Spiders on Speed: NASA scientists inexplicably investigated web spinning by stoned spiders. Turns out that the geometrical structure of a web provides a good measure of the condition of its central nervous system.
• LSD: Webs took on a minimalist structure.
• Marijuana: Spiders made a reasonable stab at spinning webs but appeared to lose concentration about half-way through.
• Amphetamine (“speed”): Webs retained their size but showed an increase in spiral spacing and radius irregularity, as well as a decrease in building efficiency. Spiders spin their webs “with great gusto, but apparently without much planning leaving large holes”, according to New Scientist magazine.
• Caffeine: makes spiders incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.
• Chloral hydrate (an ingredient of sleeping pills): spiders “drop off before they even get started”.
In slightly more relevant work, spiders were shown to spin perfectly good webs in microgravity ▶ http://goo.gl/0T7lK
Extrapolation to Humans: Stunning “under the influence” self portraits of artist Bryan Lewis Saunders in Feisal Kamil’s post here ▶ http://goo.gl/3xYSy Warning: Do not try this at home!
Confession: Since I’m jet lagged and awake since midnight, I’ve been abusing caffeine. I won’t post a picture of my web.
Hilarious “mocumentary”: Spiders On Drugs
#sciencesunday ScienceSunday #spidersunday
i suppose the important question is whether the web still works or not.
NASA had to use the Robusta variety of coffee rather than Arabica due to budget cuts 🙂
So spiders get creative when under the influence?
Feisal Kamil…caffeine from coffee or green tea?
An excellent question, Suhail Manzoor . I would guess that the ones with gaping holes and only the main struts would be pretty ineffective. Then again, the spider’s behavior towards the prey could be affected as well.
LOL, Ramesh Sundararajan ! I hope they used dark/French roast. I’m picky that way 🙂
Feisal Kamil : The effect of caffeine is surprisingly severe on web spinning. See another image here, extremely messed up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_of_psychoactive_drugs_on_animals
Caffeine is a natural insecticide. Plants make it to ward off pests. It is well known to release calcium from intracellular stores by affecting ion channels.
The normal structure of web seems to be a combination of all the other structures. Does this show that a spider is always in the influence of all these drugs? 😉
The results of the caffeine one were unexpected to me as well, but your explanation makes sense.
I drink loads of coffee, now I know why I don’t get anything done.
The LSD web looks relatively uniformed!
I am thinking the LSD web is probably going to freak out what comes into it 😉 A really though provoking post this one. I mean, could there be substances that allows them to make even better webs?
I thought there was more caffeine in coffee? I can’t drink coffee…it gives me a tummy ache!
Suhail Manzoor , spiders make at least 7 different types of silk. I believe that the silk that forms the main outwardly radiating lines is different from the concentric ones. The spiders know what to walk on so they don’t get stuck as their prey do. From that, I would conclude that the LSD induced webs would be pretty useless, Mary Owens .
What no spider web from a spider surfing the Internet? Oh wait, there wouldn’t be a web, the spider would be thinking ‘just one more click and I’ll get started’.
Wow. You know so much Rajini Rao
Rajini Rao…the LDS web looked kinda cool. I guess what Nancy Reagan said is true…”say no to drugs Charlotte”!
LOL, Mary Owens . Please note that this spider post does not trigger arachnophobia (pats self on back).
Ramesh Sundararajan , I hope you are being humorous 🙂
I am okay…no creepy pictures have been shown this post….thanks for reminding me Rajini Rao.
P.S. Do check out the YouTube video linked in the post 😀
Oops, should I not have done that, Mary Owens
I don’t think so Rajini Rao!
Careful Rajini Rao…karma will get you…
Rajini Rao – no i wasn’t being humorous – It’s awesome that you know so much about spiders and webs.
Years ago I saw a web made by a spider on LSD and it didn’t look at all as this one, but like the caffeine one.
BWAHAHAHAHAA at the video…I remember watching those Hinterland Who’s Who videos in Canada as a kid but the comedic reworking of that one was epic.
Víktor Bautista i Roca , the original study was done decades ago by Dr. Peter Witt..you may have seen that one. Here is a link to that story, although the webs are not labeled adequately. http://fractalenlightenment.com/600/chill-out/spiders-weave-better-on-lsd-25
…has to be more than a degree of psychochemical anthropomorphism in this. Up the complexity ladder, if you did this with dogs (well, if dogs were wired to actually create a structure of some sort) and, oh, used chocolate as a test variable, well… the results would be very sad. Time for pancakes and coffee!
I like the way your mind works, David Archer 🙂
Did you see the bizarre paintings in Feisal Kamil ‘s link? They inspired me to find the spider webs.
Rajini Rao Yes – although the ‘butane and honey’ entry sent me googling. Not a good advert for cocaine!
Rajini Rao According to the study’s abstract: «Caffeine led to a general decrease in size and a slight increase in spiral spacing, as well as radius irregularity. Furthermore, caffeine caused webs to be rounder.»
Also, look on the graphs (it’s F), and see it has nothing to do with your pictures: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938404002094
Rajini Rao Could it be that caffeine (and the other methylated xanthines) are just toxic for everything, and a few species (particularly fruit eating ones like monkys) have enzymes to break them down? This would explain why chocolate is deadly for dogs and coffee is bad for human babies (no need for the enzyme before weaning); and why coffee grounds are used by gardeners to kill slugs. The obvious animals to test the theory on would be macrobats (if I’m right, it should be harmless for them but being destroyed in other ways than we do).
Hmm…It’s concentration dependent, Víktor Bautista i Roca . Most links I looked at mentioned that for all the drugs. I suspect the one in the image on my post was at a higher concentration. The Pubmed link I gave was a paper by a Danish group, not NASA or Dr. Witt.
I did a Google Image search for “spiderweb caffeine”and saw a range of images.
Ralf Muschall , that is a good theory. Caffeine is broken down by the cytochrome P450 pathway. There are known to be genetic differences in metabolism rates. See this summary: http://teeccino.com/building_optimal_health/81/Caffeine-Metabolism.html
Caffeine kills even humans at high doses. Recently someone died by eating too many coffee beans (not sure if they were chocolate covered).
Why macrobats? I don’t know about them…
LOLOL! Thank you David Archer .
Wait, seriously no alcohol nor nicotine?
So amazing. What about alcohol? Nicotine? Opium?
I’m pretty sure alcohol and nicotine have been tried. I’ll have to google to find the relevant images 🙂
I need more coffee. What I intended to write is the group whose correct name is megabats (Flying Foxes etc., as opposed to the insectivorous microbats). My drug-deprived brain picked “macro” instead of “mega”.
For the why – I want a group that is as unrelated to humans as possible (this excludes monkeys and rodents – various hypothetical trees are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epitheria). Xenarthra or Afrotheria would be even better, but neither dugongs nor Armadillos climb trees. But now that I’m thinking more about this, let’s look for sloths – as cute as bats, no flying away or screeching, no ebola – perfect.
Caffeine is natures insecticide. Just like Rajini Rao said 🙂
Daren Harmon Am I the only one who was shocked when they presented the cute groundbeetle (1:18) as a bug deserving to be killed?
The cannabis induced web is a work in progress; the spider stopped to snack on a fly that got stuck on the completed part 🙂
That was a great informative vid Daren Harmon , and I agree with Ralf..a pretty cool beetle even googly eyed from a caffeine high 🙂
Martin Geoffrey Lake , I believe they are pretty methodical about web spinning. There is a huge amount of info on the chemistry of spider silk and it’s physical properties. I’m not that familiar with web patterns, though. If anyone knows, please chime in.
but why would a spider build a web,on drugs..???
it would be like we taking drugs and going about our normal lifes….:P
Eduardo Tijerino , cannabis increases the appetite, so your hypothesis is a plausible one 😉
Vijay Raj , isn’t that what people do with caffeine? I’m not personally familiar with the other chemicals in this study so I don’t know what people do after consumption 😛
Rajini Rao but Caffine is not your regular “DRUG” drug…
but still may be building web is the only thing for spiders,unlike humans(who find many more things to waste time). and dosage also matters,any thing in over dose will screw the web,i mean a swab of drug for a spider??
Spiders On Drugs!
The LSD web looks like nice…. the caffeine one is a waste. I feel happy to hate coffee.
Peter Lindelauf Wow! Count the tropes on that page. LOL
No coffee for you, Joan Hogol ?? 🙂
Peter Lindelauf , that link made me happy, thanks!
I don’t think my piggy bank has enough pennies for that experiment, so I’ll settle for a vicarious thrill via the divine Dean.
Nop, Rajini Rao No coffe, nor LSD 🙂
Maybe the caffeine spider show how did a probability study where the best places to have more or less webbing was?
Does the web really need to be symmetrical? Maybe that’s less efficient. I can almost take the view that the spider is thinking differently in a more fundamental way than all the others. It could be a good thing.
Who are we to judge what the best spider web is? Did they catch more or less food?
Sorry, I didn’t have time to read all the comments.
The LSD web seems more of a perfect web.
Haha, thanks for that too, Peter Lindelauf .
Jonathan Langdale , I agree with you that the ultimate test would be ability to catch prey (that was brought up in the comments). Unfortunately, not tested. Although, you will agree that some of those structures have big gaping holes in them. The effect on behavior is another story altogether.
I wish we had a real spider expert on this thread. Does anyone know of one? Chris Mallory ? Kimberly Hosey ? They are the curators of Spider Sunday .
Daniel Chapman , agree that it is quite symmetrical, but it’s missing the cross hatching strands..it only has the outward rays!
Priorities, right Sean Carolan ? 😉
Rajini Rao It also makes me wonder if some webs are more or less able to carry vibration to the spider, does that matter depending on the species, or do all insects that touch or land on a web always become permanently stuck? Does the spider response time matter? And, is it possible that spiders can sense air vibrations with with webs? Does it matter what is going on around them, sound wise, when they are creating the webs (as in insect mating calls, or other patterns, etc.)?
I have endless questions, questions that lead to more questions. I’m currently fascinated with cryptography, so I cannot go off and read about spiders or I will never finish a thought. Although, it wouldn’t surprise me if spiders and their web had some analogy with cryptography.
If a spider expert you need, maybe Vincent Lefebvre has some insight 🙂
I know what you mean, Jonathan Langdale . I mentioned earlier that there are at least 7 different types of spider silk (for draglines, mummifying, etc.). I also know that some strands are sticky and others are not, and that the spiders know which is which. They do sense vibrations, that is how they know that a prey has been trapped in the web. Pound for pound, spider silk is stronger than the best steel..I know something about the repeating structures of spider silk protein and I’ll write it up as a post sometime.
Feel to ping me on that post, Rajini Rao. 😀
Right, but other than something stuck on the web which is moving, might it be sensitive enough to pickup air vibrations or loud noises? Can spiders hear through webs?
I read about this years ago
wow, i didn’t know that much about spiders !!! i have couple of hanging in my apartment 😛
Ghanshyam Khatri , quick go check their webs to see if they’ve been taking any drugs 🙂
Jonathan Langdale Here is what I pulled up on spider’s hearing: A spider hears with very tiny hairs on her legs (thrichobotria). She is very capable of localizing the origin of a sound by interpreting the movement of the air produced by that sound.
Rajini Rao Interesting. That would seem to support the idea that perhaps different webs can hear various sounds in unique ways, and it’s not just about maximally symmetrical coverage area. Although, it it still might be that the symmetrical web is better for a single frequency.
Or, you might want one web to hear different frequencies… That might make it less symmetrical with areas on a single web localized to hear a specific air vibration which all aggregate into a single vibration in the center.
lol … they are sleeping, i will check it tomorrow 😛
Give ’em some booze. The old man will be hanging out with bros and watching Spider Olympics (not trademarked) and the old lady (widow?) will be out networking.
Dave Stacey Your saying it’s not spam does not make it any less. That is spam you jerk!!!
The one on weed was the only not fucked
web works or not
Jim Carver I just flag them.
Yeah, or go on a blocking rampage. Jonathan Langdale
Easy enough to delete.
I think it’s better that a bunch of people flag/block them enough that G+ handles it. Deleting the comments seems like a loss of information. Although, it would tend to save some time.
I’ve flagged comments on other people’s posts and they still seem to show up. I’m never sure if the flagging is effective.
I’ve been getting more trash on my page also since the update. Everybody knows I’m an aggressive blocker and I also run with the ball fairly well sometimes. 🙂
I only block someone if they are deliberately vulgar..I mean obviously out to be crude. Unfortunately, there are such comments.
Rajini Rao I think you have more patience than I do.
Re: flagging, I do it A LOT on other people’s posts, because spam can be so plentiful especially on the big topics. It doesn’t appear to do anything though, and unlike facebook I don’t get the chance to report the people afterward. Hm.
I haven’t paid much attention to Google+ until this. Blocking seems to be purposively difficult. I have no idea how this started showing up on my Google+ display.
Nothing against you, but I would have preferred to just be getting info from people I selected to follow.
My patience is a work in progress, Jim Carver 🙂
I can get bitchy, but I have a point. The trouble with some of these is they have no point. They’re pointless. That’s when I go watch the old MP skit about spam and laugh my ass off. 😀
That’s been my experience too, Chris Mallory . The text turns grey, but when I return to the post, it seems to have reverted to normal text.
yea love that spam skit.
Flag as inappropriate comes back after a refresh or anything really. They refresh when they want to. The only way to really get rid of pests is to block them. Just like voting: It’s better to do it sooner than later. (and some would say often:)
You forgot cocaine
So better go with tea (theine) i think not much harmfull
Also read that some plants may have developed caffeine as a defense against insects.
as I said in a similar post, this confirms the hypothesis that coffee clears the cobwebs in your mind.
Hah, good one Hemant Shah 🙂
A high spider that’s pretty wild lol
Really nice…. I use to work with caffeine….I think I should stop with it!!!!!
Would be interesting to see effects of benzodiazepine Rajini Rao
What’s the point of the experiment
I’ll stop drinking coffee 😥
Its a youtube video called crack spider! It is hilarious! My friends parents showed it to me!
Spiderman says: “Don’t do drugs”
Interesting work but a waste of money. How did they decide the proper dosage? Even if u just OD water, u maybe in danger.
Yasser Affridi Clearly, the point is that if the web is any indicator, then caffeine is clearly the worst drug of those tested.
Xiao-Pei Guan Not a waste of money at all.
The original drug web experiments were summarized in the book, A Spider’s Web: Problems in regulatory biology, by Witt, Reed, and Peakall in 1968. The very first experiments were done in Tuebingen in hopes of shifting web building from 4:00am by giving the spider a stimulant but soon took a different direction.
Xiao-Pei Guan , they used a series of doses and compared them. The image only shows one for each compound. These sorts of experiments are not intrinsically expensive to run..no fancy equipment needed. As for the usefulness, the webs are a sensitive reporter for the chemicals.
Another myth busted!
Amazing, this too looks like the anatomy of an eyeball:
My question is…how much of each drug was exposed to the spider(s). The makeup of spiders and humans are totally different.
I love this!!!!
The reason Witt and his co-workers used spider webs was that they needed a behavior that was stereotyped and as nearly instinctual as possible to eliminate experience and learning as variables. Spider web building behavior turned out to be an excellent laboratory model system.
Joel Harp , thanks so much for the insights. I read that Witt did the experiments to help out a friend who wanted the web building delayed until later in the morning!
Excellent point about monitoring stereotypic behavior.
That explains the politicians attempts to fix the budget I thought LSD was illegal?
No more coffee for me!
Caffeinated spiders don’t get much to eat apparently
Welcome to 2004.
Joaquim Vilhena de Oliveira : No, of course not. The web building program is a model of complex behavior that follows a relatively simple set of rules. It is used to understand our central nervous system since the basic building blocks (neurochemicals, signaling pathways) are similar. BTW, a spider is an arachnid, not an insect 🙂
no kidding 🙂
…. Or mayb they are not high enough .. -)
Humh. i would’ve never thought of giving my pet spider(s) drugs. But okay!
Looks like caffeine is the worst ‘drug’ for SPIDERS!! I wonder if anyone has studied how the resulting webs catch food for the little arachnids? Nevertheless, this IS a most interesting demonstration – I’ve seen it before.
woo! that pretty weird.
That’s kinda weird but I’d it makes the webs faster than you decide If u want 2 do it
And more spiders on drugs.
give the spider a can of monster
That is awesome
i think that the spider in 1st web differ from the others because the web for differs from the others
To those crying about caffeine, you can’t look at the effects of a substance and directly translate it to another. They might not be able to metabolise it as well as the other species, and that is what causes different effects on different species. A perfect example is cocoa and dogs. Cocoa contains theobromine (sp?), which is a stimulant similar to caffeine. Dogs, cats, and horses, to name a few, can’t metabolise it as quickly as we can, and that is what makes it have such a different effect on their system. Hence why chocolate is poisonous to dogs yet harmless to humans.
Rajini were these spiders in your presence ? If so I suspect the intoxicant was not the stated substances but your own beautiful self !
how do they give spiders drugs?
Very interesting experiment. Thanks for posting.
they dont have blood
Miguel Duran , excellent points. Thank you for the explanation!
I believe that caffeine is a neurotoxin for at least some species of insects – that it was evolved as a defense mechanism so a given plant could avoid being eaten.
Sometimes I feel that caffeine may also be a little neurotoxic for me as well – but truly, the dose makes the poison.
Glad I don’t do any of the spiders thinking..
The crack cocaine spider figured building webs was for “suckas”
Excellent I like it
And these pictures are from how long ago?
No less relevant I’m sure, but…
Spiders On Drugs
The one on lsd had to go the hospital because he was freaking out thinking people were crawling all over itself.
Alistair McHarg , the first study was done by P.N. Witt in 1948. This was followed by Nathanson in 1984, published in the journal Science, and repeated in 1995 by the NASA group. Which one of these do you recall? LSD resulted in more ordered webs. Perhaps this is what you refer to as beautiful? Certainly order is beautiful 🙂
To what commentary do you specifically refer to as phony? I’m all agog to learn the basis of your “tip off”.
lol. how do you drug a spider?
Wow! Your post ‘s on hot list again. Very cool. Nice post as usual.
I love the hippie minimalist LSD tripping web, and unfortunately I would say more but I am hyped up on a huge tall glass of liquid caffeine.
the half-assed marijuana web is my fav
So, the take away here is that I should have a morning cup of LSD? At least everything would result in a straight line.
When I want to spin a nice web, I will give up my coffee.
Well Rajini Rao You may very well enjoy this nature video from Canada’s National Film Board vignettes: Spiders On Drugs
Valerie Herron I agree with you 100%
Caffeine is disturbing for sure 8)
I wonder what impact alcohol would have on a spider’s web… or, perhaps the booze would just kill the spider outright… OR since a spider’s digestion is vastly different from our own, perhaps it would have no impact… I’d be interested :-p
The true question is not which web look nicest but which is most effective and possibly an evolutionary advantage?
After reading a lot of the comments it seems a few of us coffee drinkers are a bit defensive lol
how u doing
im a alien i do not come in peace
Who knows this spider might hate coffee from childhood, and it might be drug addicted spider.
next time choose a healthy spider who work in office or in design company. it will sure show some awesome web.
Great Post love the idea that this has anything to do with the parallel affect to Humans. For gods sake Spiders dont even have viens So how could this even come close to the affect. Another Waist of money in this world that could have gone into the mouth of a hungry child.
This is pretty interesting. I would think however that spiders are wired differently compared to humans. Caffeine certainly doesn’t do that to me.
So why is NASA doing this? Maybe they know something we don’t know. Maybe spider aliens are about to attack us and our only defense is coffee! Sounds like an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Notice no bath salts.
Notice no bath salts.
very interesting good thing i dont do caffeine
The cafeine one was clearly built to catch pidgeons. Spiders on cafeine, watch out
The marijuana spider isn’t lazy, he just stopped to appreciate what he has done so far.
what drugs were the scientists on to work on such things ?? 😛
LSD looks like a screen shot from Tempest! Jeff Minter approves.
Kevin Marshall Holy shit… it does… :O
So what about natural variation? 4 different spiders will build 4 different webs. Regardless if one is a crack head or not!
Shawn Dunne , your question is both valid and important.Tthe differences between -/+ drug would have to be greater than the individual differences between any spider cohort alone. I don’t know how exactly these experiments were done (one could dig out the papers and read them!), but web structures are actually quite amenable to quantification..one could measure strand length, number and so on. In fact, while putting this post together, I did see results reporting on changes in weight and thickness of the web strands and of the spiders too, in response to drug. So the researchers must have methods of quantifying changes.
Since I’m jet lagged and awake since midnight, I’ve been abusing caffeine. I won’t post a picture of my web
Hilarious Rajini Rao !!!
Too late for this thread sadly 😦
Was busy throughout the day with practicals.
Deeksha Tare hope the experiments turned out better than these webs 🙂
How do you get a spider to take marijuana? Have it eat a roach? (lol, just kidding.)
Gregor Duncan , easy. Just feed it grass 😉
Do you feed them straight out of the pot?
Seriously, I find the caffeine web disturbing as I can’t go without my double espressos in the morning. ( What could it be doing to my thought processes and/or nervous system?) If there was ever a visual expression of the caffeine jitters, that’s it. lol
What I would really be interested to see is effect on webs after the drugs have been cleared from the system. Its obvious that psycho-modulating drugs would mess with geometry but its questionable weather results are better or worst (think Euclid vs Lobachevsky geometry, both valid yet later would be clearly seen as work of drug addict by majority). Even in drug affecting states, for instance, maybe normal network is overkill, and cocaine network has better ratio of CatchRate/Expenses.
Most of the beneficial effects of plants are due to hormesis – small doses of certain poisons which are not enough to FUBAR you but are enough to activate “repair bot” who cleans, repairs and fortifies the affected body systems. This fortification can have profound influence on general health. Exercise is perfect example, but also alcohol, cold showers, 1-2 cigs a day, various poisons (i.e. vitamin B17, Metformin etc.). So when you exercise like a nutjob, you get muscle inflammation and damage, subsequently your body hurts, you are less agile and you can’t do much. But after some time, your abilities are clearly improved.
Scientists probably used the big dose on spiders which has no relevance to normal life. How about increasing doses. Furthermore, like somebody said about dogs and theophiline (not caffeine), effect is dependent on species and the dose. The fact that plants make caffeine as insecticide is basically meaningless without a dose – vitamin D is also used as a rat poison.
We are initially struck by the symmetry, but, the catch rate/expense is much more important. It would be interesting to see how it changed their designs over time. Good points. your examples brought to mind some things I recently read on autohemotherapy.
🙂 That’s why I don’t drink coffe.
Do I take it that all other environmental factors are neutral ? And that the webs are in fact truly comparable in every dimension as opposed to there physical presentation ? No differences as to scale etc.?
Also is the consumption of each substance comparable in dosage and/or abdorbtion ?
caffeine …most dangerous ?
Anyone who has pinned bugs understands that you can kill and dry insects and spiders with alcohol. Lol. Which is why it would be very hard to test. Essentially you take a specimen and soak it at increasing alcohol concentrations to preserve the body. Or maybe I’m a nerd. Oh well. Go stoner spider! 80)
Oh and of anyone is wondering. To et an insect stoned on marijuana, they’d probably just use a smoke chamber. Lol. But I liked the idea of attempting to feed a rich to it. Totally entertaining thought there. Lol
Wooow … :-O
Beware of caffeine … 😉
rehab from what ?
can u shoot up cor132 col blue amphetamine salt tablets
just wonder? any feedback
What about alcohol mixed with weed or marijuana