The Physics of Spiderman and Spider Silk Explained - Reel or Unreal Episode 2
Introduction – Montage of video clips of the Great Orbax. Orbax is middle aged, bald with a ponytail at the back. A long curling moustache and a goatee. He is wearing a 3-piece grey plaid suit, with a lab coat, sometimes old motorcycle goggles. He is situated in a Physics lab at the University of Guelph and speaks directly into the camera.
Video opens on a Reel or UnReal animated slide and logo. We see Orbax blurry inside his lab. He comes into focus.
Orbax on screen. Visuals appear to the left and right of him, animated Spiderman and Spiderweb:
Hello! I'm Orbax from the Department of Physics here at the University of Guelph.
Today we're going to discuss the physics of Spider-Man and spider silk.
Text on screen: Seriously how strong is spider silk?
Orbax on screen with graphics that explain toughness appearing beside him:
Spider silk, the way that it's actually created by spiders, has this incredible ability of something called toughness. Toughness is the ability of the material to actually absorb energy before it breaks.
Whether it's stretched, whether it's compressed, whether it's torn a little bit; that by weight is actually incredibly strong material.
Orbax on screen an animated Spiderman appears on the left side of the frame:
So when you have something like a car that's been flipped in the air and it's rolling around and Spider-Man it wants to swing that out of the way, shooting the web towards it, grabbing it and changing the direction of that momentum, being able to handle that large amount of energy without breaking, is actually something that spider silk does.
Text on screen: Now Give us the Physics Orbax.
Orbax on screen, and an animated Spiderman.
Now spider silk has the tensile strength that's on the order of about gigapascal or 1 billion newtons per meter square of that material.
According to Marvel, Spider-man is 5'10 and 167 lbs.
Visual changes to white chart paper and shows Orbax’s hand, writing out mathematical equations.
So how thick of a piece of spider silk would it actually take to hold Spider-Man up?
Well doing the calculations, you'd this in any of your first year physics courses likely. You got the mg acting down, you got the tension acting up. "In reality", in terms of looking at a Spider-man movie.
Text on screen: so….is it REAL?
Orbax on screen, holding up thread.
This thread would be enough to hold up a fully weighted Spider-Man or Spider-Woman, if it was made out of actual spider silk.