No. 172: Björk, dumb roofs and goodbye to the Piltdown Man

Monday, Monday: A great short week to everyone and welcome new readers Beth, Laura and Neil. Like many of you, the Innovate staff will be stretching Thursday’s celebration into the weekend, so no Friday newsletter. Have a great holiday.

Today is Nov. 21: On which we remember the Piltdown Man, heralded as the 500,000-year-old “missing link” between apes and humans. Discovered in 1912 by a British lawyer and amateur paleontologist named Charles Dawson, the fossilized remains featured a skull with both human and simian qualities, including teeth that appeared to be a mix of both.

With good reason: The skull was a fake the fame-hungry Dawson had pieced together using parts from an orangutan and as many as three humans, many of the bones dyed with iron and acid to look older. None were more than 720 years old. Some of the teeth had been filed down and were actually held in place with dental putty, had anyone looked closely.

No matter. London’s Geological Society clung to the idea that modern man had been British. And it took four decades and improved carbon dating methods before scientists finally declared – on this day in 1953 – that the Piltdown Man was a hoax “so entirely unscrupulous and inexplicable as to find no parallel in the history of paleontological discovery.”

The moral, still worth repeating: Be careful when you see exactly what you expect to see.

That, of course, goes way beyond science.

Happy birthday: Björk and Voltaire. And Goldie Hawn. And Anya Kominicki.

Coming up fives: A week after it closed on a $5 million investment, Applied DNA is doing big business with the Pentagon.

Making rounds: Big doings for the back and spine at Northwell Health.

Absolutely going to: LISTnet’s Long Island Tech Showcase featuring ParqMi, MindYolk and eVero, Dec. 8, first pitch at 6 p.m. at the Digital Ballpark in Plainview. Free but register, please.

And: Long Island Capital Alliance’s quarterly pitch, this one for health care companies, Dec. 9, 8 to 11 a.m., RXR’s 68 S. Service Road in Melville. $65 for interlopers. Register here.

From our sponsor: Sahn Ward Coschignano is one of the region’s fastest growing law firms. Our attorneys are thought leaders, dedicated to achieving success through excellence. With our broad experience in land use, development, real estate and environmental law, we have the vision to serve our clients and our communities. Please visit

Thanksgiving thought redux: Buy a stylish bag, help feed the world’s school kids.

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Good news, Buffalo: Financier James Chanos called it “absurd” and “ridiculous” right up to the last vote was tallied, but in the end, shareholders decided they liked a SolarCity-Tesla merger.

Related: Tesla founder Elon Musk says his smart roofing tiles will be cheaper than the dumb ones. (“Electricity is just a bonus.”)

Just West: NYC’s 15 hottest startups.

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Passings: American City Business Journals has shuttered its entrepreneur-focused Upstart product. “Online-only media properties that rely on advertising to function, as Upstart did, have a challenging road to navigate.”

Easy to swallow: The EllieGrid smart pill box monitors your meds and supplements and sends alerts to you – and, if you want, loved ones – when dosages are missed. $99 gets you in on the Indiegogo campaign.

Finally: Pie. In this crust. Mmm.

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Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.