Latest By

Artificial Intelligence
Data Storage
Input Devices
Living Space
Space Tech
Virtual Person

"I kind of take it for granted that our great-grandchildren will regard us as a sort of precursor species. That they won't think of us as human and if we could see them, we probably wouldn't think of them as human either."
- William Gibson

Synthetic Spider Silk  
  Artificial fabric thread as strong as steel.  

A roofed enclosure is under construction on an asteroid; the fabric will be like a tent over a small valley.

Libby concentrated for an instant, then looked puzzled. "But look -- This valley is a thousand feet long and better than five hundred wide. At half of fifteen pounds per square inch, and allowing for the arch of the roof, that's a load of one and an eighth billion pounds. What fabric can take that kind of a load?"



"Yeah, cobwebs. Strongest stuff in the world, stronger than the best steel. Synthetic spider silk, This gauge we're using for the roof has a tensile strength of four thousand pounds a running inch."

From Misfit, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1939
Additional resources -

Ordinary spider silk is very tough; it is a protein fiber that has a tensile strength comparable to that of high-grade steel and about half that of fibers like Kevlar. Efforts to make garments with it date back to 1709 (if not earlier), when gloves woven from spider silk were presented to the Academy of Science in Paris.

I can't find any clear evidence that synthetic spider silk as described by Heinlein was sought prior to the publication of the story in 1940. There have been recent attempts to create artificial or synthetic spider silk:

In 2000 Canadian biotechnology company Nexia successfully produced spider silk protein in transgenic goats which carried the gene for it; the milk produced by the goats contained significant quantities of the protein, 12 grams of silk proteins per liter of milk. Attempts to spin the protein into a fiber similar to natural spider silk resulted in fibers with tenacities of 23 grams per denier...
(From Spider Silk)

Weaving with silk from silkworms is at least 5,000 years old and silkworms have been bred for much of that time.

Compare to silksteel from Alpha Centauri (1990) by Sid Meier and Plasto-textile from Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov. Also, see goat/spider silk from Oryx and Crake (2003) by Margaret Atwood.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 2 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Misfit
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Misfit
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Synthetic Spider Silk-related news articles:
  - 'Smart Silk' In Quantity
  - Artificial Spider Silk

Articles related to Material
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.





Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.





More News

Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...'

AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...'

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.'

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'

Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'

IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'

HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'

Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.