No. 418: On penguins, jokers, Gotham’s water supply and Caith crusaders

Skroob you: Born Melvin Kaminsky, award-winning filmmaker, actor, comedian and composer Mel Brooks -- also great-uncle of New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) -- turns 93 today.


Keep cool: Baby, it’s hot out there, but don’t sweat it – you’ve reached the end of this sunny first week of Summer 2019. Well done, dear reader.

Pudding pop: Happy Tapioca Day.

It’s June 28 out there – National Insurance Awareness Day and National Tapioca Day, both real – and Alboin, king of the Italian peninsula’s Lombards until his assassination on this date in 572 A.D., is still dead.

Not tomorrow, Tau Day: In livelier news, June 28 is also Tau Day, a sort of mathematical match to Pi Day (traditionally March 14) that celebrates the number Tau, a circular constant that is, of course, equal to Pi times two (or about 6.28).

Perfect ending: Speaking of numbers, today is the only day of the year when the month (6) and the date (28) are different perfect numbers (a whole number that equals the sum of its divisors, excluding the whole number itself).

And that’s enough math for one day.

He could have had a V8: Gentleman farmer, judge, soldier and statesman Robert Gibbon Johnson devoured a tomato on the steps of the Salem, NJ, courthouse on June 28, 1820, disproving a common belief that the fruits were poisonous.

Sax machine: Inventor Antoine-Joseph “Adolfe” Sax patented the “Saxophone” on this date in 1846.

Dig it: The East River Gas Co. began work on the Long Island side of the East River Gas Tunnel on June 28, 1892.

Work on the New York City side began July 10 of that year. When the ends met in July 1894, it marked the completion of the first tunnel under the East River.

Can you hear me now? It was this date in 1965 when the first commercial telephone conversation via satellite took place, with the satellite Intelstat I connecting callers in America and Europe.

Nicknamed Early Bird I, Hughes Aircraft Co.’s communications platform was the first commercial communications satellite placed into geosynchronous orbit.

Second opinion: Not sure how the baboon felt about it.

Prime primate: And it was June 28, 1992, when the world’s first animal-to-human liver transplant was completed at the University of Pittsburgh, featuring a baboon liver.

Although the patient died 70 days later, the surgery is generally regarded as a xenotransplantation breakthrough.

Oh, Henry: Known best as the “father of the Royal Navy” (and for his six marriages), Henry VIII (born Henry Tudor, 1491-1547) would be 528 years old today.

Also born on June 28 were pioneering French brain surgeon Paul Broca (1824-1880); English surgeon and “father of modern orthopaedic surgery” Sir Robert Jones (1857-1933); American-German atomic physicist and Nobel laureate Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1906-1972); whole-body computerized tomography inventor Robert Ledley (1926-2012); iconic American comedian Mel Brooks (born 1926); and iconic American comedian Gilda Radner (1946-1989).

Write up: And take a bow, A.E. Hotchner – the celebrated American playwright, novelist and biographer (and co-founder, with Hollywood icon Paul Newman, of charity food company Newman’s Own) turns 99 today.

Wish the scribe, the jesters, his grace and the rest well at Story tips and calendar items always appreciated, please and thank you.

Grill seekers: Before we wrap up this week, a word about next week – Innovate LI will be AFK on and around Independence Day, so expect your Monday calendar newsletter per usual, and then we’ll catch you again on Monday, July 8, with a fresh serving of awesomesauce.

Enjoy your holiday. And please celebrate responsibly, for serious.


A few words from our sponsor: Nixon Peabody is an international law firm with an office in Jericho that works with clients who are building the technologies and industries of the future. We have the experience necessary to drive your business forward and help you negotiate risks and opportunities related to all areas of business and the law, including startup work, private placements, venture capital and private equity, IP and licensing, labor and immigration and mergers and acquisitions.



Kristina Johnson: Workforce investor.

NYCAN can: The State University of New York’s 30 community colleges, including two on Long Island, will work with industry to create a new statewide advanced-manufacturing apprenticeship program.

Leveraging a roughly $8 million U.S. Department of Labor grant, SUNY will create the New York College Apprenticeship Network, designed to provide students at Nassau Community College, Suffolk County Community College and 28 other nonresidential junior colleges on-the-job training and, ultimately, employment in the advanced manufacturing sector.

Chancellor Kristina Johnson expressed gratitude to U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY 17), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, for their efforts in securing the Labor Department grant. “An educated and highly skilled workforce is among the best investments in growing New York’s economy,” Johnson said Thursday. “SUNY is proud to be leading by example to train the next generation of apprentices.”

Such a waste: A flood of special guests – including county and state lawmakers, top ecologists and more – is expected to flow to Stony Brook University July 9, as the university cuts the ribbon on its novel Wastewater Research and Innovation Facility.

Part of SBU’s New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, the new WRIF will be a testing site for advanced nutrient-removal systems – they’re looking at you, nitrogen – and other alternatives to traditional on-site septic systems.

With roughly one-third of all New Yorkers depending on groundwater for their residential water – including 3 million Long Islanders relying on an oft-challenged underground aquifer system – the facility will concentrate specifically on countering dangerous, sometimes deadly septic system effects on surrounding basins. According to SBU, there are 350,000 septic systems in Suffolk County alone.



Bird brain: A Stony Brook University ecologist with a passion for penguins and a Big Data bent has snagged a chunky national honor.

Healthy start: An innovative pipeline program will funnel high-achieving, socially disadvantaged collegians into the Zucker School of Medicine.

Extra power: For the 12th straight year, the Caithness Long Island Energy Center has granted college scholarships to science-minded LI high schoolers.



New deans at Adelphi, new champions at ERASE Racism, new owners at NRC Group.



Innovate LI’s inbox overrunneth with inspirational ideas from all North American corners. This week’s brightest out-of-town innovations:

Unwrapped: Luxury snacking, in the flesh.

From California: Los Angeles-based NUDE Chocolate Co. presents “luxury health snacks” featuring dark-chocolate cacao and reishi mushrooms.

From Missouri: Kansas City-based Dymec introduces an NSA-approved line of cyber-secure, industrial-strength ethernet switches and routers.

From New York City: Boutique fitness brand Flywheel Sports peddles its flagship Home Bike on, with “dedicated fitness spaces” rolling into 100-plus stores.



+ Brianne Navetta-Modrov has been hired as head physician, allergy and immunology, at Stony Brook Medicine’s Advanced Specialty Care in Commack. She recently completed an allergy/immunology fellowship at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

Paul Vitale: Toy story.

+ Paul Vitale, executive vice president of finance and operations at the Toy Association in Manhattan, has been appointed president of the Roslyn Heights-based North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center’s Board of Directors.

+ Sonia Lee has been hired as director of implementation at Garden City-based Spectrum Vision Partners. She previously served as director of operations at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

+ Paul Hagan has been hired as president and chief operating officer at First Central Savings Bank in Glen Cove. He previously served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at Hanover Community Bank in Garden City Park.

+ Anthony Acampora, partner-in-charge at Jericho-based SilvermanAcampora, has been elected vice chairman of the American Red Cross Long Island Chapter’s Board of Directors.

+ Andrew Helliwell has been hired as executive chef at Gatsby on the Ocean in Wantagh. He previously held the same position at The Mansion at Glen Cove.

+ Michael Murphy has been promoted to senior executive manager of commercial sales at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Huntington. He previously served as Douglas Elliman’s head of operations for commercial services.



Sizzling: Crunchbase serves up 2019’s 50 hottest tech companies.

Grill master: PC Magazine reviews the year’s best grilling gadgets.

No cheese: NASA reveals moon treasures locked away since Apollo.

Real chops: Please continue supporting the great firms that support Innovate LI, including Nixon Peabody, where the Food, Beverage and Agribusiness Practice Group is the foodpreneur’s best friend.