No. 472: On videogames, infectious diseases and historic blizzards (and the return of Capt. Picard)

Eye of the beholder: Mona, cubed, still pretty light on the eyebrows.


Center piece: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as we reach the middle of another busy workweek – and the exact midpoint of the blessedly mild (at least in these parts) Winter of 2020.

Be creative: It’s actually a plumbing company promotion, but we’re all about innovative thinking around here.

That makes it Feb. 5 out there, giving you plenty of interesting options – it’s National Chocolate Fondue Day, Western Monarch Day (celebrating the butterfly, not the royals) and National Shower With a Friend Day (which isn’t as exciting as it sounds).

That’s poetic: This date also marks Runeberg’s Birthday in Finland, honoring Finnish-Swedish epic poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, who wrote the verse that became the Finnish National Anthem.

Condensed version: Speaking of chapters and verse, general-interest magazine Reader’s Digest first published on Feb. 5, 1922.

Patents aplenty: It’s a big date for IP – U.S. patents were issued on Feb. 5 for the first push-key adding machine (1850), Gail Borden’s “meat biscuits” (officially, “Portable Soup Bread,” also 1850) and the kinematoscope (an early attempt at motion pictures, 1861).

Oh, and: A bunch of patents for Thomas Edison, including his “Phonograph Recorder and Reproducer” (1889) and electric car starter (1918).

Right back on the horse: Undeterred by the near-disaster of 1970’s Apollo 13 mission, Apollo 14 – the third manned U.S. mission to reach the moon – touched down on Feb. 5, 1971, landing astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell near the Fra Mauro crater.

In other stellar news, it was this date in 1974 when NASA space probe Mariner 10 achieved two firsts, returning the first close-up photos (just 3,500 miles) of Venus, then using the planet for a “gravity assist” that pushed the probe toward a rendezvous with Mercury one month later.

Keeping tab: The New York Post told the story, four decades ago.

Snow day: And today marks the 42nd anniversary of the catastrophic Blizzard of 1978, which had already ravaged the Midwest – snow drifts reached 20 feet in Ohio – by the time it dumped on the Northeast, en route to killing 100 people and causing a then-record $520 million in damage.

Taking it to the Maxim: Diverse American-British inventor Hiram Maxim (1840-1916) –  who patented a hair-curling iron, a headlamp for locomotives and a deadly machine gun, among other wide-ranging inventions – would be 180 years old today.

Also born on Feb. 5  were American biochemist Lafayette Mendel (1872-1935), who studied vitamins and proteins and helped establish modern concepts of nutrition; American tennis great Elizabeth Ryan (1891-1979), who captured 26 Grand Slam titles; influential Swiss visual artist H.R. Giger (1940-2014); and prolific American television producer Stephen J. Cannell (1941-2010), who brought us favorites ranging from “The Rockford Files” to “21 Jump Street.”

Starting line: Pong, where it all began for videogames.

That’s no blip: And take a bow, Nolan Bushnell – the American electrical engineer, known best as the creator of Pong (the first commercially successful videogame) and the co-founder of Atari, turns 77 today.

Wish the alpha gamer, the leader of “The A-Team” and all the other Feb. 5 innovators well at – a great chance to slip in a story tip or calendar item. We love it when a plan comes together!


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Carol Gomes: Interim no more.

Same as the old boss: After eight months at the helm, Carol Gomes has struck the “interim” from her title and officially been named CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital.

Gomes, who succeeded former CEO Ernest Baptiste last June, boasts more than 35 years of professional experience, most at SBUH, including a long turn as the hospital’s chief operating officer. She’s the ideal leader for Long Island’s premier academic medical center and Suffolk County’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, according to Interim Stony Brook University President Michael Bernstein, who noted her “passion for transformative healthcare” when announcing Gomes’ appointment Tuesday.

The CEO, who earned two master’s degrees at SBU (Management and Policy and Healthcare Management and Administration), trumpeted “an exciting time for Stony Brook Medicine,” with an “upward trajectory” in growth, reputation and quality outcomes throughout the system. “It is an honor and privilege to be part of this dynamic team,” Gomes added.

Move-in condition: Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County has almost everything it needs for its 2020 CEO Blitz – an approximate date, an exact location, generous corporate sponsors, professional construction partners and a growing list of volunteers, all ready to turn an empty slab of East Hampton concrete into a brand-new single-family home in just three short weeks.

The only thing missing: a family to occupy it.

To that end, applications are now being accepted, with Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk seeking “a very special family to qualify for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and volunteers to put in the ‘sweat equity’ to help us build.” Preference will be given to local East Hampton applicants, where the 2020 CEO Blitz is expected to raise a 1,200-square-foot, four-bedroom home this fall. More information right here.



Game theory: A Student Night event at NYC’s hottest gaming arcade spotlights New York Tech’s growing interest in a billion-dollar national industry.

Viral marketing: A top Long Island architecture/design firm is trumpeting brainier blueprints as a means of slowing down infectious diseases.

Rebound: New York Community Bank’s annual earnings dipped during its up-and-down FY2019, but Long Island’s largest bank sees plenty of positives ahead.



Recruitment pitch: The good news is, people are living longer. But we’re running out of geriatric specialists, warns Northwell VP Terry Lynam, who thinks the healthcare industry needs a fresh spin on old-age medicine.



Buns and breasts: Stay calm, men.

Boobs: The Atlantic tries to understand why some men think Impossible Whoppers will give them breasts – and what this says about belief in the 21st century.

Tubes: TV Technology tunes in and turns on as impressive television innovations dazzle at CES 2020.

Cubes: CNN International squares up a “Mona Lisa” replica made from Rubik’s Cubes, expected to fetch more than $166,000 at auction.



+ AppHarvest, a Kentucky-based agtech developing large-scale, hi-tech greenhouses for non-GMO, chemical-free tomatoes and vegetables, closed an $11 million corporate funding round. Investors included ValueAct Capital, Equilibrium, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund and Blake Griffin Enterprises.

+ HeyMama, a New York City-based social and professional network of working mothers, raised $2 million in seed funding. Backers included Rebecca Minkoff, Kori Estrada, Kathryn Moos, Janna Meyrowitz Tuner, Divya Gugnani, Alison Wyatt, Sari Azout, Kymberly Marciano, Karen Cahn and Keith Billing.

+ Vizgen, a Massachusetts-based biotech developing solutions for next-generation single-cell transcriptomics, closed a $14 million Series A financing led by ARCH Venture Partners and Northpond Ventures.

+ P2 Science, a Connecticut–based renewable chemistry company, closed a $12 million Series C financing round led by HG Ventures and Chanel, Xeraya Capital, BASF Venture Capital, Elm Street Ventures, Connecticut Innovations and Ironwood Capital Connecticut, with participation from new backer Safermade.

+ Kaigo, an NYC-based end-to-end nutrition platform that delivers dietitian-designed meals tailored to individual health needs, raised $3 million in seed funding. Backers included Mike Lee, founder of MyFitnessPal, and former NBA Commissioner David Stern’s Micromanagement Ventures.

+ IDbyDNA, a California-based metagenomics company focused on novel technologies for microorganism detection, raised $20 million in Series B financing led by Artis Ventures, with participation from Genesys Capital and others.


BELOW THE FOLD (Jean-Luc Picard Edition)

Picard manuever: Leadership strategies from the “Star Trek” legend.

Make it so: As he returns to the captain’s chair after two decades, five timeless leadership lessons from “Star Trek’s” most even-tempered hero.

Begin scanning: How “seamless biometric onboarding” is working out for this all-digital Filipino bank (and its clients).

Fire the torpedoes: And hold your breath, as the Underwater Torpedo League brings athletic competition to new depths.

Enterprising: Please remember to beam your support to the amazing firms that support Innovate LI, including Sahn Ward Coschignano, where the Environment, Energy and Resources practice group boldly explores new frontiers in environmental law.