No. 39: Purple popsicles, a Carl Jr’s beach day and SUNY’s laser diet machine

The Sunshine Laundromat in Greenpoint has an awesome collection of vintage pinball machines. What better way to celebrate Obscura Day?

IT’S WEDNESDAY ALREADY: Today marks the 1930 invention of cellophane tape by 3M’s Richard Drew, who came up with masking tape as well. It’s also National Grape Popsicle Day, a cause for considerably less celebration.

BIO RISING: Two bills expected to advance through Senate committees this week would expand the state’s use of biofuels. A bill sponsored by Democratic senator Brad Hoylman would require a 2 percent blend of biofuel in all home heating oil used in the state. A separate bill sponsored by Republican senator Cathy Young would expand tax credits for biofuel. Biofuels can be made from used restaurant grease, but also soy beans or vegetables. They are typically blended with diesel, according to Cap NY’s Scott Waldman.

SUNY INVENTIVENESS: Body temperature regulation accounts for two-thirds of calorie burn, so staying warm should help shed weight, right? That’s the thinking behind the low-powered laser space heater being developed by Binghamton U’s Kenneth McCloud, which will raise your core temp to 100 degrees, creating prime fat burn. The “passive” diet machine is being funded by the SUNY Research Foundation.

Also: Douglas Conklin has received a $50K grant from the SUNY RF technology fund to pursue research into human tyrosine kinases, which serve as a sort of on/off switch for cellular functions. Turning off one, known as Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase, kills breast cancer cells. Huge potential here.

Plus: Stony Brook anesthesiology professor Thomas Floyd has landed $50K for continued development of a disposable fiber optic probe that measures fluctuations in spinal cord blood flow during surgery, helping prevent paralysis and loss of motor function. Floyd’s probe has been successfully used in animal trials; human testing is a year or two away.

Meanwhile: University at Buffalo researchers have received funding to commercialize a device that measures conductivity and other physical properties down to a single atom in size. That’s important if the world is going to keep up with Moore’s Law, which stipulates that the number of transistors built into an integrated circuit doubles every two years. UatB prof Jason Armstrong expects the device to bring in $30M in the next five years, initially from fellow nano-researchers.

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A SQUEAKER: Start-Up NY won narrow support from voters in a Siena College poll released Tuesday, with 52 percent of respondents saying they favor the program. Interestingly, the tax breaks resonated the strongest geographically with NYC and its suburbs. Only 45 percent of upstate residents said they supported the benefits, which were initially intended only for Western New York. Innovate LI

SMALL THINKING: The trouble with nanoparticles is they’re often too tiny to work with. So Brookhaven National Lab scientists are training them to self-assemble into all sorts of interesting things, including future energy sources. Researcher Oleg Gang puts it in layman’s terms.

BALANCING GEO DIFFERENCES: Congressman Lee Zeldin on the economics of politics. And vice versa. Bottom line, he says: “Albany can always do more for Long Island.” The weekly Debrief

CREATIVE RIGHTING: Local educators and technology execs are increasingly worried about the creative thinking process and whether the nation’s new fascination with STEM is endangering the creative part of it. More on mixing the three Rs with the four Cs.

On the other hand: STEM degrees are growing on Forbes’ just-out list of the most powerful women in the world. There are five medical doctors, including Polish President Ewa Kopacz, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Margaret Chan of the WHO. Plus Dupont CEO Ellen Kullman (mechanical engineering), Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi (computer science) and Judith Faulkner (mathematics). Oh, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, No. 1 on the list, has a Ph.D. in chemistry. Forbes

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HOT EVENT: Saturday is Obscura Day, featuring more than 150 celebrations of the obscure in 25 countries. On Long Island, join Wildman Steve Brill for an edible walking tour of Belmont Lake State Park. (But temper your expectations: Organizers suggest you bring a lunch.) Or, check out the incredible collection of vintage pinball machines at Sunshine Laundromat in Greenpoint.

HOT CHARITY: The Kind Campaign is auctioning off a day at the beach with Charlotte McKinney of Carl’s Jr’s Super Bowl commercial fame. The reserve is $4K. To bid, or buy the day outright for $15K, visit here.

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TAKING A SHINE: America saw record growth in solar power over the past decade, with 600K homes now using some sort of photovoltaic juice, up from 15,500 in 2004, according to an SEIA vid.

UBER CHEAP: Via, a ride service modeled on Israel’s sherut communal vans, offers shared transport for as little as $5 a head. Launched quietly in NYC last year, the service is expanding quickly – now river to river and from 110th down to 14th – with $27 million it raised in April. But don’t look for it in the ‘burbs, where low population density means we’re likely stuck with uber-expensive taxis and car service. Crain’s

LOVIN’ THE TIME OF COLLAR: Wag!, a left-coast dog walking platform that brings Uber-like service to pet owners, has launched in NYC. Rates: $20 for a 30-minute walk, or $30 for an hour walk, scheduled immediately or whenever you think Roscoe will need to go. NYBJ

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Beta newsletters going back to February are still being added, but most are archived here.

AD MARCELLINO SPOLIAS: As expected, State Sen. Carl Marcellino was named chair of his chamber’s education committee on Tuesday, replacing fellow Long Islander John Flanagan who moved on up to majority leader. The long-tenured Marcellino is a former school teacher who “gets” education, colleagues say. Additional cred: He’s married to a college professor.

POUR ME A PINT: It’s old blood, not old bones, that makes healing a fracture difficult for the elderly. Smithsonian

GOLDWATER SINKING: A 60-second time lapse video shows demolition crews take down Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island to make room for the future home of Cornell Tech. Curbed

LAST WORD: The good news is that paper is not dead. Despite mammoth drop offs in the use of newsprint and book paper, tissues and containerboard sales are soaring. The bad news? The Chinese have developed trees that grow 10 times faster than ours. NPR

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Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.