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Silky smooth: Researchers unravel mysteries about spiders

Scientists have found recent success on the path to understanding what makes the fiber that spiders spin -- weight for weight -- at least five times as strong as steel. Spider silk is an exceptional biological polymer related to collagen (the stuff of skin and bones), but much more complex in its structure. A team of chemists is studying its molecular structure in an effort to produce materials for uses ranging from civil and mechanical engineering to artificial, yet biocompatible, tendons.

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