Spiders lack ears and most do not have good vision. This may seem like a major hindrance to hunting, defense, or simply survival. For this reason, these little animals use the distinctive fabric they weave to help them in their daily life. Through the vibrations of the cobwebs they can notice the presence of insects in the vicinity and communicate with other individuals in a way that is imperceptible to humans. However, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a virtual reality system that converts the waves produced in spider webs into music that can be recognized by our ears.
When an object vibrates, it produces waves that reach us through the air or some solid channel, such as the ground. Only waves from 20 to 20,000 hertz (Hz) are perceptible to humans. The vibrations produced by a spider’s filament vary depending on its size and elasticity, but it is by no means picked up by the human ear. Diego Parales, from Biology Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico“Spiders have very sensitive organs, known as trichobotria, through which they can perceive vibrations, even very weak ones,” he explains. Barrales, who manages the Twitter account Embed a Tweet, Devoted to spreading and resolving suspicions about these animals, asserts: “We can say that spiders They listen In this way. ” These hair-like sensors are mainly found on the legs, although they are also found on other parts of the body.
This differentiation between the vibrations produced by each strand and the sensitivity of the trilobite allows an explanation of what is happening in the web. In addition, spiders can determine where the vibration is occurring on the web. Accordingly, it is known that males can send messages to spider web owners, so that they know they are not food, Parales says.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified the waves emitted from each string and converted them, using an acoustic synthesizer, into a sound similar to that emitted by a harp. Using laser imaging, they built a 3D spider web map for a file Cyrtophora Citricula At the same time she was knitting. “In this way, we can explore the chronology of how the web was built through sound,” explains Markus Buehler, one of the experiment developers. Thanks to this, the user can see and hear just as one of these arthropods does with its reticulum and it comes very close to real feeling. Thus, the threads closest to the user appear to be higher than those further away.
“The web can be thought of as an extension of the spider’s body. He lives there, but he also uses it as a sensor,” Buhler tells the magazine. new world. “When you enter the world of virtual reality and plunge into a spiderweb, the ability to hear what is happening lets you understand what you see,” he says.
The next step is to decode the vibrations produced by the spiders themselves in order to understand what they are saying and to be able to communicate with them.
The project developers don’t stop there and want to turn the experience around. The vibrations produced by spiders in the web can be classified according to the activity they perform. This way, you can define the meaning of each message and establish a connection with them. “We’re trying to generate synthetic signals to speak the language of spiders. If we expose them to certain rhythms or vibrations, can we influence what they do? Can we communicate with them? It’s very interesting ideas,” says Buhler.
Marcus Mendes, professor of ecology in biodiversity and conservation at Rey Juan Carlos University, believes that it is possible to create these communication channels: “We can send vibration patterns that spiders can understand in the same way that those who work with birds can record songs to attract males or females. The vibrations that make prey, or that pair, and trigger reactions in spiders can be reproduced. This may be scientifically rational and important. But in fact, contact with other species cannot go far. ” In addition, Mendes also sees other predictions in the future: “showing the inaudible vibrations of a solid element that could have applications in human constructions, such as detecting structural defects,” the professor believes. Finally, Mendes believes this experience could improve the perception that people have of spiders: “Listen Sing Sure enough, the whales awakened the public’s sympathy for these animals. That spiders are able to perceive Song Through his fabrics he brings this group much closer. “