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News Clips - January 26, 2007

From January 19 to January 25, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 316 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.

Special Section: Traffic STATS

Carnegie Mellon website measures risks on the road
KDKA (CBS) | January 22, 2007
When you get in your car for a drive, the odds of an accident are very small; but it can happen. Now, a new website created by Carnegie Mellon University can measure the actual risk you face on the road. If you think your safety when traveling on America's roads is all just a matter of luck, think again. Your age, gender, even what part of the country you're driving in all play a part in how safely you'll arrive, according to a new study from Carnegie Mellon for the American Automobile Association." What we've really strived to do here is to make accessible to everybody -- the risks associated with travel," explains Carnegie Mellon Professor Paul Fischbeck. "They can, in fact, use that information to convince their teenage children to drive at different times, or maybe take the school bus.


Site calculates risk factors for travelers
The New York Times | January 21
A middle-aged male pedestrian is four times as likely, on any given trip, to be killed by a car as is an elementary school student, according to a new interactive Web site that lets people compare travel risks. ... The site was put together by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, with support from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. It is being presented at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting, which begins Sunday, and is going public then, at ... “What surprised me most is that there were lots of surprises,” said Paul S. Fischbeck, the director of the Center for the Study and Improvement of Regulation at Carnegie Mellon and a professor of engineering and public policy.


Beware of sunny days: Study IDs traffic risks
ABC News | January 21
Forget icy roads and traffic jams: A new study says that sunny skies and open freeways are more common conditions for fatal traffic accidents. ... About 42,000 people die on America's roads and highways every year, but traffic experts say Americans know startlingly little about the risks. A joint project between the Carnegie Mellon University's Center for the Study and Improvement of Regulation (CSIR) and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety hopes to change that. ... There have been terrifying reports recently of school bus accidents. Dr. David Gerard, the executive director of CSIR who helped develop a database says many parents watched those reports and decided to keep their kids off the bus. But, he says, statistics show your child is safer on the bus than with you in the car. And, he adds, "it's probably 100 times riskier to have your child drive with their teenage brother.


Risk of death higher for male drivers
Fox News (AP) | January 18
That age-old stereotype about dangerous women drivers is shattered in a big new traffic analysis: Male drivers have a 77 percent higher risk of dying in a car accident than women, based on miles driven. And the author of the research says he takes it to heart when he travels--his wife takes the wheel. "I put a mitt in my mouth and ride shotgun," said David Gerard, a Carnegie Mellon University researcher who co-authored a major new U.S. road risk analysis. The study holds plenty of surprises. ... "We are finding comparisons that are surprising all the time," said study co-author Paul Fischbeck, a Carnegie Mellon professor of social and decision sciences. "What is necessary now is to go through and do that second level of analysis to figure out why some of these things are true.,4670,RoadRisks,00.html


Hold off on net neutrality
Washington Post | January 19
The Internet needs a makeover. Unfortunately, congressional initiatives aimed at preserving the best of the old Internet threaten to stifle the emergence of the new one. The current Internet supports many popular and valuable services. But experts agree that an updated Internet could offer a wide range of new and improved services, including better security against viruses, worms, denial-of-service attacks and zombie computers; services that require high levels of reliability, such as medical monitoring; and those that cannot tolerate network delays, such as voice and streaming video. To provide these services, both the architecture of the Internet and the business models through which services are delivered will probably have to change. ***This article was written by David Farber and Michael Katz. David Farber is a professor of computer science and public policy at Carnegie Mellon.


Plextronics receives technology funding
Forbes | January 23
Nanotechnology startup Plextronics Inc. said it has received $750,000 from the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania to further develop technology for organic solar cells. ... Plextronics was created by Carnegie Mellon University in 2002 to commercialize scientific breakthroughs from the university.

Education for Leadership

Student selling his skills on eBay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 24
With a 3.88 grade point average at Carnegie Mellon University and a resume jammed with computer programming honors, 21-year-old Andrew Warshaver thinks he would be very valuable to a company looking for a summer intern.
Just how valuable? Mr. Warshaver has turned to eBay to find out. ... Judi Mancuso, associate director of Carnegie Mellon's career center, said students today are more open about letting employers know exactly what they want to get out of internships, rather than just serving at a company's beck and call.Still, a first glance at Mr. Warshaver's eBay posting left her nearly speechless."It's definitely not something that I think one of our career counselors would suggest," she said. "However, we do encourage students to look at all avenues to find employment."


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | January 23
Katie Guernsey. Age: 29. Residence: Squirrel Hill. Family: Single. Education: Pursuing master's degree in arts management, Carnegie Mellon University; bachelor's degree in computer science from University of California, Santa Barbara. Career aspiration: Technology consultant for arts organization. Background: With a talent for math but a love for art, Guernsey has been trying to combine the two. After getting a computer science degree, she took an internship with an Internet company in Ecuador, then volunteered at the city museum in Quito designing educational materials. She has managed databases for the Museum of Latin American Art in California and organized a Carnegie Mellon conference on technology in the arts.

Arts and Humanities

Understanding of autism grows as Pittsburgh researchers track brain action
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 24
People with autism have been described as being cut off from the world around them. But a series of studies done at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have now shown that in a very real way, autistic people are also cut off from themselves. Scans done by Carnegie Mellon's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging show that various regions in the brains of high-functioning autistics don't communicate with each other as well as they do in typical people's brains. ... After examining how water flowed through the connective white matter that makes up about half the brain, researchers discovered that those brain cells were much more poorly organized in people with autism. The white matter sends electrical signals from one part of the brain to another, said Marcel Just, director of Carnegie Mellon's brain imaging center.


Artist satirizes how big business markets ‘urban’ without the culture
The Examiner | January 20
One artist pokes fun at how corporations hijack black culture, call it “urban” and sell it back to everyone. “I’m concerned with the way ‘urban’ is used to talk about cultural production,” said Ayanah Moor, an artist and professor of print-making and painting at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “There isn’t honesty in the definition.” Her exhibit, “Our Radio is Bigger than Yours,” opens Tuesday at McDaniel College in Westminster. “Urban” is code for blackness and “mainstream” means whiteness, she said, and her art, using exaggerated colors and hip trends, satirizes how retailers sell shirts for $40, even though it looks like it’s from a thrift store. “So often [college students] have on brand-new clothes that look old,” she said. While some have called her work “hip-hop art,” Moor shuns labels. Her message speaks to everyone, she said, because everyone is a consumer. “Everyone wants to be ‘ghetto,’ but no one wants to be poor,” according to an explanation of the exhibit.

Information Technology

Getting your geek on
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | January 25
Attention all hackers, podcasters, circuit tinkerers, backyard roboticists, contraption constructors and electrical conductors -- you're not alone. Maybe your friends and family don't understand why you think writing code is more relaxing than watching "Grey's Anatomy." Maybe your neighbors are suspicious of the strange lights flickering in your garage late at night. Maybe your significant other calls you "Dr. Frankenstein" under her-- or his -- breath.If this sounds like you, you might want to check out Dorkbot tonight at Brillobox, in Bloomfield. "The official tagline of Dorkbot is 'People doing strange things with electricity,'" says Golan Levin, a professor of electronic arts at Carnegie Mellon University and co-founder of the local chapter. "It's basically a community for people doing weird stuff with art, technology and electricity." ... It's a fun venue for giving a talk because everyone is happy to be there to be entertained and educated," says Garth Zeglin, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute, who made a presentation in November.


Carnegie Mellon hopes 'Boss' gets the job done
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | January 24
Boss, Carnegie Mellon University's latest entry in a $2 million robot race, drove more courteously in a demonstration Tuesday than many cars in a parkway traffic jam. The 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe named after Charles F. "Boss" Kettering, the late founder of Delco and vice president of GM Research Corp., ran a quarter-mile track at the former LTV site in Hazelwood at 20 mph. The robot properly stopped at intersections and allowed manned vehicles to cross ahead of it if they arrived first. ... "We're creating robots to develop the world, secure the world and feed the world," said team leader William "Red" Whittaker, Fredkin Research Professor of Robotics.

Regional Impact

Bush energy focus could juice up region
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | January 25
President Bush's focus on energy -- especially coal and nuclear power -- in his State of the Union address plays to the Pittsburgh region's strengths and could lead to new jobs here, some experts believe. "Any time you get a mention in the president's State of the Union speech, it's of great significance," said Jay Apt, a professor in Carnegie Mellon University's engineering and public policy department and executive director of the university's Electricity Industry Center. "It indicates the president has thought about it, and probably there is some money behind it.


Police chief claims cameras at red lights would help police
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 24
Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper endorsed the concept of putting enforcement cameras on traffic lights yesterday, saying automated ticketing could help the bureau "do more with the amount of officers we have." Chief Harper spoke at a public hearing on legislation proposed by Councilman William Peduto, which would have the city ask the state for permission to use the cameras, which are now allowed only in Philadelphia. ... Carnegie Mellon University History and Policy Professor Joel Tarr said data collected by his student researchers shows 79 deaths from car-on-pedestrian or car-on-bike accidents in the city from 1994 through 2005, or nearly seven per year. Another set of data shows 2,679 accidents involving pedestrians since 1997, including fatalities.


Carnegie Mellon may ban smoking indoors or outdoors
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 24
Smokers accustomed to lighting up on the Carnegie Mellon University campus may want to ingest this news slowly. A campus task force is recommending that smoking be banned indoors and out across the 10,000-student campus by 2010 and that sale of tobacco products and placement of tobacco-related ads in school publications be prohibited. The idea is in its early stages of discussion and already is sparking a range of reactions. If adopted, the new policy would go well beyond those of the city's other major universities and would put Carnegie Mellon among several dozen campuses nationwide that have enacted complete bans. A 25-member task force on campus health created by Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon last year looked at issues including a June finding by the U.S. surgeon general that secondhand smoke is a clear health risk. "Certainly, we want to protect nonsmokers from exposure. But there are other issues there," said Anita Barkin, director of Carnegie Mellon student health services, who chairs the task force.


Cadaver exhibit is 'Burgh bound
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | January 23
The Carnegie Science Center this fall will host a traveling exhibit featuring preserved cadavers that has caused worldwide controversy because the Chinese people in it did not consent to having their bodies put on display. Science Center officials on Monday declined to speak about "Bodies ... The Exhibition," saying they would release details and answer questions today. ... Bioethicist Alex London, who is on the faculties of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, said there is an ethical problem if those featured in the exhibit did not volunteer their bodies. "Medical schools have grappled for a long time with the use of cadavers," London said. "The challenge is to inculcate a deeper respect for actual cadavers as people recently deceased who have families. Citizens have to be convinced that it is worthwhile to donate their bodies to science, that they'll be treated with reverence.


Work zone: Workers admit to goofing off on the job
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 22
How much time do you spend goofing off on the job? Workers in one recent poll admitted to wasting an average of nearly two hours a day on company time. ... People who really like their jobs tend to do less loafing than people who aren't all that fond of their work and are "just putting in time," said Robert Kelley, adjunct professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University. "People who come to work with a purpose are less likely to be distracted," he said. The most time gets wasted in situations where "the job and the person are not a good match."


Street dogs: Brain study shows what drives buying decisions | January 19
Stanford neuroscientist Brian Knutson and economist colleagues at Carnegie Mellon (George Loewenstein) and MIT (Drazen Prelec) set out to discover the brain areas that drive purchases of consumer items. They recently published their findings in the neuroscience journal Neuron in an article titled, Neural predictors of purchases.