Weekly Sponge-date 8 – Welcome to the After-Sponge!

A sponge holds the secret to a better internet connection than we’ve yet experienced. That’s right, despite how far the human race has come in technology, this sponge holds the key to boosting those online streaming speeds. It carries this information within the very fibre of its being.

Once again, this refers to the famous Venus flower-basket (Euplectella). Already famous for harbouring a pair of shrimps (see the very first sponge-date), this sponge clearly loves making the headlines. The glass spicules of this deep-sea sponge are apparently akin to the fibre optics used in telecommunication. Not only are these spicules similar, but they are an improvement! Man-made fibres are weak and vulnerable to cracking, yet these naturally-formed spicules are tougher due to connecting organic ligands. Furthermore, the artificial production of fibre optics involves high temperatures which lose some helpful impurities (such as sodium). As the spicules within the Venus-flower basket are created under ambient temperatures, these impurities remain which enhances the fibres potential. This research is still in the early stages, but this once again demonstrates how much we can learn from deep-sea life!

Figure 7) Venus flower-basket (Euplectella sp.) (Wiki Commons author: NEON_ja)
Venus flower-basket (Euplectella sp.) (Wiki Commons author: NEON_ja)

Read this E journal for more information:  https://aizenberglab.seas.harvard.edu/papers/2003_Nature.pdf