A Fraudulent–If Cool–Facebook Photo. And a Pet Peeve.

A neat photo of an ice sculpture was posted on Facebook in January 2016 with the comment “Frozen spiderweb found in Nantucket, Massachusetts.”

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This brings to mind a pet peeve of mine–drawings of impossible webs.

An “orb web” is the well known spider web comprising a series of non-sticky silken lines forming a rough frame used to attach the web to something (trees, posts, small children, whatever) and other non-sticky lines that radiate from the center of the web to support its prey-catching business part.

Typically, after creating the framework and the radial lines, the resident spider starts at the center of the web and goes ‘round and ‘round in a spiral manner, all the while laying a continuous strand of sticky “capture” silk. The capture silk is carefully attached to each radial line as it’s crossed, thus creating a ”net” for capturing prey on the sticky lines.

Now, not all spiders make webs, much less these orb webs, but still, it’s what most people think of when one says “spider web.”

So what’s my gripe?

Look at this illustration…bad_orb

Now look at this photo of an orb web:

sag_photo

See the problems? In the photo of a real web, the capture lines span the gaps between the radial lines. Some species pull the lines really tight, but others leave a little slack, and when this happens, gravity causes the capture lines to sag…downward.  Everywhere.

Look at that photo again, please. Now look again at the illustration.

Take a good look at drawing of spiral capture lines! Not a chance! How on the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s green earth could the vertical capture lines not only sag uniformly toward the web’s center, but actually sag upwards on the lower half of the web? Plus, of course, the capture lines in the drawing are concentric, not a continuous spiral.

Now do you see the problem with the “frozen web?”

A quick image search found this version of the non-cropped photo, where the giant ice “spider” at the bottom verifies the entire thing’s ice sculpture roots.

ice_sculpture

So please, if you’re going to draw orb webs (or crop a photo to claim it represents a real, frozen web), remember how gravity works on this planet.

(I won’t even get into the fact that there are two entirely different kinds of capture lines on the ice sculpture…look at the 9:00-10:00 position in the top photo–click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Extra points:  What’s up with this photo?

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