'Bullet-proof' skin created

Posted by Kate Taylor

A Dutch artist says she's succeeded in creating a substance based on human skin which can stop a bullet in its tracks.

Jalila Essaidi of the Forensic Genomics Consortium in the Netherlands, used spider silk made from transgenic worms and the milk of transgenic goats, which her team combined with human skin cells.

The resulting material is claimed to be at least 10 times stronger than steel.

It doesn't match up to existing Type 1 bulletproof vests, which are expected to protect the wearer from the maximum weight - 2.6g - and velocity - 329 meters per second - of a .22 calibre Long Rifle bullet.

But at a slightly slowed speed, normal human skin was pierced by the bullet, while the artificial sample wasn't.

DARPA may be rubbing its hands together at the announcement, but Essaidi says that the purpose of the project was artistic, rather than scientific or military.

"By creating this ‘bulletproof’ human skin I want to explore the social, political, ethical and cultural issues surrounding safety. With this work I want to show that safety in its broadest sense is a relative concept, and hence the term bulletproof," she says.

"Even with the ‘bulletproof’-skin being pierced by the faster bullet, the experiment is in my view still a success. The art project is based on and leads to a debate on the question ‘Which forms of safety are socially important? And last but not least the project leads to aesthetically very impressing and fascinating results."

The bullet-proof skin is on display at the Netherlands' National
Museum of Natural History Naturalis until January next year.