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April, 2007:

Niece Name Update: An otter is an otter is an otter.

I’m sad to report, despite our best efforts, the Queen of Paint has gone a different way.
Otter is out.

Our new niece’s name is Phoebe Sofia.

I am sure I will be fine with this. As Shakespeare says,

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.”

At this juncture, I suppose I should speak about my brother Marc, and how he was going to be a Noah all the way up until the moment of his birth, at which point my parents looked at each other and said, “He’s not a Noah” and named him Marc.(with a C, not a K)
And I’m sure he’s relatively happy that he’s not a Noah (with apologies to Noah’s everywhere!)

This is still a story in my family, and perhaps the Otter story will become a new story, a different story.

In Which, our new niece is a Sea Mammal

So, Stephanie’s sister-in-law had a baby a couple of days ago, and she’s doing just fine. Her name is Phoebe. Her middle name yet to be determined, and we are lobbying for Otter!

Why you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you, and it’s the cutest story you’ve ever read on this blog (not that we specialize in cute, mind you, so it’s not that hard to do.)

Mike and Alison, the proud parents (you faithful readers have already met Alison, the all hailed QUEEN OF PAINT), had been stingy about deciding the name. The betting pool before the birth had narrowed down to either Phoebe or Audrey. Benjamin, Phoebe’s two year old brother, and a darned smart kid, was asked on the day of the birth what his new sister’s name should be. With a wisdom far beyond his years, he answered quickly, decisively, and creatively, “Sea Otter.”


And so, our grass-roots candidacy for otter has begun. What better name could there be? And not only that, but they live in California, home of Moon Unit, Dweezil, Kobe, and other names not so typical– Otter would be a perfect complement to this beaming young boy’s creativity and love for his day-old sister.

If you agree, please comment here. We will forward all of your comments to the parents, who will be no doubt heartened by your grassroots swelling of support.

Being Adam Gertsacov

Every once in awhile I google myself to see if I’ve got any publicity about my shows or the flea circus that I don’t know about. So I googled my name and I found a new fan on myspace!

This woman from England found my website, and was tickled by it!

Not only that, but she’s written a second blog about me as well!

She likes me! She really really likes me!


FW: From Boing Boing: Robotic Fleas!

This is from Boing Boing: looks like pretty soon my flea training process will be obsolete!


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Robotic jumping flea

UC Berkeley researchers are designing a millimeter-long robotic flea that uses a tiny rubber band to launches itself into the air. The current prototype is seven millimeters long and tests have shown that it could jump 20 centimeters off the ground. The graduate student who led the research, Sarah Bergbreiter, is part of UC Berkeley’s effort to build Smart Dust, tiny wireless sensors that form ad hoc networks. Several years ago, I wrote an article for Lab Notes about Sarah’s previous work adding legs to Smart Dust to transform the sensors into miniscule mobile robots. This latest approach involves a rubber band two millimeters long and just nine microns thick, one tenth the diameter of a human hair. From Technology Review:

 Files 10638 Jump8 X220Bergbreiter, in collaboration with the Smart Dust Project, created the rubber band by cutting a circular strip measuring… out of a thin sheet of silicone using a very fine infrared laser. It was then hooked onto the robot’s stretching mechanism using nothing more than a pair of ultraprecision tweezers, a stereoscopic microscope, and a steady hand. This was a bit like playing the children’s game Operation, only harder, says Bergbreiter.

To test the robot prototype, Bergbreiter hooked it up so that rather than the bot actually jumping, its leg was positioned to kick an object. This allowed her to calculate the energy being released. So far Bergbreiter has only tried partially stretching the rubber band, which would achieve a jump of about 12 millimeters for the 10-milligram robot. However, she says that based on the results of this test, a full stretch would be capable of producing jumps as high as 200 millimeters, and they would cover roughly twice as much ground horizontally.

Link to Technology Review, Link to David Pescovitz’s article :”Robugs: Smart Dust Has Legs