|The one claim no one can make about marijuana is that you can die as a direct result of consuming it. Interestingly enough, marijuana is so "safe" in that regard, that your morning cup of coffee is apparently more poisonous than a wake and bake.|
Image Source: Nasa Tech Briefs, Using Spider-Web Patterns To Determine Toxicity, Apr 1995, p.82
|Effects of Amphetamines, Barbiturates, & Hallucinogens on Spider Web Construction|
[W]hen Dr. Peter N. Witt, director of research for North Carolina's
Department of Mental Health, set out to learn more about the
effects of drugs on human behavior, he settled on a most unlikely
lab animal: Araneus diadematus, a common species of the orb spider,
whose intricately symmetrical webs glisten with morning dew in
fields and gardens.
Amphetamines are stimulants; they cause humans to become hyperactive, hallucinatory and disoriented. "A similar things happens to spiders," Witt said. "On amphetamines, they make all the proper assessments in building the web -- but then fail to make the correct actions. They see where the last strand was placed and they know where the next one should go, but then they weave it in the wrong place."
Amphetamine webs tend to have highly irregular structures, while those woven under the influence of tranquilizers are usually regular in pattern but considerably smaller than normal. The wackiest webs were those spun by spiders stoned on high doses of barbiturates, or "downers." These webs tended to be both smaller and more widely erratic than the other two types.
Mescaline, derived from a cactus, causes spiders to build small, irregular webs: this suggests to Witt that it is primarily the animals' muscular coordination that is impaired. Psilocybin, extracted from a mushroom, leads them to weave webs that are normal in design but extremely small in size; the animals seem to lose interest in the process and quit early. Witt concludes that psilocybin affects not so much the muscles as the brain.
|How Spider Webs Act as an Indicator of Toxicity|
A method of determining the toxicities of chemicals involves recording and analysis of spider-web patterns. The method is based on the observation that spiders exposed to various chemicals spin webs that differ, in various ways, from their normal web (see figure). Spider-web toxicity testing has potential as an alternative to toxicity testing on higher animals, which is expensive, time consuming and becoming increasingly restricted by law.
The changes in webs reflect the degree of toxicity of a substance. The more toxic the chemical, the more deformed a web looks in comparison with a normal web. In as much as the shape of a spider web resembles that of a crystal lattice in some respects, techniques of statistical crystallography are applied to obtain several quantitative measures of toxicity as manifested in the differences between photographs of webs spun under toxic and normal conditions.
Marshall Space Flight Center
Source: NASA Tech Briefs, Using Spider-Web Patterns To Determine Toxicity, Apr 1995, p.82
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