Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ever since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun

Humanity's second-oldest dream is to enmesh the moon within an immense web spun by giant vacuum-dwelling spiders...

The third-oldest dream is to provide the military with better Kevlar for bullet-proof underpants.
While Thompson said he couldn't yet speculate on when the military might start using bullet-resistant garments, he said a natural first step would be to provide undergarments for the military made from material that is stronger and tougher than silk.
This is all to do with the plan from Randy Lewis and his colleagues at the University of Wyoming, to gene-splice silkworms so that they spin spider silk.* With bonus points for giving the adult silkworms GLOWING RED EYES because SCIENCE, and to make them easier to trace if they escape.
Spider selects fortunate
recipient of genetic material
Before that, the scheme was all about splicing the same genes into goats, endowing nannygoats with spidersilk proteins in their milk -- thereby enhancing the stringyness of Feta cheese when used as pizza topping. Also allowing Nexia Biotechnologies to filter out the proteins and weave them into super-Kevlar BioSteel:
The proteins derived from the goat's milk can be spun into strong, lightweight, and extremely elastic silk to be used in the construction of light, bulletproof vests for the military.
Alas, the secret of extruding the proteins to align them and condense them into threads was lost when Nexia went tits-up. The firm's physical assets (i.e. transgenic goats) were acquired by Utah State University, where Randy Lewis manages the herd, giving them names like Freckles, Pudding, and Sweetie and feeding them on discarded silkworms until they acquire GLOWING RED EYES.
If any of the herd have used their silk-strand- shooting nipples to climb the walls of the biocontainment facility and escape, would the public be informed?

A whole nother plan is to harness the slime-secretion powers of hagfish and 'milk' them for their slime proteins, processing these into fabric for bulletproof military underpants.
It makes them a good candidate for high- performance fiber threads that could build materials that rival Kevlar for ballistics protection.
I do not rate for this approach for the next step is always putting the hagfish in the Evolvamat to "scale up their size for commercial production", and this NEVER ENDS WELL.

Returning to arachnids, nor should we forget the cunning Italian scheme to place spiders in an immersive environment of graphene and carbon nanotubes -- thereby strengthening their silk even further when they absorb the nanotech and secrete it again through their spinnerettes, intercalated among the molecules.
Spidras sprayed with scallop shells
(or small shuttlecocks) for SCIENCE

I am glad to report that the Italians take their Mad Scientist obligations seriously and they also propose to do the same thing to silkworms:
At this early stage it’s not clear how such a material will be used, but one possibility is a giant net capable of catching falling aircraft, suggests Pugno. The team also plans to investigate other ways of producing bionic materials, such as dosing silkworms with artificial substances.
I hope that no-one is planning to combine nanotech enhancement to gene-spliced spidra-silkworms. And when I say "no-one" that means Another Kiwi. We all know what happened last time we tried that.

Instead at the Riddled Research Laboratory we are examining the idea of splicing the silk gene into the human genome so that the proteins are expressed in the seminal vesicles as an additive to seminal fluid... then rely upon the prodigious output of teenage boys.

I did not say that it was a good idea, or indeed a tasteful one, but if for unforeseen reasons it fails in practice, we will at least have the script for a very disturbing Cronenberg-directed bukkake movie.

* For extra cleverness and optimum properties, the team are using their own artificial composite silk gene.


rhwombat said...

Men who stare at red-eyed silkworms?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Perhaps we should just train an army of coconut crabs and dispense with the necessity for bulletproof underpants manufacturing?

* Nah, where's the profit in that, I suppose.