Tokyo: It might be just your arachnophobia: Japnese researchers have created a pair of comfortable yet durable socks from spider thread and silk.
"By genetically modifying silk worms, I thought it might be possible to create good spider silk." said Masao Nakagaki,a professor at Shinshu Univercity in central Japan who devoloped the fiber after 10 years of research."I think it is better for the environment to replace artificial fibres that use up precious oil with natural recyclable fibres," he said on Monday.
Nakagaki succeeded in creating spider silk consisting of 10% spider proteins and 90% silk by injecting genes from a golden orb weaving spider in to silk worms.Spiders produce at least seven different types of thread,ranging from tough ones that the web to elastic ones encircling it.
Experts say these threads are stronger than STEEL and LIGHTER than existing artificial fibres such as Kevlar, used for bullet-proof vests.But spider fibers are difficult to mass produce to the limited amount that spiders can make.The developers of the spider socks aim to revitalize both the weavers' feet with possible anti-aging effects and Japan's waning silk and socks industry.
"these Japanese industries have sunk,overwhelmed by Chinese manufacturers.We want to distinguish ourselves with our unique efforts",Yoshiyuki Ueda of Okamoto Corp said,adding customers can expect to find their dream socks in stores around 2010.
Spider silk, also known as gossamer, is a fiber spun by spiders. Spider silk is a remarkably strong material. Its tensile strength is comparable to that of high-grade steel — according to Nature, spider dragline silk has a tensile strength of roughly 1.3 GPa, while one source  lists a tensile strength for one form of steel at 1.65 GPa. However, spider silk is much less dense than steel; its tensile strength to density ratio is roughly five times higher than that of steel (i.e. it is five times as strong as steel of the same density — as strong as Aramid filaments, such as Twaron or Kevlar.) In fact, a strand of spider silk long enough to circle the earth would weigh less than 16 ounces (450 g).
Other cultures also have found uses for cobwebs.Polynesian fisherman used the threads of the golden orb spider to make fishing line.