Spiderman
Spiderman's web could stop a train crash (Wiki Commons)

Spider-man's web could stop a train travelling at full speed, scientists at the University of Leicester have found.

Physics students examined the strength and toughness of spiders' web to work out if the scenario of Spiderman 2 - where Peter Parker's alter ego stops a train moments before it plummets over the end of the track - could be real.

They calculated the material properties of the webbing needed to stop a train in these conditions and found that the strength of a real spider's web in human-sized proportions could stop the train.

James Forster, Mark Bryan and Alex Stone calculated the force needed to stop the R160 New York City subway cars by using looking momentum of the train at full speed, the time the train comes to stop after the webbing is attached and the driving force behind the train.

Stone, 21, said: "It is often quoted that spider-webs are stronger than steel, so we thought it would be interesting to see whether this held true for Spider-man's scaled-up version.

"Considering the subject matter we were surprised to find out that the webbing was portrayed accurately."

The researchers found that force Spiderman's webs exert on the train was 300,000 newtons, meaning they could then calculate the strength and toughness of the webs.

Spider-man 2 not unrealistic

The stiffness of the web was 3.12 gigapascals - a reasonable measurement for a spiders web, which ranges from 1.5 to 12 gigapascals.

The toughness was almost 500 megajouls per cubic metre, which is in line with a Darwin's bark spider web, which has the strongest known webbing of any spider.

Findings showed that the action sequence in Spider-man 2 was not unrealistic and would be feasible if the friendly neighbourhood superhero were real.

James Forster, 22, from Wisbech, said: "While our work may not seem to be very serious it has helped teach us about applying physics to varying situations as well as the peer review process through which scientific journals operate. This makes it an invaluable experience to anyone who wants to go into research later in life."

Spider-man first appeared in a comic book published by Marvel in the 1960s. The story was made into a film starring Toby Maguire, James Franco and Kirstin Dunst in 2002, with the second instalment, featuring the train scene, released two years later.