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Silk

Materials

Ever-taut spider webs inspire self-spooling liquid wire

Among spider silk's many remarkable properties is its ability to be stretched 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. Staying in one piece is impressive, sure, but how does a spider's web remain taut after being warped out of shape by winds and intrusive insects? Scientists have now unraveled this little mystery and used it as the basis of a self-spooling liquid wire they say could be used to build small, stretchable structures.Read More

Medical

Blood samples stored in silk endure warmer temperatures

If they're not going to be analyzed right away, blood samples are best kept chilled as warmer temperatures can distort the biomarkers physicians rely on for diagnosis. But researchers have now discovered that they can preserve blood at higher temperatures by storing it amongst silk proteins, a development that could mean big things for health care in places where cooling facilities are scarce.Read More

Science

Silk coating makes for fresher fruit

How often do you end up throwing out fruit that spoiled before you could eat it? Well, it may soon be happening a lot less, thanks to a silk-based coating being developed at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Strawberries treated with the substance remained fresh and juicy for up to a week without refrigeration – unlike their untreated counterparts.Read More

Outdoors

The North Face's Moon Parka is made from synthetic spider silk

Spider silk has some amazing properties. Among other things, it's as strong as steel, tougher than Kevlar, and lighter than carbon fiber. Unfortunately, however, farming spiders for their silk would be a very impractical venture. That's why some groups have looked into creating synthetic spider silk. Japanese company Spiber is one of those, and it recently joined forces with The North Face to create a parka made from its QMONOS fiber. Called the Moon Parka, the garment is reportedly "the world’s first piece of clothing made from artificial protein material."Read More

Motorcycles

Full preview of the Bonhams Spring Stafford Sale

Bonhams Stafford Spring sale has been responsible for more sales of elite motorcycles than any other single sale anywhere in the world, rivaling even the combined January Las Vegas sales – it's that important. Not surprisingly, there are a number of very rare and valuable motorcycles going under the hammer on April 26, the most significant being a 1939 Vincent-HRD Series-A Rapide (US$320,000-380,000), an unraced 1979 Ducati 900 NCR Racer ($120,000-180,000), a 1926 Coventry Eagle Flying Eight ($120,000-180,000) and a 1930 Brough Superior 680 Black Alpine ($100,000-150,000).Read More

Electronics

Silk-derived material could boost battery performance

Next-generation lithium-ion batteries may hold more charge for a greater number of cycles thanks to a new material derived from natural silk. Scientists at the Beijing Institute of Technology found that not only does their regenerated silk fibroin material work for over 10,000 cycles but it also stores five times more lithium than graphite, which is the most common choice for the anode (negative electrode) in lithium-ion batteries.Read More

Medical

Electronic implants treat staph infections, and then dissolve

Imagine if there were a remote-control electronic device that could be implanted at an infection site, where it would treat the infection by heating or medicating the affected tissue. While it might be very effective, subsequent infections could result if surgeons went in to remove it, or even if they just left it in place. That's why scientists from Tufts University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have developed infection-treating implants that simply dissolve into the body once they've served their purpose. Read More

Medical

Broken bones could be healed with silk

Silk is an amazingly strong material, yet it also harmlessly biodegrades when left in the body. This has led to its use in experimental brain implants, heart patches, and even bio-electronics. According to a new study conducted by scientists at Tufts University School of Engineering and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, it may now also find use in the production of better plates and screws used for securing broken bones. Read More

Worms produce pre-colored silk after eating dyed leaves

Like most other fabrics, silk is colored with dye. Unfortunately, the dyeing process results in wastewater laden with toxins. Now, however, scientists from the National Chemical Laboratory in India are developing an alternative. They're feeding dye to silkworms, which in turn are producing pre-colored silk fibers. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Silk brain implants could stop epilepsy from progressing

The group of neurological disorders known as epilepsy not only cause disruptive, alarming seizures, but those seizures also tend to increase in frequency and severity over time. While the majority of patients can gain some control of their condition via medication or surgery, approximately 30 percent cannot. Now, however, help may be on the way ... in the form of tiny pieces of silk implanted in the brain. Read More

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