How Spidey Flies?

Have you ever watched a Spider-Man movie and wondered whether real spiders can do anything remotely like what Spidey does? Well, it turns out that they can. However, not even Spidey, or his friends Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, really knew how. No one did, until recently.

Just over this past week there have been a slew of news stories about an article published in Current Biology by researchers Erica L. Morley and Daniel Robert from the University of Bristol. Here is a cute video narrated by Morley that describes their neat study.


Here is the original article and other articles based upon it.
Electric fields elicit ballooning in spiders (Erica L. Morley and Daniel Robert, Current Biology)

Spiders go ballooning on electric fields (University of Bristol, AAAS EurekAlert)
Watch a ballooning spider take flight (Emily Underwood, Science Magazine)
Spiders Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Using Electricity (Ed Yong, The Atlantic)
It turns out spiders ’fly’ on magnoelectricity (Robby Berman, Big Think)

The video makes the phenomena of spider ballooning sound so fascinating, you might even think it would be cool to see it for yourself. However, in reality, very few reader’s would enjoy an encounter with the real thing.

Every few years a story comes along about it happening somewhere in the world, and those descriptions generally sound a lot less entertaining. For example, here’s a quick video and some stories about an incident of “spider rain” in South Australia in 2015.


Why is it raining spiders in Australia? (Elizabeth Palermo, Christian Science Monitor)
It’s Raining Spiders In Australia, And That Excites UFO Believers (Eric Mack, Forbes)

Yuck. Seeing spider rain is definitely NOT on my bucket list.

On the other hand, seeing Spider-Man fly in fiction is fine. While writing this post, I tripped across this 360° video of Spidey flying.

That was fun. It also struck me as funny. I think it’s a good thing that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko weren’t too accurate in their depiction of how spiders fly. Don’t you agree?

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