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
The Unsafe Child: Less Outdoor Play is Causing More Harm than Good
The third grade classroom that was visiting our nature center for the day consisted of mostly boys–rowdy, loud and rambunctious boys. As we started out into the woods, the children spoke loudly to each other in anticipation of what was to come. After playing a quick game and explaining the ground rules, it was time for free play. As soon ...
Rights group demand police need warrant to access data
American citizens should be able to rest safe in the knowledge that no one has the right to pry into their digital records, where they have been and how long they stayed there.
The Supreme Court has just received a brief from the Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) stating that this should certainly be the case. However, in the case of Davis v. ...
Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities
Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city [Milwaukee]. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this yearâ€“after 86 homicides in all of 2014.
More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ...
Bulgaria - Islamic State Terrorists Caught Crossing Into Europe Posing As Refugees
Bulgarian authorities near the Gyueshevo border checkpoint detained the five men, aged between 20 and 24, late on Wednesday, Bulgarian broadcaster NOVA TV reported.
The men were stopped by a border guard, who they attempted to bribe with a “wad of dollars.” However, they were searched and Islamic State propaganda, specific Jihadists prayers and decapitation videos were found on their phones.
How This NY Mom Made the Case for Her Sonâ€™s Religious Vaccine Exemption
An unidentified, Russian immigrant mother who practices the Russian Orthodox faith, has secured a religious vaccine exemption for her autistic son. New York has a bill on the table to eliminate religious exemption and to root out those who weren’t refusing vaccines on strictly devout, religious grounds. Yet, this woman’s plight goes back before talk of eliminating the exemption – two ...
|More News » |