A group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has used artificial intelligence (AI) to create an eerie soundtrack based on the structure of spiderwebs — to better understand how spiders spin their complex creations and see the world.
In collaboration with the Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno, the MIT team created 3D models of spiderwebs when the arachnids were engaging in different activities; construction, repair, hunting, and feeding.
They then listened for patterns in the spider signals, and used mathematical algorithms to associate vibrational patterns with certain actions, essentially learning the spider's language.
"Spiders have very keen vibrational sensors, they use vibrations as a way to orient themselves, to communicate with other spiders and so the idea of thinking literally like a spider would experience the world was something that was very obvious to us as spider material scientists," said MIT engineering professor Markus Buehler in an interview with CNN.
Buehler has been interested in the connection between music and materials on the molecular level for several years, and hopes that this study will eventually lead his team to communicate with spiders and perhaps induce them to respond to signals in a certain way.
In addition to the scientific value, Buehler said the webs are musically compelling and that listeners can hear the melodies the spider creates during construction.
"It's unusual and eerie and scary, but ultimately beautiful," he said.