No. 329: Edison and Zapata meet the Rain Man, and a Stony Brook startup is filling in 3D printing’s blanks 

Excellent driver: Known for his portrayals of antiheroes and vulnerable characters, two-time Academy Award-winner Dustin Hoffman turns 81 today.

Welcome to Wednesday: And the midpoint of another sweltering summer workweek.

It’s Aug. 8, and baby, it’s hot out there. Maybe this will cool you down: There are only 138 shopping days until Christmas.

Put a smile on that face: It’s also Father’s Day in Mongolia and Taiwan and International Cat Day everywhere – and in the United States, Happiness Happens Day (it’s real), which was started in 1999 by the Secret Society of Happy People (also real) to encourage people to admit they’re pleased with the way things are going.

Observe: The cornerstone for Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg Observatory – at the time, the world’s most advanced research institution – was laid on Aug. 8, 1576.

Like a Xerox machine, only way less practical: It was exactly 300 years later, on this date in 1876, when Thomas Edison earned a patent for his “electric pen” – aka the Autographic Printing machine, considered the first electric-motor-driven office appliance produced and sold in the United States.

Cereal number: According to the official story, inventors John and Will Kellogg invented corn flakes cereal inside Michigan’s Battle Creek Sanitarium on Aug. 8, 1894.

“Kellogg’s Toasted Corn Flakes” wouldn’t be trademarked until 1907.

Milestone: It was this date in 1911 when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued its one-millionth patent (since it spun up its modern numbering system in 1836), to inventor Francis Holton and his “tubeless vehicle tire.”

For those keeping score, the USPTO issued its ten-millionth utility patent – to Raytheon scientist Joseph Marron, for “Coherent LADAR Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection” – on June 19.

Bright idea: Signed into law by President George W. Bush on Aug. 8, 2005, the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 – among other provisions – extended Daylight Savings Time, which as of 2007 would begin three weeks earlier (on the second Sunday of March) and end one week later (on the first Sunday of November).

What a difference five years makes: And it was Aug. 8, 2013, when President Barack Obama presented career journalist Ben Bradlee – executive editor of The Washington Post during the controversial publication of the Pentagon Papers and Woodward and Bernstein’s history-shaping coverage of the Watergate scandal – with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Viva Zapata! Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata Salazar, the main man in Mexico’s peasant revolution, would be 139 years old today.

Also marking birthdays this Aug. 8 are English biologist William Bateson (1861-1926), who invented the term “genetics”; Robert “Dr. Bob” Smith (1879-1950), who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous; and Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer (born 1981), who’s captured 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

The post-Graduate: And take a bow, Dustin Hoffman – the American screen legend turns 81 today.

Wish Rain Man and the rest a happy birthday at, where we are happy to receive story tips and calendar items on their behalf.


A few words from our sponsor: Farmingdale State College is New York’s largest public college of applied science and technology and a national pioneer in environmental sustainability. With over 9,600 students, Farmingdale has Long Island’s second-largest undergraduate enrollment among four-year institutions and offers rigorous academic programs in business, engineering technology, health sciences and liberal arts and sciences. Farmingdale also offers a master’s degree in Technology Management. Learn more here.



Romancing the stones: Stony Brook-based biotech Applied DNA Sciences is at it again, this time partnering with an international blockchain ace on the development of an “integrated physical and digital security” program for supply-chain traceability and certification focused on high-end merchandise.

Applied DNA and London-based Everledger – named a 2018 Technology Pioneer at the recent World Economic Forum – have announced a Memorandum of Understanding that will combine the biotech’s DNA-based tagging and tracing protocols with Everledger’s “leadership in tracking provenance,” which has provided asset protection for various industries, particularly those focused on precious stones.

According to a joint statement, the two companies will “collaboratively integrate their respective technology platforms and pursue various market opportunities, including leather,” a market where Applied DNA already has some experience. Applied DNA President and CEO James Hayward said his company is thrilled to buddy up to “the global leader in blockchain applications.”

Good for a laugh: Thinking about a late-summer road trip? You might want to consider rolling up to Chautauqua County, where New York State and a host of corporate partners have cut the ribbon on the National Comedy Center in Jamestown.

Billed as “the first nonprofit cultural institution and visitor experience dedicated to comedy,” the $50 million, state-of-the-art museum officially opened Aug. 1 with a weeklong celebration – more than 50 events altogether – including appearances by Lewis Black, Lily Tomlin, “Saturday Night Live” original cast members Dan Aykroyd and Laraine Newman, Long Island’s own Amy Schumer and many others.

The 37,000-square-foot museum is expected to attract more than 114,000 visitors annually and generate some $23 million per year in local economic activity, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who noted “an economic game-changer for Chautauqua County and the Western New York region.”



And you thought additives were bad: Not when it comes to 3D printing, and a Stony Brook startup is leveraging decades of printing, chemical-science and marketing experience to help additive manufacturing take shape.

Robocrop: Teams of handpicked students from across Long Island showed off their techno-chops – and planted the seeds of future LI workforces – when the MTRC Robotics Camp wrapped up its inaugural session.

Dean on me: The newly named head of Farmingdale State College’s School of Engineering Technology brings decades of engineering-tech and higher-education experience to her new role.

Book mark: Adelphi University has tapped a global distributor of hardcopy and digital entertainment products to freshen things up at its busy campus bookstore.



Writing off one-offs: Forbes explains why ad-hoc innovation – that is, innovation without a systemic plan – can be a business’ “worst enemy.”

Putting the cart before the workforce: Walmart is rolling out a fleet of robotic shopping carts in an effort to speed things up for online shoppers.

Forward thinking: How Big Pharma stalwart Merck used its 350th anniversary to get out in front of future health, nutrition and energy dilemmas.



+ Spruce, a New York City-based national title insurance and escrow company, raised $15.6 million in Series A-1 venture capital funding. Backers included Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network and Collaborative Fund.

+ Akouos, a Boston-based precision genetic medicine company developing gene therapies that restore and preserve hearing, raised $50 million in Series A financing co-led by 5AM Ventures and New Enterprise Associates, with participation from existing investor Partners Innovation Fund and new investors Sofinnova Ventures, RA Capital Management and Novartis Venture Fund.

+ Steady, an Atlanta-based income-building platform for the Build-Your-Own workforce, raised $9 million in Series A financing led by Propel Venture Partners, with participation from Omidyar Network, 25Madison, Clocktower Ventures and Commerce Ventures.

+ Karuna Pharmaceuticals, a Boston-based company focused on targeting muscarinic receptors for the treatment of disorders marked by psychosis and cognitive impairment, completed a $42 million Series A financing round. Participants included ARCH Venture Partners, the Wellcome Trust, Steven Paul M.D., PureTech Health and other undisclosed investors.

+ WeeCare, a Los Angeles-based an access platform for early-childhood caregivers to start and manage curriculum-based home daycare centers, raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by Social Capital, with participation from Fuel Ventures Previous, Fika Ventures, Amplify Partners and Wavemaker Partners.



Blow hard: With Long Island jockeying for a lead slot in the emerging offshore wind market, here’s to American Wind Week.

We’ll stick with the harmful bacteria, thanks: But a new study shows that consuming crickets (and other “edible insects”) can do wonders for your gut.

Speaking of strange buggy things: Do spiders have a favorite color? Now we know.

Free news? Like Bigfoot, bipartisan government and other fantastic fables, it may be a myth, it may be real. We’ll keep investigating. Meanwhile, you keep supporting the great institutions that support Innovate LI, like Farmingdale State College, where that Technology Management master’s degree is only the tip of the innovation iceberg.