Hagfish Slime Could Become Future Eco-Friendly Clothes
By Anna Rothschild | The World
Scientists developing today’s high-tech products often look to nature for ideas. Velcro was inspired by the tiny barbs on plant seeds, and the shape of Japan’s bullet train was inspired by the beak of a kingfisher. Now some Canadian scientists are studying a natural material from the oceans that might inspire the clothing of the future. Anna Rothschild of our partner program NOVA reports.
At the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, a large blue building sits in the middle of campus. A room inside is filled with giant fish tanks.
Biologist Tim Winegard walks over to a tank that holds what look like eels. He dips a wooden pole in the water to fish one out.
These are hagfish, ancient snake-like creatures that live on the bottom of the ocean. Winegard places one of the animals in a bucket and lightly squeezes it.
Hagfish are not true fish. They do not have backbones.
He removes his hand from the bucket and displays a thick mass of clear mucus. “There’s a pretty impressive volume of slime there,” he says.
Hagfish produce a lot of slime. It serves as a form of defense.
Hagfish are not true fish. They are more primitive creatures that have been around for perhaps 500 million years. They don’t have jaws, so they have evolved their own way to protect themselves from predators – like sharks. In fact, some scientists recently recorded videos of sharks attacking hagfish.
When a shark tries to bite a hagfish, its mouth and gills are covered with slime. “The slime and the fibers that are within it clog the gill surface of [the shark],” says Winegard, “which causes them potentially to suffocate, but definitely to abort the attack.”
It turns out that hagfish slime may have uses for people, too.
The slime is composed of thread-like fibers.
“When you stretch the fibers in water and then dry them out they take on properties that are very silk-like,” says Douglas Fudge, who heads this research project at the University of Guelph.
Hagfish fibers are incredibly thin and extremely strong, and that gave Fudge and his colleagues an idea.
For years, scientists have been looking for natural alternatives to synthetic fiber like nylon and spandex that are made from oil, which is a nonrenewable resource.
In contrast, hagfish threads are made from proteins.
“Proteins are a renewable resource because we can get organisms to make them,” says Fudge.
No one has made a spool of hagfish thread yet, but Fudge and his team see a future where hagfish slime or similar proteins could be turned into high-performance, eco-friendly clothing. The fibers might be used for stockings or breathable athletic wear or even bullet-proof vests.
Read the full article at: theworld.org
Sonic Fabric Recycled Neckties
Google Glass can identify people by their clothing
Clothing made out of milk?
Smart clothes offer emotional aid
1 Million Spiders Make Golden Silk for Rare Cloth
Scientists film hagfish anti-shark slime weapon
Latest News from our Front Page
Anglo-Saxon Sword and Helmet from Staffordshire Hoard Reconstructed
Thousands of metal fragments from the Staffordshire Hoard have been reconstructed into two "significant" new 7th Century objects.
Researchers have pieced together parts of a silver helmet and a previously unseen form of sword pommel.
The hoard, which is valued at Â£3.2m, was found in a field near Burntwood, Staffordshire in July 2009.
Both items have been put on display at Birmingham's Museum ...
ALEC corruption: Legislators and corporate lobbyists meet in secret at Savannah resort
The Georgia Legislature has a message for voters: don't ask us about our meetings with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors.
The 11Alive Investigators tracked lawmakers to a resort hotel in Savannah last week, where we observed state legislators and lobbyists mingling in the hotel bar the night before they gathered in private rooms to decide what new laws would best serve ...
Swedish politician: US is the true cause of the masses of refugees from the Middle East
Editors Note: And who controls US foreign policy? Listen to Jeff Gates.
The present Swedish debate about war refugees from the Middle East is an example of peer restricted expression. In the name of political correctness or perceived decency, any questioning of maximum generosity in opening Swedish borders for the refugees is indignantly rejected by the official mainstream. We have a ...
Even if Patriot Act Expires, Government Will Keep Spying on All Americans
Government Will Use "Secret Interpretations" to Get Around Legal Prohibitions
Mass surveillance under the Patriot Act is so awful that even its author says that the NSA has gone far beyond what the Act intended (and that the intelligence chiefs who said Americans aren't being spied on should be prosecuted for perjury).
Specifically, the government is using a "secret interpretation" of the ...
The TPP, Monsanto, Rockefeller, Trilateral Commission, Brzezinski
All hands on deck for global, economic, corporate dictatorship
There are dots to connect here. They're real, and they're spectacular.
Let me begin with a brief exchange from a 1978 interview, conducted by reporter Jeremiah Novak. He was speaking with two American members of the Trilateral Commission (TC), a group founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller and his intellectual flunkey, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
|More News » |