In case you thought scientists had lost their flair for being mad, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence is spraying Ebola and the plague bacterium onto spider webs.
However, this isn’t some new madcap evil weapon. The experiment is being conducted to see how long these agents of disease can survive in the environment in the event of bioterrorism or an industrial accident.
The scientists first collect the spider’s silk on frames, which you can see in the video below. The frames are then placed into a container where they’re coated with an aerosol containing infectious microbes.
Dr Steve Lever, leading the work at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, said in a statement: “By increasing our basic understanding of the survival characteristics of threat agents, we can help determine the best response to any biological release – whether accidental or intentional.”
Over 11,000 people died in the West African outbreak of Ebola from 2013 to 2015. Although some data suggests that the virus can live for several days in bodily fluid, we know remarkably little about how long the virus can survive in the environment.