June 30, 2011
And even more good news! Spider Silk has been longlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, which "celebrates the best in popular science writing." Wow!! The judges say, “This book uses an unlikely subject to draw out many of the major principles of biology, drawing the reader into the surprisingly fascinating world of the spider.”
June 29, 2011
We're very pleased to announce that ForeWord Reviews has named Spider Silk the Silver Award winner in the Nature Category of its Book of the Year Awards. Because we've had so much support from our publisher, Yale University Press, it's especially nice to get an award "honoring excellence in independent publishing."
June 14, 2011
A fascinating new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology has found that the silk diving bell of the European water spider, Argyroneta aquatica, is more than just a bubble-holding net: it actually functions like a gill, drawing oxygen from the surrounding water.
You can watch a water spider in action here. Notice how it pops its abdomen above the water surface to gather more air to drag back to the diving bell.
June 9, 2011
People and other animals have always adapted spider silk to their own purposes. Here's a spectacular piece of footage from Jeremy Wade's Animal Planet "River Monsters" series showing a skillful South Pacific fisherman using Nephila, or golden orb weaver, silk as an all-in-one tool. Notice the golden hue of the silk, and just how stuck into the tangled silk the fish gets. I wonder whether the aggregate silk protein glue that lies along the web's capture spiral survives its swish through the salt water and that's what the fish sticks to, or whether the fish simply gets major ampullate and flagelliform silk wound around its teeth. Thanks to Green Matter for the tip.
June 8, 2011
Here's a report of gossamer masses startling people living in the Macedon Ranges shire of Victoria, Australia. The ability of young spiders to balloon is made possible by super-strong major ampullate silk, the silk araneomorph spiders use to rappel and to construct the strongest lines of their webs. Jumping spiders use it as their safety line. You can read more about ballooning in Chapter Five of Spider Silk, "Triumph Over Thin Air." One of my life's goals is to witness such a mass gossamer waft.