Spiders can make music too, and we can listen to it

Researchers at MIT have managed to turn the 3D structures of spider webs into notes. The result is a natural melody that tries to tell us something.

The animal kingdom is an ongoing discovery. A succession of colors, precarious balances and immortal creatures whose existence we could not even imagine without the help of scientists. Not only, if we listen well and with the right instruments, the world around us can also give us sounds very similar to what we could call music.

Spiders, well-known engineers and natural builders, now able to "reinvent themselves" as talented musicians, know it well. If it is true that from space - and in particular from Venus - we have been able to capture a disturbing and at the same time fascinating stellar melody, in the same way, staying on Earth, a group of researchers has been able to translate into sound waves the sophisticated structures of spider webs. A study that may seem curious, but in practical terms can be translated into useful applications in different areas of technology and science: think of 3D printing or the possible communication between different species.

The "subtle" notes of spiders

A team of researchers from MIT - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most important research universities in the world - led by Markus Buheler, has therefore created an audiovisual system that allows us to immerse ourselves in a sensory journey into the "musical" world of spiders. For sounds that are certainly unusual, but that might even be more pleasant than your own voice.

As explained by the person responsible for the project, these weaver creatures are not equipped with good eyesight. It's no coincidence that they get most of their information about the outside world from the vibrations of their webs.

Buheler, who is also a great lover of music and musical composition, decided to transform the geometric lines of the webs into notes and sounds that can be perceived by humans. This was possible using a 2D scanner, with which the spider webs were scanned, then reconstructed in three dimensions with the help of the computer. The result - which you can also listen to on YouTube - is a sort of melody that seems to be played by an instrument very similar to a harp.

That's not all, because the researchers have also created a virtual reality app that allows you to walk inside the web to explore it. Just as the scholars have done, who have scanned in real time the realization of the web to understand how spiders make it.

As we said, the reconstruction of the melody of arachnids may open up a variety of possibilities from a practical point of view. A concrete example is the realization of 3D printers that mimic the steps of weaving spiders, and to be used to create tiny electronic circuits from nothing. The same "music" will help MIT scientists understand how spiders communicate with each other at every stage of their lives, and whether it is possible to influence their behavior in any way.

Andrea Guerriero