No. 556: On missing links, adventurous socialites and phased inoculations – and partying with Jett and Joel

Bay watch: Part tunnel, part bridge and one big engineering nightmare, the $17 billion Tokyo Bay Aqualine opened to traffic 23 years ago today.


Winter wonderland: You had Friday on your mind, dear readers, and neither school closures, power outages nor blizzard-like conditions were going to stop you – and now here you are, on the brink of an especially well-earned weekend.

It’s Dec. 18 out there, and as we wrap up another week of socioeconomic innovation, let us be the first to offer you mabrook – that’s “congratulations” in Arabic (phonetically), apropos on the U.N.’s World Arabic Language Day.

Wax on: Trump and Merkel, getting their ugly on.

Avert your eyes: Here in the States, the third Friday of December also brings National Ugly Sweater Day. Sorry.

It’s also Bake Cookies Day, celebrated this and every Dec. 18, so that helps.

The mother of all conspiracy theories: Beloved childhood favorite Mother Goose traces her publication history to “Songs for the Nursery, or Mother Goose’s Melodies,” published on Dec. 18, 1719, by Thomas Fleet of Boston – or does she?

Bitter Pilt: Heralded as the missing link between ape and man, ultimately unmasked as one of history’s great frauds, the discovery of the infamous Piltdown Man fossil was announced 108 years ago today.

Cub scout: Harkness and friend, arriving in San Francisco.

Bring ’em back alive: Young and, by all accounts, fearless Manhattan socialite Ruth Harkness returned from a Tibetan expedition on this date in 1936, carrying in her arms the first living giant panda to reach America.

Harkness had told the Chinese authorities operating her steamship that she was transporting a small dog; the panda cub and the young adventurer would become a smash hit.

Secret mission: NASA one-upped the Soviet Union in the Space Race on Dec. 18, 1958, when it put the world’s first communications satellite into orbit.

True story: The launch of the Atlas B rocket carrying the tech into low Earth orbit was disguised to look like an intercontinental ballistic missile test gone awry.

The Chiba connection: And it was this date in 1997 when the Tokyo Bay Aqualine – combining a 4-kilometer bridge, a 9-kilometer underwater tunnel and two manmade islands, among other innovations – opened to traffic crossing Tokyo Bay.

Connecting the cities of Kawasaki (Kanagawa Prefecture) and Kisarazu (Chiba Prefecture), the over/undersea toll highway cost $17 billion and took a decade to design and build.

No static at all: Influential American electrical engineer Edwin Armstrong (1890-1954), remembered as one of the 20th century’s great innovators for developing the technology behind frequency modulation radio, would be 130 years old today.

Willing and Grable: Betty, brightening the B-17 bomber Sentimental Journey.

Also born on Dec. 18 were 17th/18th century Swedish engineer Christopher Polhem (born Christopher Polhammer, 1661-1751), who pioneered water-powered machinery; 19th century British physicist J.J. Thomson (1856-1940), who discovered the electron; 20th century “master builder” Robert Moses (1888-1981), who helped define Long Island; Silver Screen icon Betty Grable (1916-1973), who graced Air Force bombers and grossed more than $100 million at the box office; and undead English rocker Keith Richards (born 1943), still defying medical science.

Amblin man: And take a bow, Steven Allan Spielberg! Among the founding pioneers of the 1960s-1980s New Hollywood era and one of the most popular filmmakers of any generation, the two-time Academy Award-winner turns 74 today.

Have some Close Encounters with these and all the other Dec. 18 innovators at, where you can make Jaws drop, add to Schindler’s List, Save Private Ryan and help E.T. phone home with story tips and calendar events – in The Color Purple, or whatever color you like.


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I spy: Zachary Singleton, going places.

The Singleton Covenant: In a world where cyberterrorists threaten American sovereignty and security, a covert Defense Department recruitment program will sink its claws into a young Long Island IT genius and mold him into a 21st century cyber warrior on the edge – the last, best hope for a nation under siege…

OK, cut. It’s not that theatric. But Zachary Singleton – a Longwood High School graduate who earned an associate’s degree in cybersecurity (2018) at Suffolk County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in information technology (2020) at the New York Institute of Technology’s Westbury-based College of Engineering and Computing Sciences – has landed a prestigious U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship, part of a DoD recruitment effort aimed at fostering the next generation of national security professionals.

The Ridge native will apply the scholarship to his continuing studies at NYIT – he’s now pursuing a master’s degree in cybersecurity – and will later “perform a service obligation with the DoD as a civilian employee,” according to SUNY Suffolk. “Zach was in my cybersecurity fundamentals and networking courses … he was a team player and collaborated well with the other students,” noted SCCC instructor and Associate Dean Faranak Afshar. “I am sure that he will be very successful in his career.”

Tesla teaser: New footage from inside Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe laboratory showcases everything from the North Shore lab’s unique beauty to its scientific functionality to its current dilapidated condition.

Released by the Shoreham-based Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, a new video by tech-themed web hub The Verge, titled “Quest for Nikola Tesla’s Wireless Power Technology,” includes several looks inside the laboratory, highlighting its metal beams and vintage fixtures, an on-site photo-processing plant and even the graffiti that’s come to cover its interior walls in the decades since the Serbian scientist lustily pursued wireless power.

The 10-minute video – which also includes photographs of the lab in its prime and follows the evolution of wireless power to its current dynamic state – debuts in concert with a $20 million Tesla Science Center fundraising effort backing the “extensive restoration” of Tesla’s one-time workshop. The proposed renovations include returning the lab to its former glories and the much-needed demolition of crumbling, non-historic structures on the laboratory site, which are in imminent danger of damaging the laboratory itself.



Master plan: Northwell Health leads on Long Island as 10 Regional Vaccination Hubs plan out orderly New York State inoculations.

Let’s see that again: The pandemic has fritzed the biannual Long Island Music Hall of Fame inductions, but the hall will still entertain fans on New Year’s Eve.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Albany directs New York insurers to cover COVID-19 vaccinations – learn more as Long Island’s one-and-only pandemic primer settles in for a long winter.



Saving the saviors of COVID-19, completing the gauntlet of CEBIP.



Innovate LI’s inbox overrunneth with inspirational innovations from all North American corners. This week’s brightest out-of-towners:

From Colorado: The Boulder-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launches a crowdsourcing competition targeting geomagnetic storms.

From North Carolina: Charlotte-based “scent marketing” trailblazer ScentAir launches bipolar ionization-powered air-purifying system.

From California: San Jose-based fine-art futurist MORF Gallery showcases paintings, sculptures and more with interactive online gallery.



Jarvis Watson

+ Jarvis Watson has been elected to the Ronkonkoma-based Association for Mental Health and Wellness Board of Directors. He serves as the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at The School of Visual Arts in New York City.

+ Todd DeLuca has been promoted to partner at Uniondale-based Margolin Winer & Evens. He previously served as a staff accountant.

+ Susan Helsinger has been installed as president of the Long Island Board of Realtors. She is an associate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Merrick.

+ Desiree Williams Wells has joined Nassau BOCES Barry Tech, in the Joseph M. Barry Career and Technical Education Center, as assistant principal. She previously served as assistant principal for the Western Suffolk BOCES summer school program.



Trust me: Does hirsute equal astute? Maybe.

Weird science: An annum of scientific oddities worthy of 2020.

Beard science: Researchers say customers trust bearded salesmen more than others.

Yeared science: Fifty-plus New Year’s resolutions you can actually achieve.

Geared science: One eye on the latest regulatory requirements, the other on your success and both hands on the controls – that’s the Town of Islip Office of Economic Development, one of the amazing organizations that support Innovate LI. Check them out.