ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Spider-Man, as his song theme song famously posits, can 'do whatever a spider can', and in the 2002 iteration of the character that means producing large amounts of silk web.

Now, before you jump straight to the comments section to chastise me, just hang around here for one more second. Yes, I know Spider-Man traditionally does NOT produce web organically, but gets around using his custom-made web-slingers. However, the original brain behind this article, Mark Lorch of IFLScience, conducted his research into the 2002 Raimi version of Spider-Man, who DID produce gossamer like a spider does. Except it comes out of his wrists, and not his, yknow... arse.

Lorch was interested to know how much protein would Spider-Man have to consume to produce enough web for this crime-fighting adventures. To find the much needed answer to this oft-asked question, we need to strap on our science caps and safety goggles.

How Strong is Spidey's Web?

Lorch starts by working out how strong and thick would Spider-Man's web actually be. He assumes that it has the same characteristics as the dragline silk of the European garden spider Araneus diadematus. All told, that means the web should have a tensile strength equivalent to that of piano wire.

Spider web is incredibly strong for its size, and can support a fully grown spider with no problem. The same would be true for Spider-Man's home-grown brew. Piano wire has the tensile strength of 1.1 billion Pascals - which is the measurement used to measure pressure, or force per unit area.

According to Marvel's directory, Peter Parker weighs 75kg. Using some nifty mathematics and Newton's first law, Lorch figures out that Spidey would exert a downward force of 735 Newtons when suspending from his web.

Amazingly, this means that Spidey would actually hang quite comfortably from web that is around 1mm thick. The stuff really is strong.

Next, Lorch had to figure out how much web Spider-Man is likely to use in a particular mission. He suggested that Spidey could probably shoot out 100 meters of it before he sits down for lunch.

How Much Would Spider-Man Have to Eat For Breakfast?

This 100 meters of webbing, which is made of protein, will weigh somewhere in the region of 87g. Eggs, which are a good source of protein, contain around 6g of protein each. Therefore, for breakfast Spidey would have to chow down on 15 eggs if he wants to shoot 100 meters of silk. Although this is a lot, it's not impossible.

However, things soon get a bit more complicated. You see, spider web is predominately made of a protein called fibroin. Different proteins are made of different amino acids, with fibroin being about 42% glycine. So, it isn't enough for Peter just to eat the weight of protein in eggs, he also needs to get enough glycine.

Eggs contain just 10.7% glycine and serine (which can be easily converted into glycine), so in reality Spider-Man would have to consume 60 eggs for breakfast if he wants to make 100 meters of silk. It would be very advisable for him to find a breakfast joint with one of those 'endless eggs' offers.

But that's just to make enough silk for propel him. If he does anything extra strenuous, like battling bad guys or saving damsels in distress, he's going to need a lot more.

For example, Lorch suggests that to catch Mary-Jane as she falls from a balcony in the first Spider-Man movie, he would have to compensate the large drop distance (around 240 meters) and the extra weight of Mary Jane. All told, he'd probably need the equivalent of 900 eggs to pull off that move.

Source: IFLScience


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