No. 289: Einstein raps, inventors unite, LIJ expands and why flying taxis are closer than you thought

So hot: From bath salts and wildflowers to herbs and pastel-colored crystals, a long, hot bath is the ultimate off-switch -- and a lucrative marketing opportunity.

Slice of life: Welcome to March 14, dear readers, not quite the Ides of March (that’s tomorrow) but still a significant anniversary for mathematicians.

The 426th, to be precise, of Ultimate Pi Day, which at precisely 6:53 a.m. on this date in 1592 marked the longest correspondence between the date and the opening digits of the infinite mathematical constant pi (3.141592653…) since the introduction of the Julian calendar.

From cotton to Led: American inventor Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin on this date in 1794. German inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin patented the “navigable balloon” on this date in 1889.

And: The FBI instituted its “10 Most Wanted Fugitives” program on this date in 1950.

You go, girl: Happy anniversary also to pioneering engineer Elsie Eaves, who became the first U.S. woman elected as an associate member of the American Society of Civil Engineers on this date in 1927.

Theory of everything: Few names are more synonymous with “science” than Albert Einstein (1879-1944), the German-born theoretical scientist and longtime Princeton, NJ resident who turns 139 today.

(For the record, while the theory of relativity is a pillar of modern physics and all, we maintain the Nobel Prize winner peaked during this Epic Rap Battle with modern-day physicist Stephen Hawking.)

Many more: Astronaut Frank Borman (born 1928, still flying), actor Michel Caine (born 1933, still charming), musician/producer Quincy Jones (also born 1933, still composing) and NBA sharpshooter Stephen Curry (born 1988, still gunning) all celebrate birthdays today.

Screen test: So, who logged the better Einstein portrayal – Walter Matthau in “IQ” or Yahoo Serious in “Young Einstein?” Cast your vote at, where we’re also happy to receive story tips, calendar items and even factual corrections, such as…

Scouts honor: A quick correction courtesy of reader Tina Petruska, a training specialist at the Girls Scouts of Suffolk County’s Camp Edey in Bayport.

Monday’s calendar newsletter incorrectly stated that Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides in 1912, and that the organization would later become the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Actually, Lord Robert Baden-Powell and his sister, Agnes Baden-Powell, founded the Girl Guides in 1910. Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, and in 1920 teamed up with the Baden-Powells to launch the World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts. Thank you, Tina!



Heart of the matter: It’s not always easy to choose to undergo a dangerous – even potentially life-saving – surgical procedure. That emotional conundrum is at the heart of Northwell Health’s latest Health Story podcast, in which patient Glenn Riske discusses his life-or-death decision: undergo an aortic root aneurysm repair, or certainly die.

It was only a matter of time, according to Alan Hartman, Northwell Health’s senior vice president and executive director of cardiothoracic services, who notes in the “Hearts Restored” episode that “once aneurysms begin to enlarge, they don’t stop. Ultimately, they’ll rupture.”

But the elective surgery would be Riske’s fourth – and after years of dealing with his health issues, the Patchogue resident decided he’d “been through enough.” His emotional decision is explored in the ninth installment of the Health Story series, which debuted in 2017 to peek behind the curtain of New York’s largest healthcare system.

Hear ye, hear ye: Innovate Long Island is super-proud to reveal the second batch of winners in our annual Innovator of the Year awards program, coming April 24 to the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

Dedicated to the memory of founder and publisher John Kominicki, a big fan of Long Island’s brilliant researchers and risk-taking entrepreneurs, our program will honor the career of 2018 Master of Innovation Michael Faltischek and more than 30 of this region’s best and brightest innovators, including:

Innovation Support System

+ Bridgeworks, Graham Beck

+ Composite Prototyping Center, Leonard Poveromo

+ LaunchPad Huntington, Phil Rugile

+ LISTnet/Digital Ballpark, Peter Goldsmith and Paul Trapani

+ Workforce Development Institute, Rosalie Drago

We look forward to seeing you April 24 at our annual celebration of ingenuity and economic development. Registration, sponsorship opportunities and more information all just a click away.


About our sponsor: SUNY Old Westbury is a selective public liberal arts college serving more than 4,300 students from Long Island, New York City and around the world. With graduate programs in business, education, mental health counseling and more, Old Westbury offers cutting-edge instruction and convenient scheduling, all at the affordable rate of SUNY tuition. Own your future.



Impeachment, at any price: Whether or not the president is ultimately ousted, Holbrook’s Precise Marketing Solutions figures to clean up on its online auction for the premium domain name “”

United front: In combining his Nassau and Suffolk inventors clubs (with the help of the Farmingdale SBDC), innovator Brian Fried hopes to expose more tinkerers to Long Island’s vast entrepreneurial resources.

Nerves of steel: Despite the global outcry, President Trump is pushing forward his controversial tax on steel and aluminum imports – and making a big mistake, according to a top Adelphi University business professor.

Emergency procedure: Long Island Jewish Medical Center at Valley Stream has announced an 18-month, $22 million expansion and renovation of its Emergency Department, including new beds and state-of-the-art imaging tech.



Moisture farm: In “Star Wars,” desert-dwellers survive with the help of “moisture vaporators,” which suck water out of the air. In this galaxy, Arizona innovator Zero Mass Energy does it with cutting-edge “hydropanels.”

How to create creativity: From Forbes, the best ways to keep those creative juices flowing and cultivate innovation in your business.

Whips and Blockchains: From Newsday, why late-night host John Oliver lashed “particularly dumb” Long Blockchain, the Farmingville firm formerly known as Long Island Iced Tea Corp.

Wings, prayers: Flying taxis are closer than you think, with Kitty Hawk – an ambitious startup launched by self-driving-car trailblazer Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google cofounder Larry Page – testing its VTOL vehicle in New Zealand.



+ Eight, a New York City-based provider of sleep-enhancement products, raised $14 million in Series B financing led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Y Combinator and Yunqi Partners.

+ Radiology Partners, a California-based, physician-led and physician-owned radiology practice, closed a $234 million growth-equity funding round led by existing investors New Enterprise Associates and the Future Fund.

+ Blast, a California-based gamification company that turns games into micro-savings tools, raised $5 million in seed funding through investors including the Forbes and Roth families, Core Innovation Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Snowmass Private Equity, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and others.

+ Justworks, a NYC-based HR technology platform, raised $40 million in Series D funding led by FirstMark Capital, with participation from existing investors Index Ventures, Thrive Capital, Bain Capital and Redpoint Ventures.

+ Voci Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based provider of enterprise speech-to-text transcription and analytics, closed its $8 million Series B funding round led by Grotech Ventures and Harbert Growth Partners.

+ Unearth, a Seattle-based provider of construction software, raised $3 million in funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Vulcan Capital.

+ Metactive Medical, a Kansas-based medical device company developing innovative products for the treatment of neurovascular, peripheral vascular and structural heart diseases, closed on an additional $1.2 million in Series A financing. Backers included Mid-America Angels and Serra Ventures.

+ Ponddy Education, a California-based personalized language learning company, secured $6 million in Series A  funding led by the Chenco Holding Company, with participation from Osnaburge Ventures and MIC Ponddy AR Fund.

+ Degreed, a San Francisco-based career-long learning platform, raised $42 million in Series C funding co-led by Owl Ventures and Jump Capital with participation from Founders Circle Capital and existing investors GSV Acceleration Fund and Signal Peak Ventures.

+ Simple-Fill, an Ohio-based provider of innovative technology that efficiently compresses natural gas, secured approximately $1.7 million in funding led by  Worthington Industries, with participation from Rev1 Ventures, Ohio State University’s Carmen Innovations Fund and several angel investors.

+ NewsGuard, a NYC-based startup designed to tackle the problem of fake news, raised $6 million in funding led by Publicis Groupe.



Drink up: Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol and caffeine is a common factor among Americans ages 90 and up, according to a new long-term study.

Sun up: Boasting 9,800 solar panels and pumping out some 2.7 megawatts, New York State’s largest community solar project has been completed in Sullivan County.

Soak up: As a long, hot bath becomes the go-to self-care symbol for the stressed American woman, industry forces are looking to cash in.

Give up: Citing national security, President Trump has officially blocked Singapore-based Broadcom’s attempted hostile takeover of San Diego chipmaker Qualcomm.

Time’s up: That’s all for today, folks, but remember that even “free news” ain’t free – so please support the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI, including SUNY Old Westbury. It’s one of only four New York colleges offering a master’s degree in forensic accounting, among other innovations.