No. 533: On Donkey Kong, Arctic atmospheres and Neptune – plus, Hollywood on the North Shore

Big blue marble: Neptune was discovered on Sept. 23, 1846, by German astronomer Johann Galle -- or was it?


Fall for you: Rejoice, autumnal aficionados – the season of plunging temperatures, pumpkin-spice everything and full-on political dementia has arrived.

Spice of life: Please, make it stop.

Yes, it’s Sept. 23 on Long Island and around Planet Earth – not only the Wednesday midpoint of this latest busy workweek, but the first full day of Fall 2020. So grab a sweater and let’s rock.

Stick it to them: Don’t be a jerky. Actually, go ahead – Sept. 23 is National Snack Stick Day.

Get your kicks: Today is also Restless Legs Awareness Day, promoting better understanding of the nefarious nervous condition – known also as Willis-Ekbom disease, and no joke if you suffer through it.

The old, old ballgame: Speaking of legging them out, the Knickerbocker rules – as developed by baseball inventor (maybe) Alexander Cartwright – were introduced on Sept. 23, 1845, and adopted by the pioneering New York Knickerbockers.

Galle warning: German astronomer Johann Galle officially discovered the planet Neptune 174 years ago today.

However, astronomers still debate whether the eighth and farthest-known planet in the Solar System was actually discovered by Galle or Italian legend Galileo Galilei.

Now hear this: Among the world’s first hearing aids, the audiophone was patented by creative American publisher Richard Rhodes on Sept. 23, 1879.

Also patented on this date, in 1930, were German inventor Johannes Ostermeier’s “Improvements in Flash Lights Used for Photographic Purposes,” a big step toward the modern flash bulb.

Frustration level: That damned elevator board, and the rest of Donkey Kong and mighty Nintendo, hit start 131 years ago today.

Card shark: Long before Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda, there was Japanese playing card company Nintendo Koppai, founded on Sept. 23, 1889, and still going strong as the massive Nintendo Corp.

Time tunnel: And it was this date in 1938, just months before the start of the 1939-40 World’s Fair, when a large cement cylinder – believed to be history’s very first time capsule – was buried in Flushing Meadow Park.

The Queens capsule – containing one U.S. dollar in change, a woman’s hat, a copy of Life magazine and some 1,100 feet of microfilm, among other treasures – was joined by a second cement cylinder buried in 1965, wrapping up the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The capsules are slated to be opened in 5,000 years.

Way before her time: American civil rights activist and social reformer Victoria Woodhull Martin (born Victoria California Claflin, 1838-1927) – a leader of the women’s suffrage movement and the first woman to run for U.S. president – would be 182 years old today.

Brother Ray: Blinded as a child by glaucoma, Charles soared.

Also born on Sept. 23 were American surgeon William Halsted (1852-1922), who established the first U.S. surgical school; German industrialist Robert Bosch (1861-1942), whose team of automotive engineers invented the spark plug; Scottish biologist Sir John Boyd Orr (1880-1971), a Nobel Prize laureate remembered for battling global malnutrition; American singer, songwriter, pianist and composer Ray Charles (born Ray Charles Robinson, 1930-2004); and New Jersey-born rocker Bruce Springsteen (born 1949).

Hard pressed: And take a bow, Sean Michael Spicer – the truth-challenged White House press secretary-turned-“Dancing With the Stars” sideshow is 49 today.

Wish the infamous spokesperson, the champion of American civil rights and all the Sept. 23 innovators in between a happy birthday at Story tips and calendar events also welcome, but the president will not be taking questions today.


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Lasting impression: The SUNY Board of Trustees has appointed the Rev. Calvin Butts III as president emeritus of the State University of New York at Old Westbury, just months after the longtime president stepped down.

The trustees made the appointment at their Sept. 15 meeting, citing Butts’ “20 years of distinguished service to the college.” Among the feathers in the president emeritus’ mortarboard: the longest tenure of any SUNY Old Westbury president, impressive growth in both faculty and student enrollment and more than $200 million in capital improvements.

Upon the outgoing president’s retirement earlier this year, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said Butts “led a rebuilding of SUNY Old Westbury” that focused on infrastructure, diversity and other critical factors. “More importantly, he has inspired a generation of students passing through Old Westbury to earn their degree and has created of culture of community service,” Malatras added. “We thank him for his years of service to SUNY.”

Dig it: Wygal, down under.

Woolly bully: Two years after making an historic ice-age find in Alaska, two Adelphi University researchers are getting their Upper Paleolithic on for a decidedly 21st century virtual presentation.

Brian Wygal and Kathryn Krasinski – associate and assistant anthropology professors, respectively, at the Garden City university – led a 2016 Alaskan expedition that unearthed the virtually complete tusk of a 14,000-year-old woolly mammoth. The previous owner is believed to be among the last mammoths to roam the Alaskan mainland, before the species was undone by a 10,000-year period of global warming (but not before its dwindling numbers made good game for innovative early humans).

Joined by experts from the Adelphi Honors College, the University of Alaska and the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks-based Museum of the North, Wygal and Krasinski will update viewers on the find’s significance in a public zoom presentation scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Sept. 28. Pre-registration is required and the event will be recorded and stashed online for those observing Yom Kippur.



The air up there: The National Science Foundation is fueling a series of high-tech research flights that will send SBU atmospheric experts into the wild blue yonder.

That’s Hollywood: No, that’s Port Washington – but thanks to the Nassau County IDA, it’s a little harder to tell the difference.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Concerned pediatricians, unconcerned collegians and unmasked strippers – everyone’s welcome in Long Island’s one-and-only pandemic primer.



The TikTok saga continues – and it’s about a lot more than just one company, notes media maestro David Chauvin, who explains how social media (and the world) have already been changed forever.



Ascription for success: In-person leadership skills don’t always translate in a remote world – Inc. introduces the better virtual boss.

Pollution powers: Congress is considering the Clean Energy Jobs and Innovation Act – the Environmental Defense Fund breaks it down.

Scientific evidence: Real scientific data and rigorous research create innovative and efficient government policies – and the Pew Charitable Trusts can prove it.



+ Palleon Pharmaceuticals, a Massachusetts-based biotech pioneering the field of glycan-mediated immune regulation to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases, completed a $100 million Series B financing round led by Matrix Capital Management, with participation from SR One, Pfizer Ventures, Vertex Ventures HC, Takeda Ventures, AbbVie Ventures and Surveyor Capital.

+ Base, a New York City-based app-maker focused on at-home testing and digital tracking, secured $1 million in pre-seed funding led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Lakehouse, AmplifyHer Ventures, K50 and angel investors.

+ Stemson Therapeutics, a California-based maker of a therapeutic hair-loss solution, raised $7.5 million in seed financing led by Allergan Aesthetics and Fortunis Capital.

+ JupiterOne, a North Carolina-based cyber security company, raised $19 million in Series A venture capital funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, with participation from Rain Capital, LifeOmic and individual investors.

+ Olive, an Ohio-based AI healthcare platform, secured $106 million in financing led by an equity investment from General Catalyst and Drive Capital, along with Ascension Ventures, Oak HC/FT and SVB Capital.

+ nTopology, an NYC-based provider of an aerospace, automotive, medical and consumer-industries engineering-design platform, raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Insight Partners, joined by Grant Verstandig and existing venture partners Root, Canaan, DCVC and Haystack.


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End-to-end: Why banks are innovating the entire customer experience.

Finer vend: Brand-name facemasks, now from a vending machine.

Feierabend: Germans know how to end the workday right.

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