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This silk scarf and vest have a nice drape and pretty color, but that’s not why everyone here at Popular Science covets them. No, we’re wishing they were ours because they’re made of super-strong, transgenic spider silk. Functional and good-looking! Our favorite.
The clothes were woven from silk produced by silkworms with a spider gene engineered into them. A mix of spider and silkworm proteins actually emerges from the spinners in the silkworms’ mouths. The resulting hybrid material is made up of less than 1 percent spider proteins, yet it’s 53 percent tougher than regular silk, according to the research team, five scientists from Japan’s National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences and Shinshu University.
Scientists have long known spider-silk proteins are exceptionally strong. Dragline silk, the stuff spiders use to make the spokes of their webs and to dangle creepily from ceilings, is five times stronger than an equal-sized thread of steel would be.