No. 699: In which we vulcanize rubber, rock lobsters and show some spectacular spider sense


Full throttle: Holy guacamole, dear readers – this late-spring workweek and the entire month of June are already half over!

That makes it Wednesday, June 15, and we’re pouring it on as we speed into the latter half of the week and the month. Try to keep up!

Cheeky: On second thought, no teeth required on National Smile Power Day.

This means you: We start with a worldwide observance that should be of increasing interest to Long Island stakeholders – Global Wind Day, an annual June 15 celebration of wind energy’s renewable power and net-zero promise.

Show some teeth: Speaking of renewable energy, today is National Smile Power Day, when the vitality of a good grin holds sway.

If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, this surely will: June 15 is also National Lobster Day (pass the butter, please).

Regnat populus: Not sure if lobster’s on the menu, but we expect lots of smiles today from our many our readers in Arkansas, which became the 25th U.S. state on this date in 1836.

Vulcanized: No, no, no.

Long, hard road: Self-taught American chemist and engineer Charles Goodyear was all smiles when he patented vulcanized rubber on this date in 1844, protecting his process for hardening rubber with high-temperature sulfur – still the most common practice.

Officer material: Also grinning ear-to-ear was Henry Ossian Flipper, the son of U.S. slaves who became the first African American to graduate from the West Point Military Academy on this date in 1877.

Redeye to County Galway: Definitely smiling, with great relief, were British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown, who completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight on this date in 1919.

The daring duo landed their modified WWI Vickers Vimy bomber in Ireland at about 8:40 a.m., following a dark and bumpy 16-hour flight from Newfoundland.

Yo, eleven! And surely you’ve found some smiles on New York’s beloved Channel 11, the longtime home of Ed Norton, Rod Serling, Cosmo Kramer, Kaity Tong and many other favorites that first broadcasted on this date in 1948.

Now owned by Texas-based Mission Broadcasting, the independent station was founded by Chicago-based corporate parent Tribune Company and its New York Daily News subsidiary – “New York’s Picture Newspaper,” influencing WPIX’s memorable call letters.

Complicated legacy: German physiologist and medical researcher Hubertus Strughold (1898-1986) – whose name sounds like the name of a maniacal Nazi war criminal, and it was, until he became NASA’s “father of space medicine” – would be 124 years old today.

Talent Cubed: A good day for O’Shea.

Also born on June 15 were American railroad magnate and philanthropist William Ogden (1805-1877), the first mayor of Chicago; American amateur golfer Margaret Ives Abbott (1878-1955), the first U.S. woman to become an Olympic champion; English Anglican minister, railway enthusiast and children’s author Wilbert Awdry (1911-1997), who created “Thomas the Tank Engine” and friends; Nobel Prize-winning American social scientist Herbert Simon (1916-2001), a pioneer of artificial intelligence; and American lawyer and politician Mario Cuomo (1932-2015), whose defining political moment was his stirring keynote of the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

Cool customer: And take a bow, O’Shea Jackson Sr.! The American rapper, lyricist, actor, record producer and filmmaker – who shot Straight Outta Compton and straight to the top as Ice Cube – turns 53 today.

Give the founder of Hollywood production company Cube Vision your best at, where production comes to a screeching halt without your news tips and calendar events.


About our sponsor: SUNY Old Westbury empowers students to own the future they want for themselves. In a small college atmosphere and as part of the dynamic, diverse student body that today is 5,000 strong, students at Old Westbury get up close and personal with the life and career they want to pursue. Whether it’s a cutting-edge graduate program in data analytics, highly respected programs in accounting and computer information sciences, or any of the more than 70 degrees available, a SUNY Old Westbury education will set students on a course towards success. Own your future.



Dark web: New Stony Brook University research draws a sinister connection between two of recent history’s darkest dots: COVID and 9/11.

A study of 1,280 COVID-19 patients treated through the Stony Brook World Trade Center Health and Wellness Program showed 9/11 responders suffering chronic conditions from Ground Zero exposures largely experienced worse COVID infections – including stronger and longer-term symptoms and other complications – compared to first responders without chronic conditions. The study, led by WTC Health and Wellness Program Director Benjamin Luft, was detailed last week in the open-access, peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Understanding how and why chronically ill 9/11 responders react to COVID “alerts us to even more problems they may face in the future,” according to Luft, the lead author of eight on the study, representing SBU’s Renaissance School of Medicine and the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Illinois. “Our findings point toward the need to monitor these chronically ill patients … even more closely.”

Southern discomfort: Um, that looks bigger than three-quarters of an inch.

Does whatever a spider can: Hofstra University psychology researchers are offering free therapy – featuring real creepy crawlers – to help victims of arachnophobia overcome their abnormal fear of spiders (the clinical definition, not necessarily ours).

William Sanderson III, a doctoral student in Hofstra’s Clinical Psychology Program, and Professor of Psychology Mitchell Schare are conducting a dual study, testing “exposure-based therapy treatments” designed to help clients overcome their eight-legged fears while simultaneously measuring the effectiveness of exposure-based therapeutic sessions conducted remotely via videoconferencing, an idea that stemmed from the COVID pandemic. Essentially, researchers watch and interact remotely while clients spend alone time with Kukulcania hibernalis – aka southern house spiders, common critters across the Southern U.S. that grow as big as three-quarters of an inch and are contained here inside clear containers.

Participants will have a chance to release and even physically handle the spiders – but only if they choose to do so, according to the researchers. The two-headed scientific study, performed inside Hofstra’s Phobia and Trauma Clinic, is slated to run for six weeks this summer, with participation by appointment only; for more information, e-mail Sanderson at



Episode 17: Renee Flagler, girl stuff.

Mark your calendars, dear listeners … Season 3 of “Spark: The Innovate Long Island Podcast” arrives June 29!

We’re super-excited to welcome a living legend of regional energy and economics to kick off our third round of entertaining and educational conversations with the leaders of Long Island’s innovation economy. If you heard Seasons 1 and 2, you get why it’s great – if you haven’t, now’s your chance.



Cutting Edgewise: A cleantech startup-turned-business consultancy is a key player in plans for Long Island’s first-ever residential fuel-cell farm.

Access granted: SUNY’s interim chancellor is encouraging collegians to jump on new federal grants covering high-speed Internet access.

Direct deposit: Always-easy, always-free subscriptions to this engaging newsletter are like intellectual interest on your cerebral savings account, compounded in your inbox three times a week. Open the brain bank.



Forward-thinking food-and-beverage anchor David Hamilton takes a stroll around Long Island’s unique farmer’s markets – the consumer’s best shot at fresh organic and specialty foods and a vital cog in the regional socioeconomic engine, according to the interim boss of Stony Brook University’s Food Business Incubator at Calverton.



Feel the burnout: Finding a new job doesn’t have to be another exhausting item on your endless to-do list. Vox rides to the rescue.

Do you derealize? If you often question reality, you may be deeply delusional – or profoundly insightful. Scientific American gets to the point.

Nailed it: Behold, the Rechargeable Professional Dog Nail Grinder – just one of the year’s best pet-care innovations. Digital Journal cuts to the quick.



+ Just Women’s Sports, a California-based media platform, raised $6 million in funding led by Blue Pool Capital, Joe Tsai’s family office, Billie Jean King, Michele Kang, Bolt Ventures and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

+ Codat, a New York City-based universal API for small-business data, raised $100 million in series C funding led by JP Morgan Growth Equity Partners, Canapi Ventures and Shopify, with participation from existing investors Index Ventures and PayPal Ventures.

+ Agilitas Energy, a Massachusetts-based distributed-energy and solar-photovoltaic manufacturer/distributor/manager, raised $350 million in equity funding, led by CarVal Investors.

+ Mineralys Therapeutics, a Pennsylvania-based clinical-stage biopharma developing novel hypertension therapies, closed a $118 million Series B financing led by RA Capital Management, Andera Partners, RTW Investments, Rock Springs Capital and SR One Capital Management.

+ Encamp, an Indiana-based enterprise-tech startup focused on environmental-compliance data management, raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Drive Capital, OpenView, High Alpha Capital and Allos Ventures.

+ Ion Storage Systems, a Maryland-based lithium-battery manufacturer, raised $30 million in Series A funding led by Toyota Ventures, Tenaska, Bangchak Corp., GAINTECH Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, Z2Sixty Ventures, Climate Capital and the University of Maryland Discovery Fund.


Like this newsletter? Innovate Long Island newsletter, website and podcast sponsorships are a prime opportunity to reach the inventors, investors, entrepreneurs and executives you need to know (just ask SUNY Old Westbury). Marlene McDonnell can tell you more.


BELOW THE FOLD (Full Moon Edition)

Super-secret: Our mysterious moon still has plenty of stories to tell.

First person: Sometimes the moon looks close, sometimes far away, and you’re why.

Second chances: Don’t worry if you missed last night’s “strawberry supermoon” – there are three more coming.

Third-and-a-half-rock: Why the backstory of Earth’s only natural satellite (or is it?) is still being written.

Fourth gear: Please continue supporting the amazing institutions that support Innovate Long Island, including SUNY Old Westbury, which sends students speeding along the road to academic, personal and professional success. Check them out.



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