Spider-man has some pretty sweet abilities, but let us take a scientific look to see how well this superhero stacks up to reality.
For spider-man to become genetically modified, the spider that bit him would have to release a retrovirus into his body. Retroviruses carry genetic information which gets inserted into the DNA of cells. The cell then reads the new DNA to create specific functions and proteins for that cell. But this retrovirus would have to make its way to nearly every cell and have the ability to code for new and different functions in each cell. So while it is theoretically possible, it would also be pretty "amazing".
Silk, it is actually proportionately stronger and more flexible than steel. Spiderwebs, one tenth the size of a piece of hair are able to catch insects flying upwards of fifteen miles an hour. And, believe it or not, if a web were an inch thick in diameter it could actually stop a fighter jet.
Strength, some spiders can lift up to fifty times their body weight, this muscle strength is directly related to size. Think about your biceps, when you work out, it increases in height and width, but not length. In this way, the strength of an organism increases as a square, or by two on the scale factor. But as organisms get bigger, their volume increases by height, width and length, as a cube, or a three on the scale factor. This creates a ratio of two to three, meaning the bigger the organism, the smaller its proportional strength.
But because Spider-man is human shaped and sized, the retrovirus would have to encode for the creation of more actin and myosin proteins. These proteins effect the contraction abilities of muscles, and in effect could make a human stronger.
Climbing walls? Not a problem for spiders, they have tiny hairs on each leg, and these hairs have tons of even smaller hairs with triangular ends, which interact within nanometers of the atoms on the surface. This creates electrostatic forces, allowing them to stick with strength of one hundred and seventy times their own weight. To capture this ability, Spider-man would need permanently hairy hands and feet, which may not overly impress his damsels in distress.
And finally, what about the Spidey Sense? Well, spider hairs are extremely sensitive to vibration and air pressure changes. But this means that spider-man could only perceive things that are near him, and not events at a distance.
Got a burning question you want answered? Ask it in the comments, or on facebook and twitter, and subscribe for weekly science videos.
- 「健身」- Work Out
Think about your biceps, when you work out, it increases in height and width, but not length.
- 「等待拯救的少女」- A Damsel In Distress
To capture this ability, Spider-man would need permanently hairy hands and feet, which may not overly impress his damsels in distress.