his body produces then it's more believable.

  4. So that time in the spiderman video game when he made the force field (even though a force field would technically be a much different thing) out of webs, its actually a viable method of protection.

  5. I always thought spider man could make his own webs. Like legit spider webs. I never read the comments but I made sense that he would have the power to generate actual spider webs.

  6. 2 things: one he didn’t choose to use webs two after he lost his powers he made his own webs that weren’t 💯 percent web

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