No. 488: A nasal passage, a naval plussage and the on-point Pandemic Primer – Island in a global storm

Behind the masks: A groundbreaking technology that can disinfect as many as 80,000 healthcare-worker masks per day is now in use at Stony Brook University.


Lockdown lowdown: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as we hurdle our homebound humps – pardon the imagery – and slide into the second half of this latest coronavirus-shaped workweek.

But not least: As reimagined by Da Vinci.

It’s April 1 out there – anniversary of the actual Last Supper, according to one historian, not to mention Edible Book Day, which (no fooling) is a real thing.

Seriously: It appears this will be a down year for April Fool’s Day jocularity, with Google secretly planning to skip its traditional April 1 pranks and some countries even threatening legal action against perpetrators of coronavirus-related foolery.

That includes the United States, where President Trump has ordered Attorney General Barr to investigate and prosecute all April Fool’s Day pranks reported to a special Justice Department website, with significant jail time looming. Better play it straight, folks.

I’ll buy that for a dollar! The dollar sign was (maybe) created on this date in 1778, in a letter penned by a Louisiana merchant.

The old chew and sip: Two indelible brands – Chicago chewing gum champ Wrigley Co. (in 1881) and Swiss coffeemaker Nestlé (in 1938) – also debuted on April 1.

Start your engine: American inventor Samuel Morey patented the first internal-combustion engine on this date in 1826.

Other U.S. patents issued on April 1 include one in 1890 for Belgian inventor Charles Van Depoele, who locked up the first electric trolley car.

Cleaning up: The world’s first commercial dishwashing machine, designed and patented by U.S. inventor Josephine Cochrane, went on sale on this date in 1889.

Going up: And Tiros-1, planet Earth’s first weather-observation satellite, blasted off from Cape Kennedy on this date in 1960.

The NASA orbiter provided the first regular data on global meteorological patterns and beamed down the first television images from space.

Fisk taker: James Fisk Jr. (1835-1872) – the American stockbroker and Gilded Age “robber baron” known alternatively as “Big Jim,” “Diamond Jim” and “Jubilee Jim” – would be 185 years old today.

Why the Lon face: Do you know me?

Also born on April 1 were way-before-his-time English physician William Harvey (1578-1657), who divined the heart’s true purpose; gender barrier-busting French mathematician Sophie Germain (1776-1831), pioneer of elasticity theory; “Man of a Thousand Faces” Lon Chaney (1883-1930); bestselling sci-fi scribe Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011); and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai (1940-2011), founder of the Green Belt Movement.

WiFi hero: And take a bow, Norman Abramson – the American engineer and computer scientist, who created ALOHAnet, the first wireless data network, turns 88 today.

Send well wishes for the programmer, the political activist and all the other April 1 innovators to Story tips, calendar items and your deepest thoughts on elasticity theory also appreciated.


About our sponsor: The Law Offices of Andrew Presberg is Long Island’s premier “IDA attorney” for businesses relocating, expanding and growing on Long Island. Founded in 1984, the practice also focuses on the purchase, sale, leasing and financing of commercial and industrial property, SBA loan transactions, construction, commercial banking and real estate litigation.



The masked zinger: From the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle File comes Ohio-based science stronghold Battelle, a frequent friend of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research that’s laser-focused right now on the nation’s dangerously short supply of breathing masks.

This week, Battelle deployed its Critical Care Decontamination System – armed with “concentrated, vapor-phase hydrogen peroxide” – to blast clean N95 respirators, the strap-on workhorse of healthcare providers, at Stony Brook University. After a quick testing round, the SBU-based system is expected to hit the ground running, decontaminating some 80,000 masks per day and sending them back to regional front lines.

That’s good news to providers at Stony Brook Medicine and surrounding medical hubs, which will share in the quick-disinfected spoils. More information on the CCDS – which Battelle pushed into mass production earlier this week – right here.

Radar love: New York Tech’s sweet Batu.

On their radar: Another New York Institute of Technology faculty member has caught the federal government’s attention, earning a pair of prestigious summer fellowships locked in on advanced radar technologies.

Batu Chalise – a New York Tech assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and expert in passive and over-the-horizon radar, as well as advanced communications theories and systems – has been awarded the prestigious Office of Naval Research Fellowship, which will send him to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington for 10 weeks of cutting-edge experiments on radar-systems tech.

Chalise has also earned a 2020 Air Force Research Laboratory Summer Faculty Research Fellowship, offering him hands-on study of multiple-target tracking systems at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. “I am looking forward to utilizing this opportunity for establishing collaborations with these labs,” Chalise said in a statement, “and exploring their possible support to fund research and educational activities at New York Tech.”



Marshall-ing our forces: Legal eagle Michael Sahn invokes another famous rebuilding strategy as he lays out a multifaceted, post-pandemic economic-recovery plan.

The nose knows: With 3D-printed nasal swabs passing the smell test, Northwell Health’s additive-manufacturing operations are on COVID-19’s case.

Voices of reason: Featuring expert observations from deep inside the innovation economy, Innovate LI’s exclusive Voices library is the entrepreneur’s best pandemic friend.



When is an F not an F? When you’re an Adelphi University undergrad during a global health crisis. This and other amazing tidbits – including SBU’s latest antiviral push and a “vulnerable” senior squad taking the fight to COVID-19 – await in our Long Island-centric Pandemic Primer.



Fast-paced race: The Guardian laces up for the global sprint toward a COVID-19 vaccine.

Innovation intervention: suggests the global pandemic was the exact challenge healthcare needed.

Simultaneous stimulus: Scientific American warns that Uncle Sam must support post-pandemic scientific research alongside other economic sectors.



+ OneThree Biotech, a New York City-based, biology-driven AI platform that optimizes drug discovery and development, closed a $2.5 million seed round co-led by Primary Venture Partners and Meridian Street Capital.

+ mPower Technology, a New Mexico-based solar technology company, closed an additional $1.85 million Series A funding round. The extension round included investments from Cottonwood Technology Fund, NMA Ventures and various angel investors.

+ Design Therapeutics, a California-based developer of a new class of therapies focused on nucleotide repeat expansions, closed a $45 million Series A financing round led by SR One, with participation from Cormorant Asset Management, Quan Capital and WestRiver Group.

+ HighByte, a Maine-based industrial software company, raised $875,000 in pre-seed funding. Backers included Maine Venture Fund and Switzerland-based Momenta Ventures.

+ Plastiq, a California-based intelligent-payments solution for small business, closed a $75 million Series D funding round led by B Capital Group, with participation from previous investors Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures, Accomplice and Top Tier Capital Partners.

+ Forager, an Illinois-based technology company providing shippers with a cross-border pricing and booking portal servicing the United States, Mexico and Canada, raised $10 million in Series A financing led by U.S. Venture Partners, Chicago Ventures and new investor Soma Capital.



At the bat: Celebrity entrepreneur Casey Neistat, among the heavy hitters influencing YouTube’s #StayHome campaign.

On your marks: How top entrepreneurs do mornings.

Get set: Preparing now for the new world economy.

Stay: YouTube’s influencer-packed #StayHome campaign encourages and entertains.

Start to finish: Nobody runs the race like the Law Offices of Andrew Presberg, the commercial client’s best friend and one of the amazing firms that support Innovate LI. Check them out.