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This is what a spider web sounds like

Reuters, April 20, 2021 6:45PM Kids News

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A spider web at Cobaw, Victoria, at sunrise. Picture: Zoe Phillips media_cameraA spider web at Cobaw, Victoria, at sunrise. Picture: Zoe Phillips

science

Reading level: green

Scientists have used artificial intelligence to study spider webs and create music from their vibrations.

And they are eerie* tunes that send a tingle down your spine.

From communication to construction, spider webs may offer an orchestra* of information, said Markus Buehler, engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

“Spiders utilise* vibrations as a way to communicate with the environment, with other spiders,” he said. “We have recorded these vibrations from spiders and used artificial intelligence to learn these vibrational patterns and associate them with certain actions, basically learning the spider’s language.”

Music made by spider webs (FOX59 News)

Prof Buehler and his team of researchers created 3D models of spider webs when the arachnids* were doing different things such as construction, repair, hunting and feeding. They then listened for patterns in the spider signals and recreated the sounds using computers and mathematical algorithms, which are sets of steps or instructions to solve a problem.

“Spiders are a whole different animal,” he said. “What they see or sense isn’t actually audible* or visible to the human eye or the human ear. And so by transposing* it, we begin to experience that.”

Gartenkreuzspinne (Araneus diadematus) - European garden spider (Araneus diadematus) media_cameraEuropean garden spider (Araneus diadematus). Picture: Alfred Schauhuber/McPhoto/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Prof Buehler hopes his team’s work could enable* humans to understand the language of a spider and one day communicate with them.

“The melodies are really the kind of relationships that the spider would also experience. And so we can begin to feel a little bit like a spider in that way,” Prof Buehler said.

There are more than 47,000 species of spiders, and all spin silk webs to provide housing and catch food. Scientists say the silk from a spider web is five times stronger than steel.

The living structure of a spider web could lead to innovations* in construction, maintenance and repair, Prof Buehler said.

“We can imagine creating a synthetic system that would mimic* what the spider does in sensing the web, repairing the web,” he said.

Scenes from movie Charlotte's Web. Wilbur the piglet. media_cameraWilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider in a scene from the movie Charlotte’s Web, in which Charlotte uses her web to write messages to communicate with humans.

WORLD MATHS DAY

May 5 is World Maths Day.

The scientists who made music from the spider webs listened for patterns in the spider signals and recreated the sounds using mathematical algorithms, which are sets of steps or instructions to solve a problem.

Did you know that most jobs use maths? Here are some examples that may surprise you. Can you figure out how each one uses maths?

  • Photographer
  • Pilot
  • Architect
  • Musician
  • Doctor
  • Forensic investigator
  • Video game designer
  • Fashion designer
  • Social media influencer
  • Software engineer

On World Maths Day the world’s largest online maths competition happens.

Students from preschool to year 12 from 150 countries around the world take part in 60-second maths battles, doing their best to get as many questions correct within one minute.

Since the competition began in 2007, more than 10 million competitors have answered more than one billion maths questions!

Entry to World Maths Day opens on April 21 at worldmathsdays.com

GLOSSARY

  • eerie: strange and spooky
  • orchestra: lots of different parts working together
  • utilise: use
  • arachnids: some of the eight-legged arthropods including spiders, scorpions, harvestmen, ticks, and mites
  • audible: able to be heard
  • transposing: transfer or translate
  • enable: make it able to be done
  • innovations: new ideas or way of doing things
  • mimic: copy

EXTRA READING

Aussie AI song takes global music prize

Meet Nemo, the peacock spider

Sheet weaver spider swarm spins huge web

Listen to the sounds and music of space

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is this story about?
  2. How many species of spiders are there?
  3. What is an arachnid?
  4. Share two facts about spider webs.
  5. What is celebrated on May 5?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Web of Steel
One of the coolest facts from this Kids News article is that the silk web spider’s spin is five times stronger than steel! Design a small house (think of those tiny houses) using silk webbing. What design features would you include? What would it look like?

Sketch your house design below and label the features.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Visual Arts, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
Close your eyes and listen to the spider’s music. Write down any words or images that come to mind as you listen.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Music, Personal and social

VCOP ACTIVITY
Down-Level It
When you up-level a sentence, you do things to it to improve it: make it more interesting, or more complex.

But sometimes, when we read something it can be too complex and we don’t understand it very well. You ask someone to explain it to you, they do (in a simpler way) and you think, well why didn’t they just say that?

Go through the article and find a sentence or two that is complex, or hard to read.

Ask an adult what it means, or try and look some of the words up in the glossary.

Once you know what it means, see if you can rewrite it in a simpler way- down-level it.

Make sure you don’t change the meaning of the sentence in any way though.

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