back to article Spidey sense is literally tingling! Arachnids detect Earth's electric field, use it to fly away

Spiders can detect the Earth’s electric field, and use it to lift off and fly through the air, according to new research. The creepy creatures raise their legs and point their bulbous bodies to the sky before shooting lines of silk, using the material to float away in a gentle breeze. The process known as ballooning can carry …

Keef

To follow shortly...

A new SyFy movie.

Now if only there was some way to attach lasers to flying spiders?

That could be the sequel.

Good research though. Like so many things you read there is the 'why hadn't anyone thought of that before' thing.

Because it's not obvious I know, but I still sometimes react with 'I could have thought of that'. I just never have and probably never will.

But I've had 2 ideas for terrible SyFy channel movies, does that count?

Sadly I already know the answer.

Pascal Monett
Silver badge

We might not have a SyFy movie yet, but we have a SciShow clip where Hank explains how it works.

Given the similarities in the information from the clip and this article, seems to me that they likely were based on the same reference material. I don't know who's at El Reg's Science Desk, but that is a job well done.

VinceH
Silver badge
Happy

"Given the similarities in the information from the clip and this article, seems to me that they likely were based on the same reference material. "

Well, the article says "...researchers at the University of Bristol, in England..."

And the guy in the video says "... a study published in Current Biology this week by researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK..."

So, yeah. :)

Blockchain commentard

Re: To follow shortly...

Taranado - if sharks can do it, why not giant man-eating tarantulas?

John Brown (no body)
Silver badge

"We might not have a SyFy movie yet, but we have a SciShow clip where Hank explains how it works."

Holy crap! Is that guy a robot or do they just edit out the bits where he pauses for breath?

Pascal Monett
Silver badge

You should try Zero Punctuation - it'll blow your socks off.

GIRZiM

Re: To follow shortly...

There'll be the mice-spiders movie first.

Fungus Bob
Silver badge

Re: Taranado

Substitute Tara Reid for the tarantulas and you might just have a winner.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

I wonder what the heaviest object would be that could be lifted by the antistatic effect in a thunderstorm? Benjamin Franklin's famous kite was constructed with a silk handkerchief.

macjules
Silver badge

Wonder what would happen if you used graphene as the material - how much could you lift?

xyz

do a Google for....

lifter. there used to be a Web site called American antigravity back at the turn of the century that created lifters. Similar principle. There will be some videos on YouTube. Short answer is not a lot.

the Jim bloke
Bronze badge
Coat

If these things ride lightning storms and cross oceans - I have seen other articles mentioning them found on ship sails mid-ocean -

.. why are they only "native to North America.."

the other article I read, cant remember where, did point out the "survival rates were low.."

Spiders on the storm,

into this house we're born,

into this world we're thrown..

Like a dog without a bone

onefang

'.. why are they only "native to North America.."'

Likely coz the environmental conditions in North America are better for them, including an abundance of what ever it is that they eat. They might be able to cross oceans, their favourite prey not so much.

Like migrating birds that cross oceans, then fly back. There's reasons they do that.

Upvoted for The Doors lyrics.

Danny 2
Silver badge

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/horse-latitudes.html

Androgynous Cow Herd

Downvote

Because now I have that song in my head, and The Doors suck.

dbayly

<quote>Like migrating birds that cross oceans, then fly back. There's reasons they do that.</quote>

You think they fly back because there's no feed at the other side?

onefang

I said there are reasons, I didn't say anything about what those reasons are.

Martin Budden

Possibly because there's no feed at the other side *at certain times of year* ?

phuzz
Silver badge

One can't possibly seen in Europe in the wrong season darling, or one would positively die of embarrassment.

steelpillow
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Dowsing?

There is a theory that at least one form of dowsing works on the principle of detecting changes in the Earth's local electrostatic field as one walks around.

Anybody know of a respectable scientist with sufficient cred as an electromagnetics engineer to conduct a meaningful experiment, who also doesn't care if it trashes his career by mentioning the D word?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Dowsing?

They could have just been electrocuting the spiders. Thus the "theory" could be bunk.

Mephistro
Silver badge

Re: Dowsing? (@ steelpillow)

Yes, I remember reading about that in the Spanish version of the French science magazine La Recherche, three decades or so ago.

One of the experiments consisted in placing a human with a pendulum inside a weak DC circuit. Whenever the polarity was inverted, the pendulum inverted the direction of it's movement, i.e. from clockwise to counter-clockwise or vice versa. The phenomenon was attributed to ferromagnetic nodules in vertebrates' articulations, and the experiments suggested that they had enough sensibility to detect very small variations in intensity.

GBE

Re: Dowsing?

There is a theory that at least one form of dowsing works on the principle of detecting changes in the Earth's local electrostatic field as one walks around.

Except all of the real, scientific, trails of dowsing show that it _doesn't_ work.

So, trying to come up with theories about how it works seems a bit silly.

Scott Broukell

Sorry, nothing to see here, it's obvious, these spiders are simply trying to light their own farts!

JimmyPage
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Human analogue ?

MrsJP has always been able to tell if there's a storm coming. far more accurately than the forecasts (which are right about 1 in 3 times).

Now, she has MS, so her central nervous system is fucked. I've always wondered if that's made it sensitive (or more sensitive, which is an interesting line of research) to electrical disturbances.

Sometimes I wonder why people - especially scientists - seem surprised by findings like this. Life on earth has been around the best part of 4 billion years. It would be incredible if it hadn't found ways to work out what was going on in the environment. Whether electrically, chemically, magnetically, or indeed by radioactivity. Plus harnessing any useful outcomes of quantum effects. As I believe photosynthesis is supposed to work.

I notice other posters have commented on dowsing. Whilst I have no time for woo, I sometimes despair at the counter-productive and dangerously religious anti-woo cabal that tries to restrict scientific enquiry by dismissing things a priori as woo. They're just as bad as creationists.

Doctor Syntax
Silver badge

Re: Human analogue ?

"Sometimes I wonder why people - especially scientists - seem surprised by findings like this."

Who said they were surprised? It was scientists who did the work. It's doing the work (and being prepared to be surprised but enlightened if the work had shown the hypothesis to be wrong) that makes it science.

Thoguht
Silver badge

researchers at the University of Bristol, in England

Is El Reg so international now that we need to be reminded where Bristol is? Or was that just in case somebody confused a real university with the apparently dubious (and definitely defunct) Bristol University in California?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

El Reg certainly has both an international base and audience. Geographical name references are only valid within a certain context.

The number of eponymous "Newcastle" towns/cities in England mean they may have to be qualified by an extended name or a county name when they are used for a wider audience eg "upon Tyne" or "under Lyme".

Similarly the name "Stoke" is apparently derived from the meaning of a stockade. There are several in England. A particular confusion is introduced by the city of "Stoke on Trent" which was only created in 1910. Locally referred to as "Stoke" - except when pedantically differentiating the more ancient town area of "Stoke upon Trent" within its borders.

At school I thought that the dreaming spires were apparently just a short bus ride away. When my horizons expanded it was realised that the eponymous "Ox Ford" is not limited to the famous one.

Migrants through the ages often carried their originating place name with them to found a new settlement.

onefang

"Migrants through the ages often carried their originating place name with them to found a new settlement."

Which is why Australia has New South Wales (to differentiate from South Wales), Newcastle, Texas, Paris, etc.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

They told us in school how Capt. Cook or whoever gave it the name as it reminded them of South Wales.

As an ignorant child I thought that was nice.

I later found out how much the English and Welsh hated each other.

Chronos
Silver badge

Flying nopes.

Yes, the nope-ocalypse is upon us. I shall be buying a bee-keeper's hat and avoiding open spaces. Oh wait, I'm a geek. Strike that last one as a change...

Marketing Hack
Silver badge
Unhappy

So the spiders have learned to turn our command of electricity against us??

We're doomed!! DOOMED I TELL YOU!!!!

DJV
Silver badge

Interesting timing...

...considering that Steve Ditko has recently passed away.

RIP SD - no one drew Spidey or Dr Strange quite like you did.

J.G.Harston
Silver badge

A nice tribute to Steve Ditko, RIP.

Stevie
Silver badge

Bah!

I disbelieve the electrostatic levitation of spiders.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018