The spider and the 747

It is suggested that one strand of pencil thick spider silk can stop a Boeing 747 in flight.

So says the study “Molecular spring: from spider silk to silkworm silk,” Xiang Wu, Xiang-Yang Liu, Ning Du, Gang-Qin Xu, Bao-Wen Li, arxiv.org/abs/0902.3518, 2009. The study tries to explain why this is so (or at least approximately so).

(Thanks to The Physics arXiv Blog for bringing this to our attention.)