Kevlar’s long run as the material of choice for bulletproof vests worn by combat troops, law-enforcement agents, and well-funded do-badders could be coming to an end.
Bridging the divide between science and science fiction, Dutch scientists have created bulletproof human skin made from spider-silk-infused goat’s milk, reports The Daily Mail.
Jalila Essaidi and her team at the Forensic Genomics Consortium in the Netherlands combined U.S.-made spider silk—harvested from the milk of goats injected with spider-silk protein—and human skin cells to create a new material that is ten times stronger than steel.
While the skin of tomorrow was able to deflect a bullet fired at reduced speeds, it fell short of thwarting a shot fired from a .22 caliber rifle at normal speeds—the yardstick for protection for a Type 1 bulletproof vest.
Essaidi said that she was not deterred by the super-dermis’ false first step.
“Why bother with a vest: imagine replacing keratin, the protein responsible for the toughness of the human skin, with this spider-silk protein,” she said to The Daily Mail. “This is possible by adding the silk-producing genes of a spider to the gnome of a human: creating a bulletproof human.”
As with any WTF?!?!!? discovery that shoves your mind into the shadowy corridors of limitless possibility, we’ve got a few questions about the skin's real-world implications—assuming, of course, that it is only a matter of time before the technology reaches the mass market.
—Can you exfoliate bulletproof skin?
—Does bulletproof skin wrinkle?
—How does the application work? Would you need to be born with the bulletproof gene? Or can the new mighty skin be grafted onto the normal, wimpy skin of an adult?
—Are there unintended but totally rad side effects? Like now that you've got spider-silk running through your genes can you crawl on the walls and make out with Kirsten Dunst while hanging upside down from a skyscraper?
—Can you bite through bulletproof skin? If not, werewolves, vampires, 1997 Mike Tyson, and people with kinky fetishes might need to hit up the classifieds for a new job or weekend hobby.
—Can a surgeon’s scalpel cut through bulletproof skin?
—Will dermatologists now go the way of the dodo bird, The Hummer, The Walkman, and Conan on NBC?
—Can you pinch bulletproof skin?
—Can you pierce bulletproof skin? If not, say sayonara to earrings, ear screws, toe rings, belly button rings, nose rings, and whatever it is you call what this guy did to his tongue. In a related story, the stock for clip-on jewelry has just skyrocketed.
—Can bulletproof skin get a skin burn?
Can you think of other as-yet unanswered questions about the skin your grandchildren might be wearing that we might be missing?
If so, let us know in the comments.