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  • Spider-Man has some pretty sweet abilities, but let us take a scientific look to see how well this superhero stacks up to reality.

  • For Spider-Man to become genetically modified, the spider that bit him would have to release a retrovirus into his body.

  • Retroviruses carry genetic information which gets inserted into the DNA of cells.

  • The cell then reads the new DNA to create specific functions and proteins for that cell.

  • But this retrovirus would have to make its way to nearly every cell and have the ability to code for new and different functions in each cell.

  • So while it's theoretically possible, it would also be pretty "amazing".

  • Silk: it's actually proportionately stronger and more flexible than steel.

  • Spider webs, one tenth the size of a piece of hair, are able to catch insects flying upwards of 15 miles an hour.

  • And, believe it or not, if a web were an inch thick in diameter, it could actually stop a fighter jet.

  • Strength: some spiders can lift up to 50 times their body weight. This muscle strength is directly related to size.

  • Think about your bicep. When you work out, it increases in height and width but not length.

  • In this way, the strength of an organism increases as a square, or by 2 on the scale factor.

  • But as organisms get bigger, their volume increases in height, width and length, as a cube, or by 3 on the scale factor.

  • This creates a ratio of 2:3, meaning the bigger the organism, the smaller its proportional strength.

  • But because Spider-Man is human shaped and sized, the retrovirus would have to encode for the creation of more actin and myosin proteins.

  • These proteins affect the contraction abilities of muscles, and in effect could make a human stronger.

  • Climbing walls? Not a problem for spiders, they have tiny hairs on each leg.

  • And these hairs have tons of even smaller hairs with triangular ends, which interact within nanometers of the atoms on the surface.

  • This creates electrostatic forces, allowing them to stick with a strength of 170 times their own weight.

  • To capture this ability, Spider-Man would need permanently hairy hands and feet, which may not overly impress his damsels in distress.

  • And finally, what about the Spidey Sense?

  • Well, spider hairs are extremely sensitive to vibration and air pressure changes.

  • But this means that Spider-Man could only perceive things that are near him, and not events at a distance.

  • Got a burning question you want answered?

  • Ask it in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe for more weekly science videos.

Spider-Man has some pretty sweet abilities, but let us take a scientific look to see how well this superhero stacks up to reality.

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The Science of Superheroes - SPIDER-MAN

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    Calvin Chen posted on 2022/01/13
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