No. 516: On margarine, Boeing and The Rosetta Stone – and playing the odds at Jones Beach

Rock of ages: The Rosetta Stone, key to translating volumes of ancient Egyptian literature, was unearthed by French invaders in Egypt 221 years ago today.


Hot days, cold stretch: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as COVID-19 rages across the land – though not in New York, where we’ve earned a reprieve – and we steam into the second half of this latest sultry summer workweek.

It’s July 15 out there – a tough one for the selfish, with it being National Give Something Away Day and all.

Worm hole: Gummi up the works today.

No accounting for tastes: It’s also National Gummi Worm Day (that’s a thing?!?) and National Tapioca Pudding Day (OK, we’ll accept that).

Forward marg: Speaking of different tastes for different buds, French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriés sparked the endless butter-vs.-margarine war when he patented the latter on July 15, 1869.

Also earning a U.S. patent on this date, in 1879, was the first American “dobby” loom, which Massachusetts inventors Horace Wyman and George Crompton used to weave shapes and patterns into fabrics.

Royal debut: Happy anniversary to The Royal Society (in full, The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge), which was first chartered by King Charles II on July 15, 1662.

Stone faced: The Rosetta Stone – a basalt slab covered in hieroglyphics that would ultimately unlock the whole of ancient Egyptian literature – was discovered in Egypt on this date in 1799, by one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s invading foot soldiers.

Wheels up: Aerospace giant The Boeing Company was founded on July 15, 1916, as Pacific Aero Products Co., by aviation pioneer William Boeing.

And from the Department of Connecting Flights comes the jet age, which unofficially began on this date in 1954, when the four-engine Dash-80 – prototype of the workhorse Boeing 707 passenger plane – made its maiden flight from Seattle’s Boeing Field.

Raiders of the lost Archaea: American microbiologist Carl Woese (1928-2012) – who discovered the Archaea, the single-cell prokaryotic organisms constituting the third domain of life (after Bacteria and Eukarya) – would be 92 years old today.

Never the bride: Linked romantically to Jim Carrey, George Lucas and California Gov. Jerry Brown, Linda Ronstadt never married.

Also born on July 15 were African American educator Maggie Walker (1864-1934), who would become the first female president of a U.S. bank; American nuclear scientist Albert Ghiorso, credited with discovering a world-record 12 different elements; American physicist and Nobel laureate Leon Lederman (1922-2018), who collaborated on the Brookhaven National Laboratory experiment that produced the first artificial neutrino beam; Irish astrophysicist Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1943), who discovered four pulsars; and Greek-American author and publisher Arianna Huffington (born 1950).

Impressive Stadts: And take a bow, Linda Maria Ronstadt! The versatile, long-retired American singer – who racked up 10 Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards and two Academy of Country Music Awards, and added a Primetime Emmy and a National Medal of Arts for good measure – turns 74 today.

Wish Rondstadt and the rest well at And hey, we almost Blue Bayou without reminding you to send us story tips and calendar events – we Don’t Know Much, but we know The Sweetest Gift always comes from you, Somewhere Out There.


About our sponsor: Farrell Fritz, a full-service law firm with 15 practice groups, advises startups on entity formation, founder and shareholder agreements, funding, executive compensation and benefits, licensing and technology transfer, mergers and acquisitions and other strategic transactions. The firm’s blog, New York Venture Hub, discusses legal and business issues facing entrepreneurs and investors.



Plugged in: Fourteen states, including New York, and the District of Columbia will develop an action plan to ramp up the electrification of buses and trucks, with a focus on school buses, transit buses and other municipal fleets.

The fourteen states – as close as New Jersey and Connecticut, as far as California and Hawaii – have signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding that will see them working collaboratively to accelerate the market for electric medium-size and heavy-duty vehicles, including large pickup trucks and vans, delivery trucks, school and transit buses and long-haul delivery trucks. The MOU’s ultimate goal is for all medium-size and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2050, with an interim target of 30 percent zero-emission sales across the participating states by 2030.

“With a lack of federal leadership and an outright failure to follow science, it has fallen to the states to address the climate crisis by working together to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions from all sources,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. “This multi-state agreement furthers the critical leadership roles of the states in combatting climate change and establishes an example for other states to follow.”

Makes sensor: A $200,000 state grant will help keep an eye on Southampton’s Lake Agawam.

Smarter than your average city: Seven New York “smart cities,” including one on Long Island, have earned Empire State Development Corp. stipends to expand on innovative technological solutions to common municipal problems.

The Village of Southampton earned one of the largest rewards in this round of funding through the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership, a collaboration between the ESDC, the Israeli Innovation Authority and the governor’s office designed to connect technology companies and academic experts with municipal leaders throughout the state, with the goal of using emerging technologies to improve government services and quality of life. Southampton (technically a village in the Town of Southampton, and not a city) earned $200,000 toward a groundwater-contamination remediation effort around Lake Agawam, including sanitary system upgrades and the installation of real-time sensors.

Also earning $200,000 was the City of Jamestown in Chautauqua County, which will upgrade thousands of water meters to improve its water-monitoring capabilities. Submissions from municipalities and private companies for the next competitive funding round are due by Sept. 1; more information on the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership, including information on all projects funded to date, available here.



Game theory: A $6 million outdoor gaming investment is part of Albany’s larger effort to keep Jones Beach a staycation destination for all New Yorkers.

Pressing on: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak economic havoc as regional stalwarts Park Aerospace and MSC Industrial post quarterly declines.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Back-to-school conditions, antibody collections and late-night Cuomos – all that and more in your one-and-only, Long Island-themed pandemic primer.



Long Island’s farm stands are more than just a regional summertime treat – they’re the tip of a critical economic iceberg. Our favorite foodie, East End Food Institute Executive Director Kate Fullam, digs in.



You don’t know squat: Beware “typosquatting,” the extinction-level cyberthreat you never heard of. Inc. raises red flags.

Animal instincts: Enter “biomimicry,” the back-to-nature answer to many innovation dilemmas. Eureka goes au natural.

Tell us another: Consider storytelling, the critical innovation tool you never knew you needed. Forbes spins a yarn.



+ Liquid Wire, an Oregon-based liquid-metal circuitry manufacturer, closed a $10 million Series A financing round led by Deerfield Management Co.

+ Rivian, a California-based electric-vehicle manufacturer, closed a $2.5 billion funding round led by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from Soros Fund Management, Coatue, Fidelity Management and Research Co., Baron Capital Group and existing shareholders Amazon and BlackRock.

+ LumiThera, a Washington State-based commercial stage medical-device manufacturer focused on ocular disorders, completed an approximately $14 million Series C funding round led by WaterStar Capital, Imagine Ventures, Keiretsu Capital, Water Star Mercury Fund, Nikon Corporation and Celeste Management.

+ Kindbody, a New York City-based health and technology company providing fertility, gynecology and family-building care, raised $32 million in Series B funding led by Perceptive Advisors, RRE, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Freemark Capital, with participation from new investors Rock Springs Capital, Goodgrower, Claritas Capital and benefits consulting firm NFP.

+ OnlineMedEd, a Texas-based healthcare training company, raised $5 million in funding. Backers included more than 20 physicians, founders and partners of some of the largest physician-owned U.S. practices.

+ The Mom Project, an Illinois-based career-builder for moms, raised $25 million in Series B funding led by growth investment firm 7GC, with participation from Citi, Synchrony, High Alpha, Silicon Valley Bank, Initialized Capital, Grotech Ventures, OCA Ventures, Aspect Ventures, Wintrust Financial, IrishAngels and Engage Ventures.



Icy roads: For ice cream cravers, everything changed in 1938.

Brain freeze: Why you can’t think straight during the pandemic.

Brain froze: Rolling with the ice cream truck, summer’s coolest innovation.

Brain pain: Get out of your head – overthinking is killing your business.

Brain gain: Please continue supporting the amazing firms that support Innovate LI, including Farrell Fritz, where the COVID-19 Crisis Help and Response Team is always a step smarter than the pandemic.