No. 616: Mayan calendars, brave balloonists and instant coffee – plus, the intrepid Vaxmobile rolls on

No. 616: Mayan calendars, brave balloonists and instant coffee – plus, the intrepid Vaxmobile rolls on


No rest for the busy: Welcome to Wednesday, dear reader, as we reach the midpoint of another summery workweek.

It’s Aug. 11 out there, so Happy Flag Day to our readers in Pakistan and Happy Independence Day to our friends in the landlocked African country of Chad. No such holidays here in the States, where we’ve got socioeconomics to innovate. Let’s rock.

We had to look this one up: Domestically, the date is famous (?) for Raspberry Bombe Day, honoring the frozen dessert.

For those keeping score, it’s not pronounced like “bomb” (with the second B silent) or “Bombay” (like the gin). You have to really hit that second B … bomb.

No one’s laughing: Speaking of jokes that miss their mark, Aug. 11 is also National Presidential Joke Day, which used to be funny.

The date that started it all: The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – you know it better as the famous Mayan Calendar, which ended in 2012 but didn’t take the world with it – kicked off on Aug. 11, 3114 BC.

Put a rink on it: Skating ahead a few millennia, quad roller skate inventor James Plimpton and the New York Roller Skating Association converted a hotel dining room into the first U.S. roller rink on this date in 1866.

Instant success: Also on a roll was Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago, who earned the first U.S. patent for instant coffee 118 years ago today.

Other U.S. patents issued on Aug. 11 include one in 1874 for Connecticut inventor Henry Parmelee’s automatic fire sprinkler system, the first to release water upon detecting smoke or excessive heat.

(Not) dead in the water: In other emergency-related news, the “S.O.S.” officially became a thing on this date in 1909, when telegraph operator Theodore Haubner sent the first ship-to-shore wireless distress signal after the SS Arapahoe became disabled off North Carolina.

The Eagle has lifted: And it was Aug. 11, 1978, when the Double Eagle II lifted off from Maine en route to becoming the first hot-air balloon to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

Piloted by adventurers Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman, the craft landed roughly 137 hours later just outside of Paris.

Seeing the forest for the trees: American forester Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946) – the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, 28th governor of Pennsylvania and “father of American conservation” – would be 156 years old today.

Also born on Aug. 11 were English novelist Charlotte Mary Yonge (1823-1901), who greatly influenced the Oxford Movement with best-sellers centered on public health and sanitation; English children’s writer Enid Mary Blyton (1897-1968), whose ageless adventures have been translated into 90 languages; American parapsychologist José Silva (1914-1999), whose self-help mind-control techniques veered into clairvoyance and other psychic fields; British mathematician Tom Kilburn (1921-2001), who led the development of several historically significant computers; and British biophysicist/chemist Sir Aaron Klug (1926-2018), who earned a Noble Prize for advancing the science of crystallographic electron microscopy.

Yes, he Woz: And take a bow, Stephen Gary Wozniak! The American computer programmer, electronics engineer, techpreneur and philanthropist – known best as the co-founder of Apple Inc. – turns 71 today.

Wish the all-time innovator well at, where your news tips and calendar events are the apples of our eye.


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Mobile milestone: With the unvaccinated digging in and nationwide COVID counts spiking again, Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital’s Vaxmobile has rumbled past an historic plateau.

Funded by the federal CARES Act through a Town of Hempstead grant, the Vaxmobile has administered its 5,000th dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The no-appointment-necessary moving clinic, which has offered free vaccinations throughout Hempstead since March, stopped at Hempstead Town Hall Aug. 6, where 17-year-old Spencer Smith of Hewlett received the first dose of his two-dose Pfizer vaccination course, marking the milestone moment for the New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System and its Long Island flagship hospital.

After boarding the handicapped-accessible mobile unit and receiving his shot, the teenager – who enjoyed celebratory cake with the bilingual Vaxmobile crew, including licensed nurses and community health-education professionals – said he was “doing this to keep myself, family and friends safe when I return to school and the high school fall sports season begins.” More information on Long Island’s first mobile COVID vaccination unit available here.

Forward marsh: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has dispatched six Suffolk County Community College interns into the salt marshes of Long Island’s South Shore on an environmental rescue mission.

Armed with measuring tools and various protections against the heat (and nasty biting bugs), the interns – Jessica Cormier, Brendan Lin, Jake Montgomery, Grace Nelson, Kyler Vander Putten and David Ziff – are braving challenging conditions to contribute to a multiyear NFWF effort that surveys fish, invertebrate and plant life and measures water quality. Such data collection is “commonly performed by environmental scientists,” according to Kellie McCartin, the SCCC assistant professor of marine biology who coordinated the NFWF grant funding the summer project.

Select South Shore salt marshes have been sampled weekly by SCCC students since 2017 – including checkups on mosquito-larvae hotspots and testing of water-quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen and salinity – with a federal marsh-restoration effort initiated in 2019 based on their findings. “The students are excited to be in the field,” McCartin noted. “They’re applying what they’ve learned in the classroom … and it is a fantastic experience for any student interested in a career in the sciences.”



Good listening: Clean energy? Check. Academic breakthroughs? Yep. Tech commercialization? You betcha. Marketing insights, construction advancements and workforce modernization? Yes, yes and yes. Season 1 of Spark: The Innovate Long Island Podcast had it all. Catch up today.



Winging it: Plainview-based Acupath Laboratories is now providing rapid COVID-19 testing for travelers heading to dozens of international destinations.

Head in the sand: And toes in the water, as Stony Brook University unveils a unique app providing real-time data on Island-wide beach and water conditions.

Try and keep up: Did you hear about those cool innovators with the hot new thing? You would’ve, with an Innovate Long Island newsletter subscription – always easy, always free.



Suffolk County has joined other New York State regions in the Double Up Food Bucks program, which increases government SNAP benefits exclusively for the purchase of locally grown fruits and vegetables – useful to the food insecure and to Long Island farmers, according to Voices food-and-beverage boss Kate Fullam.



Stepping up: Even ambitious hard workers will be passed over for promotions, unless they do this. Three essentials from Fast Co.

Stepping back: With only 4,000 weeks per lifetime, pressuring ourselves to achieve can create a “productivity trap.” Calming advice from the BBC.

Stepping in: New York’s new governor is a longtime public servant, the first woman to hold the office and anything but a seat-filler. Hochul’s impressive curriculum vitae, courtesy of Politico.



+ Encellin, a California-based biotech developing cell-based approaches to regenerative medicine, raised $5.9 million in seed financing co-led by Khosla Ventures and SV Latam Capital, with participation from Sandhill Angels and Y Combinator.

+ Codelicious, a Massachusetts-based computer-science curriculum platform, raised $3.8 million in seed funding led by EduLab Capital Partners and Allos Ventures, with participation from Sixty8 Capital, GRE Capital and Elevate Ventures.

+ Localize, a New York City-based developer of AI-powered real estate technologies, raised $25 million in Series C financing led by Pitango Growth, with participation from Mizrahi-Tefahot and existing investors.

+ NuScale Power, an Oregon-based nuclear-technology company, raised $192 million in strategic funding. Backers included GS Energy, Doosan Heavy Industry and Construction, IHI Corp., Samsung C&T Corp., Sargent & Lundy and Sarens.

+ ZeroEyes, the Pennsylvania-based provider of an AI-powered weapons-detection solution, raised $20.9 million in Series A funding led by Octave Ventures, with participation from Legion Capital, Grateful Investments, Alliance Holdings and Alpha Intelligence Capital.

+ ZenLedger, a Washington State-based cryptocurrency-tax and blockchain-analytics startup, raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Bloccelerate VC, with participation from Radical Ventures, G1 VC, Borderless Capital, 4RC, Centrality, BIGG Digital Assets, CoinGecko and Accelerator Ventures, among others.


BELOW THE FOLD (Makes Senses Edition)

Sight: How James Bond’s invisible car became a reality.

Smell: Ikea is gifting candles scented like their Swedish meatballs.

Sound: How background music has energized online casino gaming.

Touch: Please continue supporting the amazing firms that support Innovate Long Island, including Sahn Ward, which has a real feel for your land-use needs (and is very familiar with the sweet taste of success). Check them out.

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