Scientists Translated A Spider’s Web Into Music And Experts Think It Might Allow Us To ‘Talk’ To Them

    Scientists from the US have managed to translate a spider’s web into music, which experts believe may well allow humans to ‘talk’ with them.

    The music was composed using the frequencies of a vibrating web, with different frequencies of sound assigned to separate strands. This was achieved by scanning a natural spider web with a laser, capturing 2D cross-sections before using computer algorithms to reconstruct the 3D network of the web.

    This led to the team creating musical ‘notes’ which they then combined in patterns – based on the 3D structure of the web – generating melodies that scientists say could allow for cross-species communication.

    You can listen to the eerie yet strangely mesmerising piece of spider music for yourself below:

    Researchers have created a harp-like instrument by which they have played the sinister sounding spider music in several live performances worldwide.

    The project’s principal investigator, Markus Buehler, Ph.D., has given the following explanation in a statement:

    The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings. They don’t see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies.

    These vibrations may occur when the spider stretches a silk strand during the web building process or when the web is moved by wind or a captured fly, allowing spiders to pick up on important information.

    Buehler believes this development could provide a ‘new source for musical inspiration that is very different from the usual human experience’. It’s also hoped that new insights will be gained into the 3D architecture and construction of webs.

    Isabelle Su and Markus BuehlerIsabelle Su and Markus Buehler

    The team have also created a fascinating virtual reality setup, allowing people – although presumably not arachnophobes – to visually and audibly ‘enter’ the web.

    Buehler said:

    The virtual reality environment is really intriguing because your ears are going to pick up structural features that you might see but not immediately recognize. By hearing it and seeing it at the same time, you can really start to understand the environment the spider lives in.

    Going forward, the team is interested in learning how to communicate with spiders using their own language. They have recorded web vibrations which are produced when spiders carry out different activities, for example web building, communicating with each other or sending out courtship signals.

    Although these frequencies may sound quite similar to the human ear, a machine learning algorithm was able to correctly classify the sounds into the various distinct activities that make up a spider’s life.

    webWikmedia Commons

    Buehler said:

    Now we’re trying to generate synthetic signals to basically speak the language of the spider. If we expose them to certain patterns of rhythms or vibrations, can we affect what they do, and can we begin to communicate with them? Those are really exciting ideas.

    Intriguing yet very spooky stuff.


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