Humans could soon talk with spiders as scientists turn web patterns into sounds

Humans could soon speak to spiders by playing them the 'music' of their webs.

Researchers said arachnids use vibrations on their webs to sense the world around them.

They have now translated the structure of a spiders' webs into music in the hopes their project could lead to interspecies communication.

And their study could also help build 3D printers that make complex microelectronics.

Researchers trying to understand the mysterious world of spiders scanned and adapted webs into music by allocating notes to each strand.

This, they say, could give them valuable new ways of looking into other fields of research.

Dr Markus Buehler, a music-loving researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who led the odd research, said: "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.

"Webs could be a new source for musical inspiration that is very different from the usual human experience."

By showing a web through hearing as well as vision the research team hoped to gain new insights into the 3D architecture and construction of webs.

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In their study, the researchers scanned a natural spider web with a laser to capture 2D cross-sections and then used computer algorithms to reconstruct the web's 3D network.

The team then assigned different frequencies of sound to strands of the web, creating "notes" which they combined in patterns based on the web's 3D structure to generate melodies.

Afterwards, they created a harp-like instrument and played the spider web music in several live performances around the world.

Dr Buehler said: "The sounds our harp-like instrument makes change during the process, reflecting the way the spider builds the web.

"So, we can explore the temporal sequence of how the web is being constructed in audible form.

The team also made a virtual reality setup that allowed people to visually and audibly "enter" the web.

Dr 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 recognise.

"By hearing it and seeing it at the same time, you can really start to understand the world they live in.

"This step-by-step knowledge of how a spider builds a web could help in devising 'spider-mimicking' 3D printers that build complex microelectronics.

"The spider's way of 'printing' the web is remarkable because no support material is used, as is often needed in current 3D printing methods.

"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."

The project was on Monday presented to a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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