That’s right, my inspiration from being bitten by spiders last week would have to be mutation! Mutation in science fiction is a really broad topic though so I’ll start with the science of Spider-man.
The premise of spider-man begins with the possibility that a radiologically mutated spider, or in the case of the movie a genetically modified spider, could bite a human and transfer its genes or strengths to the person. Spider venom, the only thing that does get passed through a bite, by definition consists of neuro-toxins that affect a person’s nervous system. The nervous system is something like the pathways from the brain to the rest of the body, and affects our ability to walk talk and coordinate muscles for specific tasks. Spider venom overloads the system and shuts down vital functions. Although potentially harmful, spider venom does not include any substance that could transfer genetic material, and even then there is no real reason for that material to be assimilated into the human body. However, gene splicing may be the answer. Gene splicing is the use of restricter enzymes to cut a specific part of a gene off, allowing a separate sequence to be attached. In the minuscule chance that the genetically modified spiders had such an enzyme in its venom, as well as parts of its own DNA that would adhere to that segment, in theory this could lead to Peter Parker’s change of attributes. Only one attribute can be changed in this way though, and since the body is continuously synthesizing new cells that have the old gene structure there really is no reason for Peter Parker to maintain or even gain anything from the bite in such an unlikely scenario, unless all his cells were affected in the exact same way which is impossible! Its too bad really, since I was really holding out some hope that being bitten would cause something other than a horrible allergic reaction. My fingers have been feeling a little sticky lately…Maybe I’ll go rock climbing!
Ok, so that part is pure fantasy. Next we’ll take a look at his individual powers. Super strength: he is capable of lifting 150 times his own body weight, much like a spider. Or an ant for that matter. In reality, such a feat would be impossible for a mammal the size of a person. The reason that small animals can lift a greater amount relative to their own weight has nothing to do with the animals being strong. The muscles of an ant or spider are the same strength (per amount of muscle) as a human’s.
The reason these animals seem to be very strong for their size is due to simple scaling laws. Let’s say we have a 6-foot tall, 200-pound human that can lift their own weight in some certain exercise routine. So, we can define their strength as the amount of weight they can lift, divided by their own weight. In this case, it’s 200/200 = 1. So, they have a strength coefficient of 1.
If you scaled down that human to 1/100 of their height, and adjusted their length and width in the same way (to preserve their shape), you would have a human that was 0.06 feet tall.
Now, the human’s weight goes as the CUBE of their height, so they would weigh (1/100)^3 times as much as they did before. If they weighed 200 pounds before, they would now weigh 0.0002 pounds.
However, their muscle strength goes as the cross-sectional area of their muscle, and area goes as the SQUARE of their height. So, they can now lift (1/100)^2 times as much weight as they could before. If they could lift 200 pounds before, they would be able to lift 0.02 pounds now. Ok i’ll be honest, I was lazy and got this off a science site. Its true though and reflects the gist of my argument.
Now, lets look at his ability to climb smooth surfaces. Spiders posses tiny hairs on he base of their legs. These hairs adhere to surfaces through the use of Van der Waals forces- tiny electro-static forces created in tiny spaces due to the movement of electrons in that space. Similarly, spider man could use tiny hairs on his palms and legs to climb. The hairs are so tiny that they do not necessarily need to appear visible.