Browse content similar to Episode 10. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Animals are amazing.
And the more we find out about them, the more amazing they seem.
That's why scientists all over the world
are trying their best to copy them.
'Making brand-new inventions...' Tomato juice.
..based on what animals can do.
'Some are astounding.' We have just dived under the sea!
This is not at all pleasant.
Yes! It's gone!
But they are all inspired by the miracles of nature.
How scientists have found the next best thing to a spider's web...
under the sea.
Spider silk is an amazing material.
It is so light, that a strand long enough to circle the planet
would weigh less than 1kg.
but it is strong enough to stop a fly...
in full flight.
It is a remarkable material.
One we have been trying to copy for the best part of 50 years.
Because a material this light and this strong would be really useful.
But we have still not managed it
and real silk is just too tricky to collect.
But now, scientists have found another natural substance
that might just be able to rival spider silk.
The real surprise is where they have found it.
Somewhere out here.
Eddie, I'd be no good at this, I can't see it.
Well, it's around here somewhere.
'Luckily, I've got marine biologist Eddie Kisfaludy along to help.
'Once we can get past the language barrier.'
-You call them "boo-ees."
-They are boo-ees.
-It's a buoy.
-No, "boys" is like a little kid.
-No, it's not a boo-ee.
-This is a boo-ee.
These are several boo-ees, in fact.
-Ah, there it is. Good work.
-You see? I got it!
Ah-ha! I got it, I got it, I got it!
'Now, if you are remotely squeamish, you might want to look away.
'Because what's at the bottom of this rope
'isn't immediately appealing.'
So these are them!
Not pretty, are they?
No, they're disgustingly ugly, to be quite honest.
These are hagfish.
Not really fish, they're more like eels.
-They don't have any scales or fins.
They don't have any eyes to speak of,
so they have to make a living
by feeling and smelling their way around on the deep sea.
It's almost like a snake that crawls around on the sea floor.
'I don't know, it's probably just the rocking,
'but I am suddenly feeling just a little bit queasy.
'Mainly because I know what's going to happen
'when we get them back to shore.'
Now, the thing is,
it's actually quite easy to persuade a spider to make silk for you.
I've done it, in fact.
But you would not believe the bother we're going to have to go to
to get hagfish to do something similar.
First of all, we have to fill that purpose-built tank
with 400 gallons of water.
Then we add to it the 150 hagfish that Eddie and I caught.
Then we need something with them to stir them,
something in the tank to stir them up and provoke a stir. It's...
I am the stirrer.
with the hagfish.
I just...is this really necessary?
Unfortunately, Eddie assures me that it is.
And he's wasting no time in getting our experiment ready.
This might look like a very big tank for 150 small fish.
But apparently, what they're going to do requires quite a bit of room.
'Eddie's idea is that I play the part of a big, aggressive predator.
'And the hagfish are my frightened prey.'
'But I have a feeling that the hagfish are not the only ones
'who are going to be frightened.'
'Especially when I see how Eddie intends getting me in there.'
You know how people have those bucket lists
of things you should do before you die?
This was never on mine.
'Now, if you thought the hagfish's looks were bad,
'just wait till you see what their party trick is.'
'Because hagfish have the power to slime.
'Big time.' That's disgusting!
I'm not hurting any of these fish.
I am just alarming them.
This is their natural, in-built response.
You see, he thinks I'm a predator after him,
so rather than bite or swim away, he just sends out a tonne of slime.
'The point of it is that that slime would instantly clog up
'the mouth of any fish coming in for a nibble.'
I mean, they don't bite.
Well, I don't think they bite.
I've just persuaded one of these guys to come and say hello,
and actually... if you look, you can see...
along the side, these tiny, white holes,
they look a bit like mouth ulcers, actually.
And that's where it makes the slime to protect itself.
'And you can see now why we needed such a big tank.'
Apparently, just one of these fish can make enough slime
to fill a bucket of water in seconds.
So they produce a lot of this stuff.
Just to make sure they don't get eaten by something else.
I mean, it would put me off, to be fair.
I'm not hungry.
This is a lot of slime in here, now.
Now, this might look pretty disgusting,
and to be fair, in fact, it is,
but there's a good reason why we're doing this,
not just to have a laugh at my expense,
cos it's about the slime,
and it's about what the slime is actually capable of.
It's probably time I got out now.
Let's get me out of here.
Oh, this is...not at all...
It's not nice.
However, this stuff, disgusting as it is,
is quite fascinating.
'I know it doesn't look much like spider silk,
'or feel like it...'
'But that's because I haven't finished with it yet.
'To turn this into something that can compete with spider silk,
'I need to put it on my special hagfish slime hanger.'
And now, I think, a shower.
'Leaving my hagfish slime to dry out overnight.'
Now, this might not look like it,
but this in fact is the hagfish slime that I harvested yesterday.
Overnight, the sea water has drained away and evaporated,
and it's dried.
So I think a scientific test is called for right here, right now.
'With some fishing weights from Eddie's boat.'
There's a 5oz one.
I'm hanging it on.
'That's about 150g.'
OK, that's pretty good.
Right, I'm going to go for a heavier weight. Let's see.
OK, so now we're on...
40. '1,100g. More than a bag of flour.'
'And we're up near spider silk territory.'
55 ounces, and I've run out of weights.
OK, it's not the most scientifically rigorous of tests,
and it may be a while yet
before you pull on your brand-new hagfish sweater,
but the fact is,
this could be really useful.
Because one day hagfish slime could be used to make
everything we once wanted to make spider silk.
Finding a kind of spider silk under the sea.
If that's not one of the miracles of nature, I'd like to know what is.