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Mon, April 1, 2013
Song of the Spider's Web
It is cliché that mathematics is the language of science; recent discoveries reveal that in a related and perhaps even more fundamental way, music may truly be the language of nature.

Just as my dog whines and tries to stop me when I play discordant music on my piano - new findings show that we may be biologically "hardwired" in our response to aesthetically pleasing or displeasing music. Evidence suggests that music may be encoded in the smallest protein molecules comprising living things.

Recent experiments from MIT report efforts to represent manmade silk fibers as musical compositions - using the underlying proteins in the synthetic silk as "notes".  The researchers found remarkable similarities between the physical properties of the silk and the aesthetic sound and feel of its associated music. In other words silk with good physical properties produced pleasing music!

Sound Healing investigators and certain students of antiquity have believed for some time that sound in general, and music in particular, hold great potential for revealing deeper understanding of the universe around us. Furthermore, the informed application of precise energy - in the form of sound frequencies - can benefit us on many levels: emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.  

The MIT research team attacked their work (to synthesize silk fibers in the lab) with the novel approach of replicating building-block protein molecules. The large multidisciplinary team, including engineers, biomedical experts, mathematicians and musical composers, formulated synthetic silk in a systematic manner - as a model for future synthetic material design work. They began by building a computer model of natural silk and then identified the underlying bio-materials responsible for the unique light weight, subtleness and extraordinary strength of spider silk.

These researchers modified silk producing genes and created a device to copy the spider's silk spinning organ.  After extensive work, they produced a variety of synthetic silk strands. Two of the experimental "silks" stood out. One of the new protein combinations yielded extremely strong silk molecules - but the catch was these proteins did not adhere to each other as a thread, which was of course useless.

The second material contained weaker protein molecules that adhered together strongly and made an excellent thread, as natural silk proteins do and was a success. It was not enough to produce strong proteins alone - they must interconnect properly and form a coherent strand on a large scale; there must be a cohesive architecture properly aligning and connecting the components (like a musical composition).

After these initial results, the team went back to the lab to produce new silk materials. One of the new analytical tools that they employed in the development of superior silk was music! Greatly simplifying the details... the various levels of the silk's structure (the proteins, their relationships, and underlying structures) were translated into musical compositions. The end result: the strong silk proteins that would not form usable threads produced music that was harsh and displeasing.

The proteins that formed usable fibers played as soft, fluid, pleasing music. The fact that the above process (based on the silk proteins) resulted in anything even remotely resembling music is remarkable; the fact that pleasing music was produced from "good" silk and harsh music resulted from "bad" silk is near miraculous.

One of the researchers, Markus Buehler of MIT said, "There might be an underlying structural expression in music that tells us more about the proteins that make up our bodies. After all, our organs - including the brain - are made from these building blocks, and humans' expression of music may inadvertently include more information than we are aware of." Music may soon tell us much more about our biology and reveal new insight into our humanity. Expanding on this, the processes that produced the biology, DNA and building-block proteins may be encoded in a universal song.

Sound and music - could these be far more than we have thought them to be? Ancient civilizations considered music a mystical force and carefully guarded its secrets. Modern experts believe sound energy can interact with and alter our subtle energies - opening up vast opportunities for healing and growth.

The human voice contains voluminous information on the underlying state and wellness of the body.  Musical compositions are grand "stories" employing numerous instruments, notes, pitches, rhythms, octaves and so on - producing a holistic effect beyond the sum of the parts. As my dog knows very well - what sounds right, feels right. Music could be the universal language of nature - and deeper - mirror the grand plan that makes us and our surrounding world what we are.


MIT reference: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2012, November 28). Researchers synthesize new kind of silk fiber, and use music to fine-tune material's properties. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 11, 2013, from

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