Ridesharing: Private Residential Shuttles Should be Converted to Public Transit

Access to transit is a major selling point for real estate developments. In Hoboken, New Jersey an increasing number of residential buildings offer shuttles to the city’s main transit hub. These shuttles can streamline trips with luggage or strollers, and keep people dry during rainstorms, or warm in winter, but they also contribute to congestion on Hoboken’s Streets, aren’t open to everyone, and draw people away who might otherwise ride The Hop, Hoboken’s municipal shuttle. NJ.com reported that 2015 expenses for the Hop totaled $332,000, with a fare box recovery of $74,335, or 22%. That’s dismally low for a city in which 57.6% of residents use public transit, the highest percentage in the country.

Hoboken could make the Hop into an indispensable, hyperlocal transit backbone with expanded service, and an iconic fleet.

Hoboken could make the Hop into an indispensable, hyperlocal transit backbone with expanded service, and an iconic fleet.

Reimagined Hop service that is more frequent, reaches the residential developments that currently run private shuttles, and has extended operating hours beyond the current 7AM-8PM service could get real estate developments out of the business of running overlapping, redundant transit services, cut congestion on Hoboken’s streets, and provide significant benefits to both the general public and the residents of these developments. Continues…

Regional Transit Diagram: Good Start, but New York & New Jersey Need a Better Transit User Experience

In 2013, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit, and Port Authority of New York & New Jersey released a Regional Transit Diagram–dubbed the first of its kind for the region–to help fans and media visiting for Super Bowl XLVIII in early 2014. The diagram was designed by Yoshiki Waterhouse of Vignelli Associates, in a style reminiscent of the 1972 subway map designed by Massimo Vignelli. It depicts the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North in Manhattan below 96th Street, and PATH, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Newark Light Rail, and NJ Transit passenger rail service in Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, and adjoining areas in New Jersey.

Regional Transit Diagram

Regional Transit Diagram

The Regional Transit Diagram represents the kind of collaboration that’s sorely needed among the key agencies for the nation’s most transit-rich region, but the diagram suffers from some limitations that show us why we need a better transit user experience. Continues…

Hudson Place: A New Public Plaza at Hoboken Terminal

Imagine stepping off your bus, ferry, or train at Hoboken Terminal and onto a new public plaza at Hudson Place. From spring to fall, you can shop at the downtown farmers’ market, and enjoy expanded outdoor seating at adjacent restaurants and bars. A pop-up holiday market brings cheer to the cold winter months. Year-round, Hoboken has a safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

Hudson Place Pedestrian Plaza

Year-round, Hoboken has a new, safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

It’s possible, if Hudson Place is closed to traffic between Hudson and River Streets. Creating the Hudson Place public plaza improves safety for the tens of thousands of pedestrians who use mass transit at Hoboken Terminal, and creates a better environment for the local businesses that depend on foot traffic. It improves transit access and traffic flow on the surrounding streets, provides safer space to drop off and pick up transit riders, and increases bicycle and vehicle parking. It is the result of a yearlong study of traffic patterns, pedestrian volumes, sidewalk infrastructure, and development plans for southeast Hoboken. Continues…

Skysight: The Story of SOFIA, NASA & DLR’s Space Telescope in a 747

I wrote and directed a documentary on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an airborne telescope built by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). It was filmed on site at NASA Ames Research Center in Northern California.


SOFIA’s 100-inch telescope is the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope, and from 45,000 feet above the Earth’s surface, it can detect infrared light that’s invisible to ground-based telescopes. Because it returns to the ground after each observation mission, SOFIA gives scientists flexibility to change equipment and location, depending on what they’re observing. For instance, while SOFIA is based in California, the 747 spends several weeks based in New Zealand to observe the universe from the southern hemisphere.

The documentary was the centerpiece of a multi-year project to create educational materials that show how spectroscopy, the study of light interaction with matter, impacts everyday life. Consumer, industrial, medical, and scientific applications are highlighted, and each example leads to an in-depth description of the underlying science, along with study questions to facilitate individual comprehension and classroom discussion.

The project was funded by the NASA National Space Grant Program, featured in the journals Science and Chemistry International, and used by universities, research institutes, and companies in 20 countries.

Detecting Wildfires and Weather Conditions Using Thermal Infrared Imaging

Any object will emit some infrared radiation (IR), depending how hot it is and what type of material it is made from. This phenomenon allows us to see things that are not otherwise visible to the unassisted human eye. Thermal infrared imaging is used by NASA for earth bound satellite observation, and by meteorological satellites, which can see through various weather conditions, and detect differences in temperature between clouds, sea and land. The image on the left shows two photos side by side. The left image is a visible light photo of the 1998 Yellowstone National Park fire. On the right is a thermal satellite image, which can “see” through the smoke to show extremely hot regions of land where fires are burning. This can help firefighting crews focus their efforts, including evacuation procedures, fire containment lines, and airdrops of water and flame retardants.

1998 Yellowstone Fire: Visible vs. Infrared

Infrared light is used in other everyday applications including toaster ovens, broilers, night-vision, and F.L.I.R. (forward looking infra-red). In the science lab, organic molecules can be identified using infrared spectrophotometry, because IR radiation causes distinct functional groups to vibrate at various frequencies, allowing scientists to identify them. Infrared (IR) causes polar molecules to undergo bond vibration. This vibration causes material to become hot, which is why you feel hot when in strong sunshine.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Introduced in the early 1980s, MRI has been called one of the greatest medical achievements since the development of X-ray imaging techniques. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is fundamentally the same as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the analysis technique based on radio waves that is widely used in chemical analysis. The primary advantage of MRI is that it is a non-invasive technique and unlike CT scans it does not use X-rays which may pose the risk of radiation injury. Like proton NMR, MRI allows three-dimensional images of the soft tissue in the brain, eyes and spinal column to be produced by applying radio-frequency (RF) waves to water molecules present in soft tissue, which line up in an applied magnetic field. While in the magnetic field, the subject under examination can be irradiated with RF from multiple angles to produce a three dimensional “illustration.” MRI can also be used to image blood vessels and provide insight into the chemical components of selected tissues.

fMRI or functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a new technique which employs MRI to measure the hemodynamic response (changes in blood oxygenation and flow) that correlates to neural activity in regions of the brain. Because of its ability to give researchers quantitative information about how the brain responds to stimuli, fMRI is emerging as a strong complement to the self-reporting of thought and emotional response by research subjects. Martin Paulus, a neuroscience researcher at the University of California, San Diego is using fMRI to study the potential for clinically important predictions in medicine.

Materials Science (and Comedy) with Microscopy

Perhaps the ultimate example of science making its way into everyday life: Microscopy is mentioned in an episode of the NBC sitcom Frasier.

Roger: [v.o.] Well, I had a really good year. I decided hey, why not reward myself? So I bought what I really wanted – a forty-eight foot cabin cruiser. Want to know how much it cost me? I’ll tell you how much it cost me: three hundred grand, not to mention the twenty thou for the custom teak decking. Now, here’s my problem: the wife wants to call this incredible vessel Lulubelle, after her mother. Lulubelle! So I say, “no, we call it the Intrepid.” So what do you think it should be called? Lulubelle or the Intrepid?

Frasier: [after a beat] Roger, at Cornell University they have an incredible piece of scientific equipment known as the tunneling electron microscope. Now, this microscope is so powerful that by firing electrons you can actually see images of the atom, the infinitesimally minute building blocks of our universe. Roger, if I were using that microscope right now… I still wouldn’t be able to locate my interest in your problem. Thank you for your call.

Modern microscopy is a very important tool in many scientific fields, particularly in materials science. Techniques include Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Each of these techniques gives the scientist different information about their sample. SEM is by far the most widely used form of microscopy. Why is it so much better than the visible light microscope?

Electron microscopy is a result of the wave behavior of accelerated electrons. The visible light wavelengths are from 4,000 to 7,000 Angstroms, while electrons accelerated to 10,000 KeV have a wavelength of 0.12 Angstroms. This huge difference in the wavelengths of the light mean that generally, electron microscopes can resolve much smaller details on a sample surface than light microscopes. The diffraction of light limits the resolution of optical microscopes to 1000x magnification, but electron microscopes, which are not affected by visible light, are limited to 1,000,000x magnification. Scanning electron microscope resolutions are currently limited to around 25 Angstroms. Because of the abilities of modern electron microscopes, it is possible to generate accurate representations of the surfaces and structures of matter as small as a few microns in size.

Microwaves Heat Your Food, But Not Your Plate

Microwaves are a form of low energy radiation that cause polar molecules like water to rotate rapidly, causing frictional heating. The microwave oven was designed to take advantage of the the absorption of microwaves by water molecules, which causes the water molecules to undergo rapid rotation, creating a lot of friction that heats up the food and causes it to cook. in the absence of microwave radiation, polar molecules like water tend to rotate randomly. The sine wave nature of microwave radiation makes the molecules oscillate back and forth, and as the energy of the microwaves increases, the water molecules oscillate more rapidly. In a typical microwave, this is on the order of 2450 million oscillations per second.

A popular misconception is that microwaves cause food to cook from the inside out. This is not true, since microwaves can only penetrate a few millimeters into food, depending on its density. This is where cooking actually begins, and the heat travels into the food gradually. Very dense foods, or poor conductors of heat may not actually fully cook in the center.

The device inside a microwave oven that generates microwave radiation is called a magnetron, and as with many scientific discoveries, its ability to cook food was discovered by accident. In the 1940s, the American engineer and physicist Percy Spencer was working with defense contractor Raytheon to produce combat radar equipment to be used in WWII. One day, while working near an active magnetron, he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had melted. Spencer was not the first to notice this phenomenon, but he was the first to investigate it with additional foods, including popcorn and an egg. Later, he built the first microwave oven by attaching a magnetron to an enclosed metal box, and continued to perform experiments with various other food items. Spencer filed a patent application on October 8, 1945, and the first commercially produced oven was made available in 1947.


Ultraviolet (UV) causes sunburn. Ultraviolet/Visible spectrophotometry is used primarily to identify how much (quantitative analysis) of a substance is present, usually in a solution. The color absorbances are used with the Beer-Lambert Law. X-rays can cause ionization by actually removing an electron from the atom. They have a lot of energy, enough to travel right through the body, so they are used to see inside the body for CT scans and X-rays. X-ray spectroscopy is used in surface science or materials science to analyze the top few atomic layers of a substance to determine chemically what elements are present, as well as the chemical structure.

National Science Education Standards

This curriculum meets the following National Science Education Standards, as set forth by the National Academies. This project is based on the idea that building a network of people is critical for the long-term and sustainable success of technology in teaching and learning.

Science Program Standard B
The program of study in science for all students should be developmentally appropriate, interesting, and relevant to students’ lives; emphasize student understanding through inquiry; and be connected with other school subjects.

  1. The program of study should include all of the content standards.
  2. Science content must be embedded in a variety of curriculum patterns that are developmentally appropriate, interesting, and relevant to students’ lives.
  3. The program of study must emphasize student understanding through inquiry.
  4. The program of study in science should connect to other school subjects.

Science Program Standard E
All students in the K-12 science program must have equitable access to opportunities to achieve the National Science Education Standards.

Science Content Standard B: Physical Science
As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of:

  1. Structure of atoms
  2. Structure and properties of matter
  3. Chemical reactions
  4. Motions and forces
  5. Conservation of energy and increase in disorder
  6. Interactions of energy and matter

Science Teaching Standard A
Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers:

  1. Develop a framework of yearlong and short-term goals for students.
  2. Select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students.
  3. Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners.
  4. Work together as colleagues within and across disciplines and grade levels.

Science Teaching Standard D
Teachers of science design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. In doing this, teachers:

  1. Structure the time available so that students are able to engage in extended investigations.
  2. Create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of science inquiry.
  3. Ensure a safe working environment.
  4. Make the available science tools, materials, media, and technological resources accessible to students.
  5. Identify and use resources outside the school.
  6. Engage students in designing the learning environment.

Publications & Presentations

Gourlay, B., Kanig, D., Lusk, J., and Mader, S. (2006). Chemistry Language Project. Brown University. We built a source of information to help graduate students learn how to use technical terms in their proper context in a chemistry lab. This project is the subject of a chapter in the recently-published book Authenticity in the Language Classroom and Beyond: Adult Learners.

Mader, S. (2005). OpenSpectrum: A Wiki-based learning tool for Spectroscopy that anyone can edit Paper presented at the Winter 2005 CONFCHEM: Trends and New Ideas in Chemical Education – an online conference Jan-Feb 2005.

Mader, S.L. and Muppidi, S.R. “The Science of Spectroscopy: Building Faculty Collaborations, Enhancing Student Engagement” MERLOT International Conference, Atlanta, GA. – research presentation: 29 September 2002.

Mader, S.L. and Rooke, M.A. “Web-based Virtual Instruments” Division of Chemical Education, American Chemical Society 224th National Meeting – research presentation: Boston, Massachusetts. 22 August 2002.

Rooke, M.A and Mader, S.L. “Creating Active Learning in Introductory Chemistry: Combining Just-in-time Teaching with the Blackboard Course Management System” Division of Chemical Education, American Chemical Society 224th National Meeting – research presentation: Boston, Massachusetts. 21 August 2002.

Mader, S.L. “Web-based Interactive Learning Modules: The Science of Spectroscopy” ‘Technology, Pedagogy and Course Redesign’ Conference, Fairfield University – research presentation: Fairfield, CT. 12 June 2002.

Canistraro, H. A., Mader, S.L.*, and Rooke, M.A. “An Action Plan for Strengthening Undergraduate STEM Education” Project Kaleidoscope: “The World Wide Web: Strengthening the Undergraduate STEM Curriculum” U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. 11 February 2002.
*Institution-Lead and Project Kaleidoscope liaison

Rooke, M.A. and Mader, S.L. “Web-based Molecular Modeling and Spectral Interpretation” American Chemical Society: Northeast Regional Meeting (NERM), University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. 21 June 2000.

Mader, S.L. and Rooke M.A. “Web-based Spectroscopy Education: Spectral Interpretation” American Chemical Society – Connecticut Valley Section Undergraduate Research Symposium – research presentation: 29 April 2000.

Mader, S.L. “Web-based Spectroscopy Education” University of Hartford – Undergraduate Research Colloquium – research presentation: 14 April 2000.

Rooke, M.A. and Mader, S.L. “Web-based Spectroscopy Education” American Chemical Society 219th National Meeting – research poster: San Francisco, CA 29 March 2000.

“Shedding Light on Spectroscopy” Science, 297: 1775 (13 September 2002).

“Seeing the Scientific Light” The Observer (University of Hartford), Vol.26, No.4: 7 (2000).

CFA Institute: Digital & Social Media Strategy for the Future of Finance

CFA Institute hired me to lead the redesign and content strategy for cfainstitute.org in concert with Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv’s creation of a new brand identity. I assembled a global design, development, and editorial team, created the Enterprising Investor and Market Integrity Insights blogs, created CFA Institute’s first-ever social media strategy, and built a robust presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Weibo. I refocused the marketing budget on digital and social campaigns, and consistently delivered 14-20 times higher engagement vs. display-only campaigns, which directly contributed to registration and revenue growth for professional certifications.

I also led rollout of the new brand identity to 120 local societies and partners around the world, and created a social media handbook with guidance on editorial strategy and audience engagement for CFA Institute members, staff, and affiliates.

What’s Involved in Upgrading a Century-old Subway Signal System?

Transit systems like PATH and the New York City Subway need ongoing maintenance to maintain frequent and reliable service. Since both operate 24/7, work is often squeezed in during nights and weekends when passenger demand is lighter. But sometimes larger work periods are needed for major projects like the complete overhaul of a century-old signal system, deep cleaning and repair of tunnels damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and construction of new stations, like the World Trade Center Transportation Hub built to replace the one lost on September 11, 2001.

Diagram of PATH routes designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects

Over the past several years, PATH service has been suspended in segments of the subway system connecting NY & NJ on weekends to give crews the longer time blocks necessary to make major repairs and upgrades. In 2014 and 2015, service between Exchange Place in Jersey City and the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan was suspended on some weekends from 11PM Friday-5AM Monday, and in 2016 Hoboken-33rd Street service was suspended for 17 weekends between August and December. Continues…

Towers & Transit: Real Estate Projects Should Help Pay for Transportation Improvements

The Wall Street Journal article PATH Strains Under Housing Boom examines an important issue: the interplay between transit capacity and real estate development, with a focus on PATH ridership growth as neighborhoods in Jersey City and Hoboken served by the subway connecting NY & NJ continue to experience strong growth.

7 Extension - 34 St Hudson Yards exterior

The 7 Train extension to Hudson Yards was funded by New York City using bonds backed by future tax revenues from the new Hudson Yards neighborhood.

Port Authority chairman John Degnan noted that the agency is looking to the cities served by PATH, and the real estate developers who build new projects in close proximity to PATH stations, to help fund capacity upgrades. Continues…

Joy, Reflection Mark Opening of WTC Hub and Subway-PATH Connection

A few weeks before the opening of the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, PATH invited journalists and members of the PATH Riders Council for a behind-the-scenes tour.

WTC Transportation Hub at night

WTC Transportation Hub at night

The new Transportation Hub is the fourth station to occupy the site. The first, built in 1909 as the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad’s Hudson Terminal, was replaced by a new station in 1971 under the original World Trade Center twin towers. After that station was destroyed on September 11, 2001, a temporary station opened in 2003. In October 2013, the West Concourse – the first portion of the new Hub – opened, connecting the Transportation Hub and Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center). Platform A opened to regular PATH service in February 2014, followed by Platform B in May 2015. Continues…

What’s the Best Use of Street Space in an Urban Area?

UPDATE: You spoke, and the City Council listened. Enough residents spoke at the April 26, 2016 meeting to convince the City Council to vote to approve a resolution to convert parking spaces to accommodate deliveries. The new Trader Joe’s is scheduled to open in May 2017.

Hoboken, Inc. reports that the fate of a much-anticipated Trader Joe’s supermarket in the north end of Hoboken may come down to 24 on-street parking spaces.

Trader Joe's Hoboken Harlow

Trader Joe’s will occupy the ground floor space in Harlow, a mixed-use development at the corner of 14th Street and Willow Avenue in Hoboken.

Roads and streets existed long before cars, and the notion that a public good should be made available for free or below market prices to a single class of private users is a pretty unfair distribution of public resources. The idea that a small reduction in on-street parking could be an obstacle to the addition of a much-desired and much-needed business shows just how much we miss the mark when parking is considered the highest-priority use of street space in an urban area. Continues…

Berlin’s Two Transit Agencies Appear on a Single Subway Map

New York & New Jersey Subway Map shows how we can give people a comprehensive view of transit options in the NYC region. The map generated lively discussion on SubChat, a popular transit discussion board, and commenter AEM-7AC #901 noted that the official rail rapid transit map in Berlin displays services provided by two agencies.


Berlin U-Bahn and S-Bahn have different owners, BVG and DB respectively, yet somehow, the concept of leaving the other off the map is seen as silly. The notion that we should only have an “MTA map” with MTA services is rather silly, especially when the bus maps in Queens listed the private bus lines on the NYCTA maps when they operated. I just don’t see the need to pretend that PATH doesn’t exist just because it goes to that place where “dragons may be” and has “train engineers” in lieu of train operators on what are essentially smaller versions of an R-160. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the subway to Hoboken, Jersey City, and Newark.

Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) is the main public transport agency in Berlin, which manages the U-Bahn subway, as well as bus, ferry, and tram networks. Deutsche Bahn (DB) is the German national railway company, which manages the S-Bahn regional rail service. They appear together on the city’s official transit map, and operate with a unified fare structure and payment system. Continues…

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