Physics Students Prove Spider-Man's Webs Really Could Stop a Train

Physics Students Prove Spider-Man's Webs Really Could Stop a Train

Feb 26, 2013

A radioactive spider bite gave Peter Parker some wicked super powers — one which developed as a biological transformation. We're talking about his web-shooting prowess, of course. Initially, though, Parker created wrist-mounted web shooters that gave him the ability to fire adhesive webbing. Eventually he ditched the web cartridges and went au natural. In the comics and films, Spider-Man's weblines have allowed him to scale impossibly tall buildings, halt a runaway train dead in its tracks, and take Hulk as his prisoner, but is his webbing really strong enough to do all that stuff?

University of Leicester physics students put Spidey's web powers to the test in the real world. They discovered that the superhero's web is proportional to that of real spiders, and it would be entirely possible for him to perform the crazy feats fans applaud him for. After a few smarty pants calculations about force, speed and newtons (we haven't eaten those since we were a kid), they compared their findings to the strength of actual spider silk emitted from orb-weaver spiders like Darwin's bark spider — the big daddy of the spider universe when it comes to the strongest webbing.

Said one of the student researchers: "While our work may not seem to be very serious it has helped teach us about applying physics to varying situations as well as the peer-review process through which scientific journals operate. This makes it an invaluable experience to anyone who wants to go into research later in life."

Science continues to be awesome.

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