Hagfish Slime Could Become Future Eco-Friendly Clothes
2013 04 05
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
Document Confirms British were Plotting to Invade Germay Before Germany Invaded Poland
2014 09 02
The declaration of war against Germany had nothing to do with Poland, and was in fact a brutal war of aggression launched for economic reasons against the peaceful German people. As you can see in Judea Declares War on Germany.
An early version of the ‘King’s Speech’ reveals Britain was preparing to declare war on Germany before Hitler invaded ...
Study Claims Cave Art Made by Neanderthals
2014 09 02
A series of lines scratched into rock in a cave near the southwestern tip of Europe could be proof that Neanderthals were more intelligent and creative than previously thought.
The cross-hatched engravings inside Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar are the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art, according to a team of scientists who studied the site. The find is significant because ...
EU Nanny State to Ban Toasters, Kettles & Hair Dryers!
2014 09 02
"Despite arctic sea ice growing by 43%, the EU nanny state is set to ban toasters, hair dryers and kettles in the name of preventing global warming."
Nigeria launches new biometric ID card - brought to you by Mastercard
2014 09 02
Yesterday afternoon, president Goodluck Jonathan became the first recipient of Nigeria’s new national eID card, in a ceremony at the presidential villa in the capital Abuja. The cards will be issued to 13 million Nigerians as part of a pilot project, with the ultimate aim of producing a national identity management system (NIMS).
Nigeria’s NIMS is an ambitious attempt to consolidate ...
LA Times Now Describing Illegal Aliens As ’Informal Workers’ Who ’Labor Unofficially’
2014 09 02
Via Weasel Zippers, we learned the Los Angeles Times has a new term for illegal aliens in the work force: they’re “informal workers,” and that doesn’t mean they don’t arrive on the job in a tuxedo.
Times reporter Tiffany Hsu (a "UC Berkeley grad") began her Saturday story with the new I-word (and illegal immigrants also “labored unofficially” in "gray employment"):
|More News » |