The Coffee Shop – A Noiseless Patient Spider

The Coffee Shop is an open thread-style discussion forum for human interest news of the day.


There are several hosts, each host being responsible for picking a “theme of the day” and starting the discussion. But in an open thread, there’s no hard and fast rule about staying on topic, especially if you have a personal story burning a hole in your pocket trying to escape.

Pictures and videos are welcome in the comments.  If photos are used, please be sure you own the copyright. We would rather see your personal photos anyway, instead of random stuff copied from the internet.  Our only request is that if you use pictures or videos, take pity on those who don’t have broadband, and don’t post more than two or three in a single comment.

Maori art sun-moon - small

Happy Day! Today is the Summer Solstice – it’s going to be a real hot one in Southern California, s0 break out the sunscreen and the iced tea.

Coffee cup

This is an Open Thread. Grab your cup, pull up a chair, sit a spell and share what’s on your mind today.

Spider Silk Tasmania

A Noiseless Patient Spider

by Walt Whitman
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

When record rains flooded Launceston, the second-largest city in Australia’s state of Tasmania, the local small black spiders staged a “mass ballooning event” to keep above the rising floodwaters. They coated the foliage of trees with enormous blankets of silk, over an area of about a half a mile.

Local resident Ken Puccetti, who photographed the webs, told Guardian Australia that the silk was so dense his attempts to photograph it ended with his shoes, legs, and arms covered with silk — and the occasional spider.

The rally of high-flying spiders sent out masses of silk strands, which act “a little bit like a hot-air balloon,” according to University of Akron arachnologist Todd Blackledge, which is where the name for the event came from. The spiders then ride the silk where the wind takes them. This method is used by the spiders to evacuate suddenly inhospitable areas, but also to migrate, keeping their population from becoming too dense in one area.

In 2012, spiderwebs blanketed the countryside of Wagga Wagga, in eastern Australia, after a week of record rain forced the spiders — and 13,000 people — to flee their homes. Mass ballooning events have been recorded not only in Australia, but in United States, Great Britain and Pakistan.

Robert Matthews, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Georgia, says that silk has been a “huge evolutionary breakthrough. This is one more example of why spiders have been a successful group.”

skydiving girl

We might learn something from these resilient spiders.

Considering our planet’s rising oceans, perhaps we should start including skydiving equipment in emergency survival kits.


Spider Web_drawing

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
This entry was posted in Australia, Climatology, The Coffee Shop, Walt Whitman and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Coffee Shop – A Noiseless Patient Spider

  1. Good morning. Nona. Inyeresting phenomenon! I think we do need to get off this rock…Perhaps our balloons will start with self-sustaining colonies on the moon or Mars.

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    I’ve move to see us get back to the moon – It’s been 47 years since the “giant leap.”

    Mars would be a tougher proposition – the length of the supply lines and the time it takes to get from here to there while setting up a colony would be hard to overcome with current technology.

  3. ghotiphaze says:

    I’m more of a free space advocate, myself. Once you claw your way out of the gravity well it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to dive back into one. Everything on planets came from the asteroids. What good is a larder if you have to climb up and down Everest every time you used it. Once you reach orbit you’re halfway to Anywhere. Delta v would be a function of patience.

  4. wordcloud9 says:

    Pardon my incoherent comment – too hot to sleep much last night – should be “I’d love to see us get back…”

    ghotiphaze – So you’d want to live in a space ship for the rest of your life? Have to say, it would be too claustrophobic for me.

  5. ghotiphaze says:

    Not a space ship, but a colony. Your house and town aren’t too claustrophobic, are they? Ships are to get you where you’re going and hauling your goods, like cars and trucks. I’m sure the same slice of the population will choose or be relegated to living in their vehicles as here, but mostly ships would just be tools.
    Personally, I think an open environment with windows to the universe is preferable to a windowless hole in the ground constrained by the weight of tons of rock overhead. And it’s easier to move a space colony a few miles than a planet colony to the opposite side of the planet if need be.

  6. wordcloud9 says:

    Ah, now I understand – it would be amazing to be able to see all the stars that are obscured here on Earth by the atmosphere and man-made light pollution.

  7. Every rural home and farm seems to have a large sodium vapor light in the yard. Way too many people cannot see much more of the night sky than the moon and a couple of the brighter planets. It’s fun to take an urban dweller for a night visit to the top of one of our six thousand foot mountains, well above the light pollution and most of the haze layer.

    They get to see the Milky Way for the first time in their life. It comes as a shock to many of them. I have seen people develop a case of vertigo from looking into the depths of space.

  8. wordcloud9 says:

    Chuck – I spent my early years in the middle of the Arizona desert – still remember what the sky is like in true darkness – to see it without the atmospheric layers filtering it must be a wonder indeed.

Comments are closed.