August 1, 2021

Spiderman and the cosmic cobweb | Science

Spiderman and the cosmic cobweb | Science

In a world orphaned by mythologies like the one we suffer, the Marvel superheroes have come to occupy a good part of the site destined for the gods of Olympus. A few days ago died Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman -the spider man- a superhero of known leftovers and who would reach the status of mythological god.

However, the adventures of Peter Parker, the young scientist whose life is changed by a spider bite, is not the first story where the influence of arachnids is part of the plot. In times of the Roman Empire, the Latin poet Ovid, in his work The Metamorphoses, He tells us a story of jealousy that has just turned into a struggle between gods and humans.

This is the story of Arachne, a successful weaver whose fame goes to her head, claiming to be able to overcome Minerva – goddess of craftsmanship – in her labors. Minerva will give him a chance to redeem himself, appearing before Arachne turned into an old woman who advises respect to the gods. But Arachne ignores it. That's when Minerva discovers her identity and the challenge arises; a challenge to see which of the two weaves better.

Arachne will be able to create a fabric as beautiful as insulting that shows the infidelities of the gods, so Minerva gets angry, hitting and breaking the tapestry. Arachne, humiliated, hangs herself. But Minerva sprays the rope with the juice of a toxic plant, transforming Arachne into a spider condemned to weave for all eternity. This mythological story comes to tell us that the art of weaving is an imitation of the work of spiders. His fabrics are a clear example of the instinctive beauty of the animal kingdom that the human being imitates.

If we look at the elaboration of a spider's web, we will realize that it is the very nature of the spiders that seems immersed in the work of developing a continuous back and forth of threads that will serve to trap their prey. If we have the opportunity to contemplate the work of a spider executing the cosmic dance that builds its fabric, we will see the geometrical use it makes of the triangle to build the base of the fabric; a structure rigid enough where ellipses are added to achieve a sophisticated ingenuity, as rigid as resistant when containing the impact of the dam.

This mythological story comes to tell us that the art of weaving is an imitation of the work of spiders. His fabrics are a clear example of the instinctive beauty of the animal kingdom that the human being imitates

It is curious to see how the spider is generating a universe of perfect geometries from silk fibers extracted from his abdomen and with which he weaves a fabric of symmetrical structures; a network that had medical applications in the times of antiquity. Without going any further, the Egyptians would use the threads to suture wounds. The strand that the spider extracts from its abdomen is a liquid protein that hardens as it stretches, and to which the spider adds an adherent substance to the spokes of the fabric. However, the silk surrounding the center lacks this adherent substance, which is why the spider is never trapped in its own fabric.

Arrived here, it is possible to imagine a similar tissue on a cosmic scale that surrounds the space until forming a network of filaments that connect the galaxies to each other, like a great cosmic web. Something similar was detected with the help of the Keck twin telescopes, located in the dormant volcano Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, a few years ago. The researchers managed to discover a bright gas nebula that extends like a mesh in the intergalactic space.

With such issues, we can think that everything that happens around us as a response of nature is a replica, on a smaller scale, what has been happening in the cosmos for a lot of years. Spiders and their fabrics are just an example because of the amount of reality they represent.

For this reason, it is also difficult to imagine Stan Lee devising his most real character; an inheriting character of the mythological tradition with which it is easy to identify. Anyone can be bitten by a spider.

The stone ax it is a section where Montero Glez, with a will to prose, exercises his particular siege on scientific reality to show that science and art are complementary forms of knowledge.


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