No. 470: Into the ‘Digital Void’ with Oprah and the Babe (plus, another big bioelectronic breakthrough)

Hall right: The immortal Babe Ruth and four other all-time greats became the first inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame 84 years ago today.


Halftime show: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as we reach the midpoint of Super Bowl week and this latest five-day run of socioeconomic innovation.

On-the-job training: Future workforce.

Corny, we know: It’s Jan. 29 out there, and with the big game coming up and all, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note National Corn Chip Day.

For those keeping score, it’s also National Carnation Day and National Seeing Eye Dog Day, celebrating the highly trained animal companions.

Quothing it ever since: Speaking of innovative animals, one of the most famous poems in U.S. history took flight on Jan. 29, 1845, when The Evening Mirror of New York City ran “The Raven” – the first published work by Edgar Allan Poe.

Sunflower? Wheat? JayHawker? Whatever your preferred state nickname, happy anniversary Kansas, admitted as the 34th state of the union on this date in 1861.

“Mercedes” came later: But German engineer Karl Benz patented the “Motorwagen,” the first successful internal combustion-powered gasoline automobile, in his home country on Jan. 29, 1886.

United States patents issued on Jan. 29 include one in 1895 for inventor Charles Steinmetz, who paved the way for a dramatic expansion of the global electric-power industry with an alternating-current distribution system.

Non-stop: As a running back, Bronislau (Bronko) Nagurski was bigger than most defensive linemen.

Hall monitor: The first five inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame – Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson – were announced on this date in 1936.

Coincidentally, it was Jan. 29, 1963, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its first 17 members, including all-timers Red Grange, Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski.

Can it: And it was this date in 1978 when Sweden became the first nation to ban aerosol sprays containing chlorofluorocarbons, citing mounting evidence that they were harming the ozone layer.

Batteries included: Lewis Frederick Urry (1927-2004), a Canadian-American chemical engineer who invented both the alkaline battery and the lithium battery, would be 93 years old today.

Also born on Jan. 29 wereVoice of the American Revolution” Thomas Paine (1737-1809); City of Cleveland namesake Moses Cleaveland (1754-1806, and yeah, that’s how he spelled it); 25th U.S. President William McKinley (1843-1901); monumental Russian essayist and playwright Anton Chekhov (1860-1904); and American engineer/industrialist Allen Du Mont (1901-1965), who perfected the cathode-ray tube and founded the Du Mont Broadcasting Co.

“Purple” heart: Oprah (center), in her Oscar-nominated turn as Sofia in “The Color Purple.”

O, that’s good: And take a bow, Oprah Gail Winfrey – the American media executive, actress, talk-show host, television producer and philanthropist turns 66 today.

Wish these and all the other Jan. 29 innovators a happy birthday at We’ll take the presents – story tips, calendar items, all shapes and sizes, please and thank you.


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Cohen: Filling the digital gaps.

Into the void: A Molloy College new media professor and a Molloy graduate are teaming up for a new monthly interview show focused on common gaps in digital culture and media.

Co-produced by Molloy graduate Josh Chapdelaine, “The Digital Void Salon Series” will feature Professor Jamie Cohen and guests discussing communications topics in front of a live audience, with an audience Q&A to follow. The first episode, featuring WIRED senior reporter Issie Lapowsky, will focus on how Russian trolls and bots spread disinformation during the 2016 presidential election; it’s scheduled to tape Feb. 12 at Civic Hall, the New York City innovation hub.

Future scheduled guests of “The Digital Void” include Buzzfeed’s Ryan Broderick and Marvel comic book writer Leah Williams. “Conversations about culture, identity, politics and power are at the center of how we forge meaning together,” Cohen notes. “This show and the conversations we will have are meant to challenge digital structures in physical spaces as we explore that which can’t be quantized.”

We’ll drink to that (or not): A toast, dear friends, to New York State, which knows when to say when.

That’s the word from The Drunkest States in America, a new national study by California-based home-security aggregator that ranks New York as the 32nd heaviest-drinking state in the union, based on “consumption patterns” determined through voluntary public surveys. Among the findings: Just 58.8 percent of adult New Yorkers drink alcohol (ranking the state 21st nationally) and only 26.8 percent binge-drink (22nd), while the average New Yorker consumes just 2.2 gallons of booze annually, the 34th lowest average consumption in the country.

For the record, the five heaviest-drinking states are the District of Columbia (we’ll allow it), Vermont, South Dakota, New Hampshire and North Dakota, while Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma rank as the five lightest-drinking. Soak up the entire survey right here.



Vision quest: A wide-eyed Eastern Suffolk BOCES educator and an eye-opening British technology are helping severely challenged students see the world.

Virus protection: The scary new coronavirus (probably) isn’t coming for you, though a little precaution couldn’t hurt, according to this Hofstra health expert.

The long and short of it: An extra-tiny implant with a long-term lifespan heralds a bioelectronics breakthrough, according to beaming Feinstein Institutes researchers.



Education, entrepreneurism, economic development, healthcare, law, media, marketing, workforce and the wide, wonderful world of food – all this and more, with a Long Island innovation twist, in our fun and fantastic Voices library. Catch up quick.



Small-minded: Quartz zooms in on the “extra small business,” a growing part of the national economy.

Middle ground: The Casper Star-Tribune takes a good, long look at innovation in middle America.

Big mystery: America is at “full employment,” but salaries aren’t keeping up. The Washington Post is on the case.



+ FloQast, a California-based provider of close-management software for accountants, raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Insight Partners and Polaris Partners.

+ Advano, a Louisiana-based tech company focused on rechargeable batteries, closed an $18.5 million Series A funding round co-led by Mitsui Kinzoku SBI Material Innovation Fund, Future Shape and PeopleFund, with participation from Thiel Capital, DCVC and Y Combinator, among others.

+ Quench Bio, a Massachusetts-based biotech focused on severe inflammatory diseases, completed a $50 million Series A financing round led by RA Capital Management, with participation from new Investor Abbvie Ventures, Atlas Venture and Arix Bioscience.

+ Socially Determined, a Washington-based health-tech startup quantifying the impact of social determinants on health, closed an $11.1 million Series A funding round. Backers included Healthworx, Lafayette General Health, Ziegler Link-Age Funds, ProMedica, 3M, OSF HealthCare, LRVHealth and existing investors.

+ Memphis Meats, a California-based cell-based meat, poultry and seafood company, closed a $161 million Series B funding round led by SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek, with participation from Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Threshold Ventures, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Finistere, Future Ventures, Kimbal Musk, Fifty Years and CPT Capital.

+ Lynq Technologies, a New York City-based deep-tech startup that connects people and devices without cellular networks or infrastructure, raised $6 million in seed funding. Backers included ff Venture Capital, Sony Innovation Fund, Chetrit Ventures and Plus Eight Equity Partners.


BELOW THE FOLD (Working-From-Home-Today Edition)

Homework: The age of the telecommuter has arrived.

Coming up: Why telecommuting may be the future of productivity.

Top down: How poor management routinely fails the remote worker.

Home office: How to keep it professional in a residential setting.

Home team: Comprehensive auditing, accounting, consulting and tax services live at EisnerAmper, home of the uber-informative Knowledge Center (and one of the amazing companies that support Innovate LI). Check them out.