A group of scientists have turned a spider web into music and the result is extremely unsettling.
Spearheaded by Markus Buehler, a material scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the project came about after investigating the combined vibrations of individual strands from a spider web.
The team captured the results by laser-scanning a natural spider web to map 2D cross-sections, and then using computer algorithms to reconstruct the cobweb’s 3D network.
They used a synthesiser with a harp-like sound, assigning different sound frequencies to each stand so that it could be played in a similar way to a string instrument. Also, threads that are closer to the listener or connected to many others sounded louder than others.
Spiders are mostly blind and use their webs, the length and tension of each strand, to send out signals or communicate with other spiders.
“The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings,” Buehler told Phys.org earlier this month. “They don’t see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies.”
“We’re trying to generate synthetic signals to basically speak the language of the spider,” Buehler added. “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.”
Admittedly, the music is pretty nightmarish – its chimy textures and eerie frequencies wouldn’t go amiss in a liminal TikTok video – but check it out for yourself below.