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Plot Device
04-20-2007, 03:44 AM
I need to know about the silk of worms as compared to the silk of spiders.

Any experts here?

sharra
04-20-2007, 02:49 PM
spider silk is one of the strongest natural substances on the planet; scientist have been playing with it for years because of it's strength and versatility. Spiders produce 2 types of silk; sticky (for catching and trapping) and non-sticky - this is used for web spiders to walk on so they don't get stuck themselves. Other spiders will use it for things such as lining burrows. Keep in mind the sticky silk is not just used for webs; spiders use threads as lasso's, fishing lines, the spider version of a bolo - pretty effective! - and a lot more. Baby spiders will spin a fine line of silk into the air to catch the wind; if they catch a strong breeze & you're lucky enough to see it they can end up looking like a fairly large cloud moving across the sky. Some of the most spectacular webs are made from golden orb spiders. They are communal and gold in colour - something to see in the early morning when the dew catches them.
Silk worms produce silk as a cocoon in order to transform into a moth. The colour of the silk is influenced by the type of leaves the worms feed on - it can be a fascinating project. Because the emerging moth breaks the silk thread and renders it useless for spinning, commercial breeder kill the cocooned larva, usually by plunging them into boiling water.
The silk of the cocoon in it's raw state is neither as fine nor as strong as spider silk, and obviously not sticky. It is produced by spinnerets at the back of the worm; a spiders are near her mouth.
Spiders will also eat used silk so as to avoid waste; one of natures re-cyclers.

Plot Device
04-20-2007, 05:03 PM
This is great information, Sharra. I have some SPECIFIC questions, though. I spent weeks o the internet and found no answers to my specific questions. Are you into this field? What can you tell me?




One specific question:

I read once that worm silk is NOT round, but more triangular in shape. Is that true?

Prawn
04-20-2007, 06:42 PM
Dunno bout the shape, but here's a tidbit: The wealth of Constantinople and the Byzantine empire was founded in part on silk worms smuggled out of the far east and raised to make silk.

Plot Device
04-20-2007, 08:50 PM
Dunno bout the shape, but here's a tidbit: The wealth of Constantinople and the Byzantine empire was founded in part on silk worms smuggled out of the far east and raised to make silk.

That's fascinating HISTORY, but I need the SCIENCE.

It's basically a fansty/sci-fi plot and I have a conversation between a scientist and a scholar about a wool jacket with a silk lining. The scientist determines that the jacket could not possibly have come from this planet because of certain strange characteristsics about the wool, and certain other very strange characteristics about the silk.

I did find mention in one scientific abstract on the inetrnet of "the traingular properties of silk." And I also found some super-magnified microscopic photos of strands of spider silk. Now, it was obvious from the photos that the spider silk was round. But that one phrase "the triangular properties of silk" might not be LITERALLY referring to it's SHAPE but maybe a semi-poetic reference to a three-part or three-tiered set of characteristics. So I might be foolish to assume that it's LITERALY triangular.

But I tentatively have written this bit of dialogue where the scientist explains to the scholar that while spiders spin silk threads that are round, and worms spin silk threads that are triangular, the silk threads from this mysterious jacket are neither round nor triangular, but more closely resemble a steel I-beam.

But I need harder evidence than that one scientific abstract I found which mentions "triangular prperties of silk."

Does anyone know of any magnified microscopic photos of worm silk??

pdr
04-21-2007, 04:00 PM
both wool and silk fibres can be altered in shape by chemical treatments. Even certain chemical dyes can do it. And certain finishes, like waterproofing or anti-soiling can do this too.

Perhaps you could think about dyes used on the jacket, dyes from substances not found on your planet?

Plot Device
04-21-2007, 10:51 PM
both wool and silk fibres can be altered in shape by chemical treatments. Even certain chemical dyes can do it. And certain finishes, like waterproofing or anti-soiling can do this too.

Perhaps you could thing about dyes used on the jacket, dyes from substances not found on your planet?


Good stuff, pdr. Where can I learn more about this?

pdr
04-22-2007, 04:39 AM
I grew up knowing this. My maternal relatives have been wool merchants since the Middle Ages. I spin and dye my own fibres too.

References? I always try the library. There will be heaps of books about textile dyeing, and finishes, on silk and wool.

If you use the internet see if ICI or any other big chemical companies have research papers into the changing the structure of silk moth silk fibres or wool fibre. Something like that. More computer savvy people can help you with the wording.

Plot Device
04-22-2007, 03:18 PM
Thanks! :cool:

sharra
04-23-2007, 08:36 PM
Wow - now you're getting technical; lol;).
I'm not involved on the scientific side; but there is a site that might help. Although brief, the section on spider silk is followed directly by one on silk worm silk.
http://www.doitpoms.ac.uk/tlplib/bioelasticity/viscoelasticity-hysteresis.php
You might try the folds at New Scientist as well - you can send queries in via e-mail & have readers planet wide respond; although some will be very tongue-in-cheek.

pdr
04-24-2007, 07:58 AM
If the dyes used on your jacket are vegetable dyes then traces of their alien origin will be traceable in the resulting dye and will be found in the threads dyed.

Keep It Short and Simple. (KISS) Don't get too complicated! All this research will only be a couple of throw away lines in the final edit.

Plot Device
04-24-2007, 08:41 AM
If the dyes used on your jacket are vegetable dyes then traces of their alien origin will be traceable in the resulting dye and will be found in the threads dyed.

Keep It Short and Simple. (KISS) Don't get too complicated! All this research will only be a couple of throw away lines in the final edit.

Here's my scene:

[BACKGROUND: Doctor Vincente is a good friend of Reverend Brown's. Meanwhile, a stranger named Doctor Angus has traveleld over a thousand miles to find Reverand Brown because Doctor Angus was told that only Reverend Brown knows where the jacket came from. The tone of this scene is supposed to be mildly humorous. Doctor Angus is urgent and near-frantic while Doctor Vincente is somewhat disaffected and is only barely tolerating Doctor Angus' presence.]

INT. CHURCH OFFICE - LATER

Doctor Vincente stands at the PRINTER pulling SHEETS off the feeder. He listens to Doctor Angus while reading the sheets. Only sometimes does he ever look Doctor A right in the eye.

DOCTOR ANGUS
The wool portion defies identification. The DNA from the fibers doesn't match any known creature in the entire zoological spectrum, not even extinct wool-bearing creatures like mammoths.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
(mildly intrigued)
Now that's interesting.

DOCTOR ANGUS
As for the SILK, those fibers present even MORE scientific quandaries.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Such as?

DOCTOR ANGUS
There are essentially only 3 types of creatures capable of spinning silk.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Spiders, worms, and caterpillars.

DOCTOR ANGUS
Yes. Very good. Do you perhaps have formal training in entomology

DOCTOR VINCENTE
No.

DOCTOR ANGUS
Uh. Okay. Anyway. When one examines under a microscope the characteristics of spider silk, as compared to worm and caterpillar silk, the most noteworthy difference is found in the shape of the threads: worms and caterpillars spin threads that are triangular and spiders

DOCTOR VINCENTE
-- and spiders spin threads which are more cylindrical.

DOCTOR ANGUS
Yes. That's correct. How do you know these things?

DOCTOR VINCENTE
I know many things but please continue.

DOCTOR ANGUS
Well, this jacket's silk lining is REAL silk, an entirely organic substance produced by a living creature such as a spider or a caterpillar. However, the shaft of each silk strand is neither cylindrical, nor triangular. They more closely resemble a steel I-beam

DOCTOR VINCENTE
(impressed, glancing to one side)
How curious.
(returns gaze to his work)

DOCTOR ANGUS
Now, here's the interesting part: the jacket's silk panels actually have a dynamic, interactive relationship with the wool panels.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
How so?

DOCTOR ANGUS
Are you at all familiar with the electro magnetic properties of wool?

DOCTOR VINCENTE
(ignores the insult)
Most people are. That's where we get carpet shocks from.

DOCTOR ANGUS
And are you also aware of the magnetic insulating properties of silk?

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Yes I am. In fact, if I recall correctly, both Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Henry made ample usage of silk's insulating properties when experimenting with electricity and magnetism.

DOCTOR ANGUS
The jacket's wool shell tends to store static electricity in unusually high amperages, while the silk lining tends to refocus that built-up electrical charge with rather startling precision.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
(lifts one eyebrow)
Refocus it where?

DOCTOR ANGUS
When we ran low electrical currents through the jacket, we observed an un-explainable build up and orderly gath-ering of super-charged ions in the air around the jacket into a sort of cushion.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Were these ion cushions positively charged or negatively charged?

DOCTOR ANGUS
Now that's a good question. How do you even know to ask these questions? I though you were just a preacher.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
"Just a preacher?" While I'm sure you did not intend to insult the millions of men and women in the world currently employed in that noble occupation, I am a doctor of theology.

DOCTOR ANGUS
That means you study God, right?

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Yes. And since God made everything, I have taken it upon myself to study ............ everything.

DOCTOR ANGUS
Everything.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Everything. The work of his hands.

DOCTOR ANGUS
So you study entomology & electromagnetism.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Yes. All of that. And everything else as well: biology, astronomy, geology, physics, psychology, mathematics, chemistry, etc, etc, ad infinitum. It's all his domain, so I study as much of it as I can with what little time he has given me. And it is my unending hope that when I die and go to join him, that's when the REAL learning shall begin, learning scheduled to last for all eternity. For now, I merely intend to spend the remainder of my Earthly days getting a meager "jump start" on my first semester with him. (But, where were we?) Ah yes: tell me about this ion cushion around the jacket. Was it positively charged, or negatively?

DOCTOR ANGUS
Sometimes positive sometimes negative. It fluctuated randomly and we weren't able to either control or predict it. But we believe that if we COULD control it, then PERHAPS --

DOCTOR VINCENTE
--then perhaps you might be able to use the jacket as a gravity shield.

DOCTOR ANGUS
YES! EXACTLY! An ion-based gravity-reduction shield!

DOCTOR VINCENTE
So that jacket is more than merely a garment, it's actually a very advanced piece of technology.

DOCTOR ANGUS
Yes! But there's more! To summarize: in my 15 years as a government researcher, I've had MANY technologically advanced artifacts handed to me. Some of them damaged or somehow incomplete, and the origins of them hidden from me by my superiors. But ALL prior artifacts have always been SYNTHETIC items, machine-made, with little or no organic component. This jacket is the VERY first artifact I've come across which is ENTIRELY organic, and also appears to be handmade instead of machine made.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
"Handmade" as in the fabric was hand woven? Or the garment was hand sewn?

DOCTOR ANGUS
Both! And yet it's also by far the most technologically advanced artifact to date. And not only that, it's the first one that seems to have been crafted with any degree of artistry or thoughtfulness. There are aesthetic elements to this garment that are indicative of actual humanity and compassion, as opposed to the blunt utilitarian efficiency of the other artifacts I've studied which are all grossly lacking in any sort of aesthetics. And so, I'm under the impression this jacket represents an entire culture of some kind. A culture of enlightenment. Where there are wool-bearing creatures and silk-spinning creatures and possibly even art and music and a truly grand civilization.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
And where do you imagine this "grand civilization" might hail from?

DOCTOR ANGUS
Some place not of this Earth, Doctor.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
What you seem to be describing is an entire society peopled by a bunch of "warm and fuzzy, tree-hugging, guitar-strumming, vegetarian hippies from the great beyond."

DOCTOR ANGUS
Possibly.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
And you wish to make contact with these "metaphysical flower children."

DOCTOR ANGUS
Something like that. Yes.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
And what if they would prefer to ignore your efforts to contact them?

DOCTOR ANGUS
We have to at least try.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
......... Why?

DOCTOR ANGUS
Because ... of the threat posed by the OTHER culture which produces the OTHER artifacts I mentioned.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
The machine-made artifacts.

DOCTOR ANGUS
Yes.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
What is the nature of this threat?

DOCTOR ANGUS
We're still not certain. But all indications show that they're not nice. Instead they are cruel, sadistic, have no morals, and show no mercy. People who have been unfortunate enough to experience encounters with them report these beings enjoy inflicting pain for no other reason that the sheer delight they take in doing so.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
What an unpleasant bunch of "blue meanies" they must be. From a psychological standpoint, that sort of behavior sounds rather… sociopathic. And from a theological standpoint, it sounds downright … diabolical.

DOCTOR ANGUS
The frequency of encounters with these hostile beings is increasing. The number of artifacts we collect from their encounter sites is also increasing. Several of my colleagues believe it's all a prelude to something much larger and more serious that will happen at the hands of these unfriendly entities. Something is coming in our near future. Something very bad. Something that will effect us on a planetary scale. And as it stands now, we’re utterly helpless against these creatures.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
So we need to be protected from them... the blue meanies, not the warm fuzzies.

DOCTOR ANGUS
........ Correct.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
You seek to forge an alliance with them ...the warm fuzzies, not the blue meanies.

DOCTOR ANGUS
... Hopefully. And if Reverend Brown has had prior contact with these "warm and fuzzy" beings, then perhaps he can help us make contact as well.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
(gathering his papers)
Well. I can tell I will not be able to dissuade you in that quest, as foolish and ill-advised as I believe it to be. Meanwhile, I have a sermon to preach and you are more than welcome to come and listen. In fact, you might find answers to your many questions contained in its text.

DOCTOR ANGUS
What are you preaching on?

DOCTOR VINCENTE
I am preaching on the subject of angels, of course.

As Doctor V turns to walk away, Doctor A gasps in dismay:

DOCTOR ANGUS
Doctor Vincente! With all due respect to your undeniable intelligence as well as your admirable faith in God, I can't believe this past half hour with your has been such a total waste! I wasn't talking about angels! I was talking about extra-terrestrials!

Doctor Vincente pauses, turns back to Doctor Angus and frowns dubiously at him, retorting:

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Whattt ...... is the difference?

Then he turns and exits, leaving a dumbfounded Doctor Angus.

CUT TO:

Prawn
04-24-2007, 03:58 PM
I hope this is a screen play.

I don't know if you found any experts, but these guys sound like experts, which I guess is what you were going for.

pdr
04-24-2007, 04:21 PM
I think you need to correct the worm bit. Silk worms are not worms, but caterpillars. They turn into silk moths. As far as I know there are only spiders and caterpillars that produce silk threads.

Right, you have got yourself a tech tangle! I can't help you there apart from saying that dyes and chemicals alter the structure of the fibres.

I think perhaps you had better go with what you have and ignore my info!

Plot Device
04-24-2007, 06:38 PM
I think you need to correct the worm bit. Silk worms are not worms, but caterpillars. They turn into silk moths. As far as I know there are only spiders and caterpillars that produce silk threads.

I wondered if this was the case. But I kept finding referecne to "worm silk" in all the data I was reading, so I figured they were making distinctions between worms and caterpillars. That info actually simplifies things.


Right, you have got yourself a tech tangle! I can't help you there apart from saying that dyes and chemicals alter the structure of the fibres.

I think perhaps you had better go with what you have and ignore my info!

Actually, this exercise of mine of posting just the one scene here has helped me already. I hadn't realized before how stinking LONG this one scene was (10 whole pages!!) so I need to shorten it anyhow.

And you have been helpful also. Thanks!

And Sharra's link is also very cool.

sharra
04-24-2007, 09:14 PM
glad I could help - and enjoyed the scene..

Nolita
04-27-2007, 04:24 PM
Whoever said silk from silkworms isn't sticky, never degummed cocoons before. Serecin(the protien in silk from silkworms) is sticky stuff. You have to make a pretty strong solution of washing soda, and detergent to cut through it.

For interesting, hands on info, go to [url]http://wormspit.com[/i]. Here's a particularly interesting page from the site [url]http://wormspit.com/silkgut.htm[/i]. I think it might be helpful if you get to a point where you need to describe why the silk is the shape it is.

Oh, and don't poo-poo the strength of silkworms' silk. I spun from hankies(degummed and homemade per the instructions at wormspit), and it's strong stuff. Not to be babied, it fights back.

Oh, forgot, the estimate for how many cocoons it takes to produce a yard of silk fabric. I think that's due to the fact that the cocoons used for reeling have to be perfect. You can use lesser quality cocoons for making yarn, but for thread they have to be perfect. I think there must be some sorting going on there, plus there's no mention of the width of the fabric.

Plot Device
04-28-2007, 03:06 AM
Sharra: thanks! ( missed your post before!)

Nolita: This is interesting info. Thank you! :)

Nolita
05-03-2007, 05:04 AM
Oh forgot to tell you. The owner of http://wormspit.com He's really nice about answering questions. I had questions about stretching hankies, and again when I spun my yarn, and he was super-nice. Got back to me fast. If there's any question regarding the moth or caterpillar, go ahead and ask him. Worst case scenario, he doesn't have the answer. But it's kind of a passion for him, so he probably will have the answers.

Plot Device
05-03-2007, 07:31 PM
Oh forgot to tell you. The owner of http://wormspit.com He's really nice about answering questions. I had questions about stretching hankies, and again when I spun my yarn, and he was super-nice. Got back to me fast. If there's any question regarding the moth or caterpillar, go ahead and ask him. Worst case scenario, he doesn't have the answer. But it's kind of a passion for him, so he probably will have the answers.


Having a flesh-n-blood (cyber) person to ASK these questions of is LOTS better than mucking through scientific abstracts! Thanks! :cool: