No. 417: Riding the Cyclone, battling preterm births, ERASE-ing racism – and the truth about Abner Doubleday

Scream machine: One minute and 50 seconds at a time, at a top speed of 60 MPH, the Cyclone rollercoaster has been thrilling riders since it opened on June 26, 1927.


June swoon: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as we hurtle toward the end of June and the end of the first full week of Summer 2019.

“School’s Open, Drive Carefully,” the old bumper stickers said, but that never made sense to us. It would seem that when schools are closed (most across Long Island go dark today, for the next 10 weeks) and kids are playing outdoors is when safety is paramount. But we digress.

Flagged: It’s Independence Day in Somalia.

Liberation libations: It’s June 26 out there and our Independence Day is still a week-plus away, but they’re already at it in Madagascar and Somalia, celebrating their emancipation from the French and the British, respectively, both in 1960.

Chill in: Today also marks a frigid first – the inaugural World Refrigeration Day, the UK-based Institute of Refrigeration’s annual (they hope) spotlight on temperature-control technologies and their importance to food supplies, medical-product storage and other temp-sensitive segments.

Christmas in June: In other unseasonable news, Christmas was declared a federal holiday by Congress on June 26, 1870.

Wheely big deals: This is an important date for vehicular innovations. On June 26, 1819, the first U.S. patent for the velocipede – a predecessor of the bicycle – was issued to New York inventor William Clarkson.

And it was this date in 1888 when the first U.S. patent for a gasoline-powered automobile was issued to German engineer Karl Benz.

Start your engines: Speaking of cars, the first Grand Prix auto race was held on June 26, 1906, in Le Mans, France.

Still storming: And speaking of fast cars, Coney Island’s Cyclone rollercoaster opened to the public on this date in 1927.

Not coincidentally, the famous wooden coaster was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 26, 1991.

Bar none: And it was 45 years ago today – at precisely 8:01 a.m. on June 26, 1974 – when a package of Wrigley’s chewing gum passed over a scanner at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, becoming the first product with a barcode logged under the Universal Product Code computerized recognition system.

Abner Doubleday: Pinch hitter.

Old ball game: Abner Doubleday (1819-1893), a decorated Union general and Civil War hero who did not invent baseball, would be 200 years old today. (For the record, he never claimed to have invented the sport, though others credited him).

June 26 birthday boys and girls also include French astronomer Charles Messier (1730-1817), who compiled 103 star clusters, nebulae and galaxies in his 1794 Messier Catalogue; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Pearl Buck (1892-1973); German aircraft innovator Willy Messerschmidt (1898-1978); American chemist and Teflon inventor Roy Plunkett (1910-1994); and Bernard Harris Jr. (born 1956), an American doctor and the first African-American to walk in space.

Actually, we’ll do the bowing this time: As we salute you, prolific Japanese inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu – “Japan’s Edison,” whose 3,000-plus patents dwarf Thomas Alva’s 1,093.

Wish these and all of June 26’s amazing innovators well at Story tips and calendar items always appreciated. Doumo arigatou.


About 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 more than 10,000 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.



Birth mark: A new collaborative research effort will team NYU Winthrop Hospital with a California company on a deep dive into women’s health and preterm births.

The Mineola hospital – the Long Island affiliate of the NYU Langone Health system – has granted exclusive licensing of “key intellectual property” to Progenity Inc., a privately held San Diego-based biotech. Specifically, NYU Winthrop has granted access to two patents (one U.S., one European) covering a “biomarker for predicting preterm births.”

With half-a-million U.S. pregnancies leading to preterm births annually, the two organizations will promote the discovery of additional preterm birth markers and the clinical validation of reproductive-health tests for possible commercialization by Progenity. “NYU Winthrop’s biomarker represents a potential breakthrough in predicting preterm births,” noted Louis Ragolia, NYU Winthrop’s director of biomedical research. “Progenity is providing exceptional expertise to harness the full capabilities of this important discovery.”

Vapor trail: The Truth in Medicine Poll is on the case.

Vapor-ized: Eighty percent of parents think vaping is addictive, 85 percent are worried their kids are curious about it and 63 percent believe e-cigarettes are unsafe, according to South Nassau Communities Hospital, which this week circulated its latest Truth in Medicine Poll.

The “vast majority” of the 600 Long Island and New York City parents polled for the survey correctly believe that puffing on e-cigarettes is addictive and dangerous, according to South Nassau, which teamed with Bethpage Federal Credit Union to present the findings. Other key survey results include the 56 percent who say they oppose new “vape shops” opening in their neighborhoods, while concerns about under-18 curiosity “may suggest a need for more education about e-cigarettes and similar vaping products,” according to South Nassau.

Ultimately, the full survey supports NYS Department of Health warnings that e-cigarette use is a major public-health concern. “Our poll shows that parents … believe that our kids are just as curious about vaping as they are about marijuana and alcohol,” noted Aaron Glatt, South Nassau epidemiologist and chairman of the hospital’s Department of Medicine. “No matter how it is delivered, whether by traditional cigarette or through vapor, nicotine in any form is highly addictive and can harm brain development in teenagers and young adults.”



First class: Adelphi University has significantly bolstered its faculty with the addition of several new deans.

Justice for all: Social equity took center stage when Syosset-based ERASE Racism honored its 2019 award-winners.

Cleaning up: A leading environmental-remediation firm with a thriving Great River operation was acquired in a $966 million takeover.



Vacation trepidation: Everyone loves summer vacation, but the educational “summer slide” is worst in school districts with fewer resources, warns K-12 education expert Harry Aurora, who has some ideas about that.



Pancreatic premiere: This Island Now checks into Northwell Health’s new Pancreatic Cancer Center in New Hyde Park.

Breadwinners: Crunching revenues and market capitalizations, Newsday serves up its annual breakdown of Long Island’s biggest companies.

Fannie the flames: From Forbes, how the new COO is fanning innovation at the Federal National Mortgage Association.



+ AnyVision, a New York City-based computer-vision company specializing in face-, body- and object-recognition software, closed a $74 million Series A financing round. Backers included new investors M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, DFJ Growth and OG Technology Partners, which joined LightSpeed Venture Partners, Robert Bosch GmbH, Qualcomm Ventures and Eldridge Industries.

+ Corinth MedTech, a California-based med-tech focused on benign prostatic hyperplasia and transurethral resection of bladder tumor, completed a $12 million Series D equity financing round led by ShangBay Capital and Aethan Capital.

+ Comet Therapeutics, a Massachusetts-based company focused on re-engineering coenzyme A-related metabolism, raised $28.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Canaan and Sofinnova Partners, with participation from Inkef Capital and BioInnovation Capital.

+ Enboarder, a Texas-based HR technology company creating engaging, cloud-based employee-onboarding experiences, closed an $8 million Series A financing round led by Greycroft, Next Coast Ventures and Stage 2 Capital.

+ goTenna, an NYC-based maker of tactical communications systems, raised $24 million in Series C equity and debt funding led by Founders Fund, Comcast Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Walden VC, MentorTech and Bloomberg Beta.

+ Viela Bio, a Maryland-based clinical-stage biotechnology company, completed a $75 million Series B funding round led by HBM Healthcare Investments, Viking Global Investors, Cormorant Asset Management, Terra Magnum Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs, Barer & Son Capital and Temasek.



Summer school: Nine new books that will make you smarter, wealthier and happier this summer, according to Amazon.

Summer vacation: The 25 best tomes for your summer reading list, approved by Good Housekeeping.

Summer camp: A seasonal effort in the United Arab Emirates is inspiring Dubai’s future innovators.

Summer of love: And fall, winter and spring, too – innovation never takes a vacation at Farmingdale State College, one of the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI. Check them out.