Ten Thousand Volts, Hundred Volts discussed on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe


Party real ones you are all set you don't need to do really anything else that's fantastic no it to go yes any who darwin wrote the following in his diary i caught some of the aero noughts spiders which must have come at least sixty miles how inexplicable is the cause which induces these small insects as it now appears in both hemispheres to undertake their aerial excursions so darwin thought though that 'electricity might be involved very prescient since the spider threads he observed seem to push each other apart from a static charge your hair after be after being touched by party balloon so but for centuries though i it seems to me that i think it just seemed to obvious the wind of course it's the wind what what else could possibly be the wind is is pulling on the threads and lifting them into the most likely candidate right so it's those things that you never even questioned but if you unless you're looking really closely which is kind of what scientists all about so there was an increasing amount of skepticism especially you know relatively recently of course very observant people made keen observation that it just seems like the wind seem less and less likely because sometimes there's clearly not enough wind to lift some of these spiders almost no wind at all and these spiders are taking off like how are they even taking off with a barely perceptible win and then of course you had large spiders were ballooning so much so that it was obvious the wind could not possibly account the wind could not possibly lift these corpulent arachnids so twenty thirteen university of hawaii is peter gorham he calculated that it was theoretically possible that spider silk was conducting static electricity and that could be used to sort through the atmosphere so we kinda showed that yeah this is doable but it was only recently however that eric morley who was an sensory biophysicist hello that sounds cool at the university of bristol she was able to prove this a laboratory setting now more they used to live that could replicate the electric field in the atmosphere which is always there even when we don't see or hear the crackle of lightning i mean this is a real thing the the upper atmosphere is positive and the earth is negative and the difference between the two the atmospheric potential gradient ap and who doesn't love good gradient right jay so today it was cloudless in this in my part of connecticut but ap g levels were still around probably a hundred volts per per meter and during a storm though it could be a hundred times that amount ten thousand volts per meter so this is basically a constant electric circuit that's revolving around the earth and the spider lab can replicate that with the flick of a switch so they essentially had some spiders in their lab itching to fly just wanting to balloon thinking in my mind so as soon as they electrified the lab the spiders deadwood what they do only when they wanna go ballooning they raised their abdomen in the air and they did what's called tiptoeing the kind of like lift ultimately lifting some of their legs kind of a person on their tiptoes they only do that when they wanna balloon that's the only time they strike that that pose some of them actually released silk and took off into the air and don't forget there's no wind in this lab they made sure that there was no wind and they still took off and then as they turn the field off they slowly settled to the ground so that's pretty damn good evidence in my book so you may be asking how do they even know and it's like this work right the hairs on their legs i think the actually observed they could observe the hairs raising up in the presence of the field and that's called trick oh buth rea why go trick trick oh trickle bothia sensing sensing electric bills yeah your hair the trick oh right is hair and baa3 i whatever i guess it said sensing an electric field with your hair with your with your hair's like when your hair stands on end you could feel that right i mean you you could feel that happening and that's pretty much what they're what they're doing so yeah so it's pretty much a done deal what they said was that we don't know yet whether electric fields are required to allow spider ballooning we do however know that they are sufficient said morely in a press statement so so they.

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