No. 427: Mean streets, herbal treats and fiscal feats – plus, supermarkets for robots

Slinker, dancer, soldier, spy: Dutch exotic dancer, French intelligence agent and possible German mole Margaretha Zelle -- known best by her stage name, Mata Hari -- was born Aug. 7, 1876.


Warmest greetings: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as we slog through a sticky summertime stretch of socioeconomic innovation.

It’s Aug. 7 out there, and we’re at the steamy center of Summer 2019 – the mathematical midpoint between the June 21 summer solstice and the Sept. 23 autumnal equinox.

Freedom’s shores: Celebrating its 1960 emancipation from France, Ivory Coast marks its Independence Day today.

Party on, Côte d’Ivoire: To our readers along the Ivory Coast, a joyous Independence Day.

Here in the States, Aug. 7 is National Lighthouse Day, celebrating a 1789 act of Congress that nationalized lighthouses, buoys and public piers.

Look into the seeds of time: It was this date in 1606 when Williams Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” was staged for the first time, in a command performance for King James I.

Casting note: The Bard himself played the role of Lady Macbeth, according to legend.

Toil and trouble: On the subject of witches, Katharina Kepler – mother of legendary man of science Johannes Kepler – was arrested on Aug. 7, 1620, in Germany on a laundry list of witchcraft charges.

With the all-time astronomer leading her defense, Momma Kepler – who reportedly phased through closed doors, paralyzed a schoolmaster with wine and caused “inhuman pain” with a simple slap, among other spooky acts – was exonerated.

All heart: George Washington, then commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, created the Badge for Military Merit – known better as the Purple Heart – on this date in 1782.

Roundabout: Philadelphia innovator Theophilus Van Kannel earned a U.S. patent on Aug. 7, 1888, for the revolving door.

Another head-spinning patent was issued one year ago today, when Harvard University researchers protected their “De novo design of allosteric proteins” – methods and materials for making and isolating allosteric DNA-binding proteins that bind to allosteric effectors to induce a conformation change. (Obviously.)

The mighty Thor: Heyerdahl (right) and mate aboard their ricketry raft.

The raft of Kon: And it was Aug. 7, 1947, when the balsa-wood raft Kon-Tiki crashed into an uninhabited islet off Raroia atoll in the southern Pacific Ocean, ending a 101-day, 4,300-mile voyage – and substantiating Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s theory that South American natives could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

It’s complicated: Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (1876-1917) – a Dutch exotic dancer, French spy and infamous World War I German double agent (or was she?) known best by her stage name, Mata Hari – would be 143 years old today.

Other Aug. 7 birthdays include “father of Swedish poetry” Georg Stiernhielm (1598-1672); prominent physicist James Bowdoin II (1726-1790), founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; German geographer Carl Ritter (1779-1859), credited with cofounding modern geographical science; radio-electronics pioneer Alan Hazeltine (1886-1964); and renowned geneticist M.S. Swaminathan (born 1925), leader of India’s “Green Revolution.”

Wobegon days: And take a bow, Garrison Keillor – the American author, humorist, voice actor and radio personality, known best as the creator of Minnesota Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” turns 77 today.

Wish the one-time NPR mainstay a happy birthday at – and we’d be much obliged if you’d drop in a story tip or calendar item, after these commercial messages from Powdermilk Biscuits and the Ketchup Advisory Board.


About our sponsor: Science and technology are driving the economy, and Adelphi University offers three innovative programs preparing the next generation of business and industry leaders. A unique Accelerated Business of Science program provides a high-speed path for earning a BS and MBA in just five years. The Scientific Computing minor, developed in partnership with Brookhaven National Laboratory, gives undergraduate students the advanced skills needed to analyze data in large-scale experiments. And the Willumstad Winning Edge, a new undergraduate program at the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, prepares students to be tech- and career-ready for today’s quickly changing business world.



Speakers’ bureau: Lots to say at CEWIT 2019.

To WIT: No stranger to big names, Stony Brook University’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology has booked a world-class slate of speakers for its CEWIT 2019 conference.

Focused on machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain and computational medicine, the 15th International Conference on Emerging Technologies for a Smarter World offers a daylong agenda of interactive presentations and panel discussions with representatives of Brookhaven National Laboratory, IBM, Zebra Technologies, GE, Melville-based global distributor Henry Schein and other leading R&D organizations.

Among the impressive speakers: GE Global Research Senior Materials Scientist Voramon Deeradhada, IBM Master Inventor Achille Fokoue, Henry Schein Big Data honcho Dan Holewienko, SBU Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation Director Steve Skiena and Shantenu Jha, chairman of BNL’s Center for Data-Driven Discovery. A complete list of speakers and info on conference registration awaits here.

New management: From the No Stone Unturned Department comes a Feinstein Institute for Medical Research professor who’s helped fine-tune a common treatment for atrial fibrillation patients, with potentially dramatic results.

One in six AF patients requires anticoagulant treatments, but since Direct Oral Anticoagulants became available to atrial fibrillation patients a decade ago, no serious analysis of how the treatments might change around surgeries – the specific timing of treatment interruption and resumption, for instance – has been made, until now.

A new study published this week in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine by co-principal investigator Alex Spyropoulos, who also directs Anticoagulation and Clinical Thrombosis Services for the Northwell Health system, suggests that tweaking DOAC treatments prior to AF surgeries can improve outcomes – a discovery that “demonstrate how researchers are advancing our mission to produce knowledge to cure disease,” according to Feinstein Institute CEO Kevin Tracey.



Under fire: With gun violence shaking the nation, one Long Island community is calling in physical and technological reinforcements.

High crimes: Not so much, actually, as Albany substantially decriminalizes New York’s marijuana-possession laws.

Health wealth: Strong sales and increased earnings mark the latest record-setting quarter for Melville global distributor Henry Schein.



Class act: Our K-12 education expert, Harry Aurora, explains why bringing online SAT-preparation courses into the classroom is an A-plus for scholastic and economic success.


Clean machine: “Marty” makes the rounds.


Aisle one: Newsday cleans up with Stop & Shop’s new spill-sensing robots.

Aisle two: Supermarket News rings up a Pennsylvania regional grocer looking to redefine “digital innovation.”

Aisle three: Food Navigator looks up a Norwegian software startup tracking edible expiration dates, potentially reducing food waste by 85 percent.



+ IVX Health, a Tennessee-based, patient-focused operator of ambulatory infusion centers, completed a $22.5 million funding round co-led by McKesson Ventures and Health Velocity Capital, with participation from existing institutional investor Nueterra Capital and new investor CrimsoNox Capital.

+ Lucira Health, a California-based developer of instrument-free, molecular-infectious disease-testing products, closed $15 million Series B equity financing round led by Seraph Group, with participation from Eclipse Ventures, DCVC (Data Collective), Y Combinator, Sunstone Management and new backer ShangBay Capital.

+ Bloomscape, a Michigan-based direct-to-consumer plant company, raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Revolution Ventures, with participation from Endeavor, Allbirds co-founder Joey Zwillinger, Away co-founder Jen Rubio, Eventbrite co-founder Kevin Hartz, Harry’s co-founder Jeff Raider, Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever and Warby Parker co-founders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa.

+ Jobble, a Massachusetts-based community of on-demand workers, raised $11 million in funding led by Vestigo Ventures and AXA Venture Partners, with participation from Guardian Strategic Ventures and Harlem Capital Partners.

+ Romeo Systems, a California-based developer of sustainable power systems for electric vehicles, received a $4 million investment from HG Ventures.

+ Lyndra Therapeutics, a Massachusetts-based developer of once-monthly oral contraceptives, received a $13 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Stimulating: Perk up, innovator. Or don’t.


Lazy: Why boredom is good for us, and especially for the creative process.

Hazy: A definitive summertime guide to hazy beers.

Crazy: Showing a little love for all the mad scientists out there.

Days of summer: Please continue supporting the great institutions that support Innovate LI, including Adelphi University, where a full slate of summer programs keeps the innovative education rolling all year long.