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Hairy feet and scuttling cockroaches… oh my!

7 September, 2010 Leave a comment

As an undergraduate at Berkeley, I found myself dumbfounded and awestruck by the awesome adhesive powers of gecko toepads. For months, I poured hour after hour into removing single toe pad hairs (setae), sticking them to a filed down insect pin, and pressing them against a thin filament of silver wire. I had already stuck a dead gecko on a smooth door and seen it dangling by a single toe with a heavy metal stapler tied to its hips, so I knew there was something spectacular about its adhesive powers (Note: no animals were injured or tormented to discover this!). Yet, each time I pressed a seta to the wire, absolutely nothing would happen. It took countless late night hours of pushing setae to wires with (an arguably) stupidly optimistic outlook, until suddenly, the seta began to stick!

Much of this motivation and inspiration for continuing onwards in this quest was in no small part due to a particularly spectacular advisor, Dr. Robert Full. In the hopes of having him also inspire all of you with his big dreams and creativity, I’ve posted one of his TED conference talks below. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

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