Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"SF is a controlled way to think and dream about the future."
- Gregory Benford

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?"

"Cobwebs."

"Cobwebs?"

"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, 1–2 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 2–3 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
Tiny Mining - Extract Precious Industrial Minerals From Your Own Body
Polyaramide Is Stronger Than Steel, Light As Plastic
Trinitite, Pentagrams And Isaac Asimov
RUSSE Self-Healing Plastic Works Underwater

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.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

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 Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

NAVER Labs Haptic Device 2.0 Robot vs. IKEA
'... the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'

Spaceships Should Last So Long
'THE SPACE VESSEL was traveling swiftly… For over five thousand years they had Voyaged on and on.’

Shine On, Portable Wind Turbine
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...'

Amazing Indoor Robotic Drones Mimic Dolphins and Whales
'They circled the vast audiences, dancing, twittering, chirping...'

Space Station Shutters
'The sun-quilt was a patchwork of colors and materials on the inward side, but silvered on the outward side...'

Tiny Mining - Extract Precious Industrial Minerals From Your Own Body
'Jim, I saw them reduce four of my doctors and nurses into those little cubes!'

MIT Proposes Space Bubbles To Combat Climate Change, Misses The Point Of Space Bubbles
'Fats Jordan was hanging in the center of the Big Glass Balloon, hugging his guitar to his massive black belly above his purple shorts..'

Tianjin Solar Vehicle From Hanergy (2022) Looking Like Heinlein's (1940)
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Study Reveals Effect Of Space Travel On The Brain
'... the brain is no longer subjected to the accustomed pull, and it expands slightly in all directions.'

Sky Cruise Nuclear Powered Flying Hotel Concept
'... the huge air-freighter Jupiter.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.