Part-goat, part-spider, all bullet-proof! Could this be the new tagline for the humans of tomorrow? A scientist by the name of Jalila Essaidi hope so!
Her project, “2.6g 329m/s,” named after the weight and bullet velocity a Type 1 bulletproof vest is required to protect you from, isn’t concerned with merely building a better type of vest. No, Essaidi wants to build a better type of human – and she’s using special genetically modified spider-goats to do it!
She’s built a prototype (seen at right) that is a wafer of spider silk matrix sandwiched between two layers of human tissue. And while it’s not exactly stopping any bullets yet, it does show a lot of promise. You might not know it, but spider silk is some kind of wonder material capable of doing all sorts of neat stuff. Unfortunately it’s harder than hell to come by. Spiders themselves are tiny and don’t produce a lot of it. And if you get more than one of them side by side in some kind of assembly line they’ll more than likely just end up killing one another.
So scientists at the University of Wyoming decided to introduce the spiders’ dragline silk gene into goats so that the it could be extracted from the goats’ milk. Now with all this extra spider-goat silk, scientists like Essaidi can continue to develop new uses for them.
Essaidi’s ultimate goal is to take the same genetic process and use it to replace keratin in our skin with spider’s silk thereby making each of use impervious to bullets! Obviously we’re still a ways off from this but just the idea of being able to stop a speeding bullet with your bare hand is enticing enough to want to keep an eye on this project as it moves forward.