It was just over a dozen years ago than a Dutch artist – whose medium is living, organic materials – read about a researcher who bred transgenic goats whose milk contained spider silk that could be harvested in large quantities. The objective was to create enough of the stuff to build better body armor.
“I thought, why bother with bulletproof vest, why not create a bulletproof human instead?" Jalila Essaïdi of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, told the Reuters news service in a recent interview.
What to Essaïdi began as an art project soon became “2.6g 329m/s” – a project name drawn from the maximum weight and velocity of a .22 caliber long rifle round that Type 1 body armor should be able to stop. Today, on the homepage of her website, you can see some of the results – including a video of a .22 round fired at a reduced speed that was stopped by the skin.
The targets in the test firings were made up of just four layers of the spider silk-human skin blend, cell biologist Abdoelwaheb El Ghalbzouri of the Leiden University Medical Center told Reuters. A Kevlar vest, he says, is made up of 33 layers of material.
“We believe that if we generate a skin model with 33 layers, I think we can definitely hold a bullet,” he said.