No. 512: In which Twain tinkers, Lovelace leaps and UFOs conquer the world

Alien nation: Tracked by U.S. Navy fighter jets, an unidentified flying object soars off the San Diego coast in 2004.


Phase in: Welcome to Wednesday and welcome to Phase 3, dear readers, a hard-earned reopening privilege which lands on Long Island today, and we will only keep by keeping COVID-19 at bay.

That means one-way supermarket lanes, rotating work shifts, masks in public spaces and other inconveniences for the foreseeable future – all told, still better than the alternative. Please stick with it.

Long story: This is actually tied to the OTHER World UFO Day.

The truth is out there: And it’s June 24 out there, one of two official dates for World UFO Day, which, like UFOs themselves, requires some explanation.

The bifurcated observance notes the dates in 1947 when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing a formation of “flying saucers” over Washington State (June 24) and several eyewitnesses reported a disc-shaped object flying and possibly crashing in New Mexico (July 2).

All wet: To our readers in the Philippines, a safe Wattah Wattah Festival – although the splashy June 24 salute to John the Baptist has been dried out by the pandemic.

Speaking of the trailblazing baptist, Fordham University – known originally as St. John’s College – was founded on June 24, 1841, in the Bronx.

Stuck with it: Well-known entrepreneur and tinkerer Samuel Clemens – known best by his pen name, Mark Twain – earned a U.S. patent for his self-pasting scrapbook on this date in 1873.

Other patents issued on June 24 include one in 2008 for California inventor Daniel Oas, who stepped up with an improved pedometer.

Mooooove: Too late. (Not the actual meteorite cow.)

Cow about that: History’s only known incident of a farm animal being struck by a meteor occurred on this date in 1938, when a huge fireball exploded over Pennsylvania and a small chunk of space stone took out a cow grazing on a Butler County farm.

Giant leap for mankind: And on the subject of objects falling from high places, it was June 24, 1943, when inventor William Randolph Lovelace II, a lieutenant-colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps, jumped out of a B-17 bomber at 40,200 feet to test his new emergency oxygen unit.

Lovelace – making his first-ever parachute jump – breathed well enough, but was knocked unconscious by the sudden deceleration and suffered severe frostbite on one hand. He landed safely almost 24 minutes after bailing out.

Steady hand: English astronomer and mathematician Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) – the foremost proponent of the universal steady-state theory, which says new matter is being constantly created to maintain density in an expanding universe – would be 105 years old today.

Messi business: Lionel, leg man.

Also born on June 24 were French-American chemist and all-time industrialist Éleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834); Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher (1804-1849), rooted in plant classifications; American meat magnate Gustavus Swift (1839-1903), who pioneered the refrigerated railroad car; British nuclear physicist William Penney (1909-1991), who led Britain’s contributions to the first A-bomb; and former New York Post and New York Daily News columnist Pete Hamill (born 1935).

Kick it: And take a bow, Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini – you know him as soccer star Lionel Messi, captain of both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team, who turns 33 today.

Wish the Argentine footballer and all the other June 24 innovators well at, where story tips and calendar items are always our goal.


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.



Get cracking: Stony Brook University’s Office of the Vice President for Research has had a busy quarter, providing nearly $400,000 in research funding directly related to COVID-19.

Along with SBU’s Institute for Engineering-Driven Medicine, the office has quickly backed 17 unique research projects – to the tune of $398,200 – through the OVPR & IEDM COVID-19 Seed Grant Program, which officially called for applications in late March. Among them: Deep dives into biomarker identifications, multiscale molecular stimulations, novel cyclophilin inhibitors and other pharmacological pursuits and psychological precepts associated with the global pandemic.

The funds were made available May 22 and all 17 projects are expected to be completed within a year. “It’s exciting to see the remarkable breadth of topics reflected in these seed-funding awards,” noted SBU Vice President for Research Richard Reeder. “It’s a clear demonstration of the vast expertise and creativity of our researchers across the entire university.”

John Nader: Double major.

Against the tide: Long Island’s “brain drain” – the mass exodus of our young and college-educated – is famous, but one of the Island’s top educational institutions continues to post brain gains.

Despite LI’s lack of affordable rental options and limited “downtown” socializing options (both frequently cited as brain-drain culprits), Farmingdale State College’s most recent Six Months After Graduation Report (surveying the graduating classes of 2018 and 2019, with about one-third of eligible grads responding) reveals that 92 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients were employed or continuing their education, 76 percent of them were working full time and 95 percent of those workers were working in the Greater New York region – with three-quarters employed right here on Long Island.

Other vital stats: About 21 percent of employed respondents reported annual salaries of at least $60,000 (40 percent reported $40,000 or more), while roughly half of all respondents reported having completed an internship at Farmingdale State – with about half of them being offered permanent jobs where they interned. “These are the kinds of outcomes that occur when we offer first-class teaching and provide our students with significant applied and experiential learning opportunities,” said Farmingdale State President John Nader. “In today’s highly competitive job market, students must have both.”



Craftiest of the craft: The pandemic delayed but didn’t derail the first-annual Craft Beer Marketing Awards, with clever creators earning their Crushies online.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Childcare rebounds, schools do their homework and the Island otherwise normalizes, all in our exclusive pandemic primer.

Vital link: COVID-19 will be back – and Innovate LI will be right here, studying the science, evaluating the economics and highlighting the brilliant innovations. Stay in the loop; newsletter subscriptions are always easy, always free.



The who, what, where and when of the Long Island innovation economy, by some of the region’s busiest and brightest influencers: That’s our exclusive Voices library.



Living wage: As remote-work opportunities rise, small cities are offering cash bonuses to attract new residents. Fast Company considers.

Fear of crowds: Crowdsourcing can nicely complement internal innovation, but also brings unique challenges. Forbes breaks it down.

Trolls, world tour: Did K-pop and TikTok really sink the president’s ballyhooed Tulsa rally? TRTWorld adds it up.



+ Foldax, a Utah-based heart valve company, closed a $20 million Series D funding round led by MemorialCare Innovation Fund, with participation from new investors Angel Physicians Fund and Sayan Bioventures and existing investors BioStar Capital, Kairos Ventures and Caltech.

+ Kaia Health, a New York City-based digital therapeutics company focused on chronic conditions, closed a $26 million Series B funding round led by Optum Ventures, Idinvest and capital300, with participation from existing investors Balderton Capital, Heartcore Capital and Symphony Ventures.

+ Botkeeper, a Massachusetts-based  AI-powered bookkeeping company, raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Point72 Ventures, with participation from High Alpha Capital, Republic Labs, Oakridge, Peak State, Ignition Partners, Greycroft Partners, Gradient Ventures and Sorenson Capital.

+, a NYC-based provider of an intelligent software platform for life sciences manufacturing, raised $7.5 million in funding. Insight Partners made the investment.

+ Zero Mass Water, an Arizona-based company making drinking water a renewable resource through hydropanels, raised $50 million in Series C1 equity financing led by funds managed by BlackRock, with participation from Duke Energy, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Material Impact Fund.

+ Big Health, a California-based digital therapeutics company dedicated to mental health, raised $39 million in Series B financing led by Gilde Healthcare, Morningside Ventures and existing investors Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Octopus Ventures and Samsung NEXT.


BELOW THE FOLD (Spaced Out Edition)

Straight to voicemail: Dozens of galactic civilizations can probably hear us … but are they listening?

Colony world: How many humans does it take to colonize a planet?

Detecting life signs: The search for ET turns to “technosignatures.”

These are the people in your neighborhood: Scientists now count 36 contactable alien civilizations in the Milky Way.

Boldly going: Please continue to support the amazing firms that support Innovate Long Island, including the Law Offices of Andrew Presberg, on a continuing mission to seek out and explore new avenues of commercial financing and real estate law.