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News Clips - October 5, 2007

From September 28 to October 4, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 428 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Radiohead fans, guided by conscience (and budget)
The New York Times | October 4
For three days that has been the question on the lips — and at the fingertips — of Radiohead fans. After hours of blog and water cooler arguments, some New Yorkers yesterday were finally able to name their price to preorder the band’s new album, “In Rainbows.” ... “It could change the feelings about free downloading,” said George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. “If the band is willing to trust you to pay what’s fair, all of a sudden, for the people who have been saying it’s not stealing to download the song for free, it’s much more difficult to rationalize that. I think it may be a brilliant move in that dimension."


Randy Pausch answers your questions
ABC News | October 3
Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch's last lecture has become something of an Internet sensation -- more than half a million people viewed it at, and more than 600,000 read the story about him. Pausch has cancer and has been told by doctors he has only three to six months left to live. Nearly 2,000 people wrote in to ask Pausch questions after watching the segment on "Good Morning America" or reading about him at Below are a few of the questions viewers asked him, and his answers.


Virtual rootkits not a problem, say researchers
The New York Times ( | October 2
Rootkits that use virtualization techniques should not present detection problems, according to researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Stanford universities. ... There are also differences between virtual and actual hardware configurations such as chipsets, according to the researchers. And resource discrepancies give the game away, as VMMs consume CPU cycles and physical memory, and have a cache footprint that can be detected.


'Social' robots coming to a home near you
Discovery Channel (AP) | October 1
Dominated by home-cleaning gadgets, the consumer robotics market is expanding with the arrival of 'bots that can spy inside your home when you're away or arrange virtual meetings of family or friends. ... "As these kinds of devices mature in the years ahead, I expect them to gradually become more sophisticated in terms of providing gestures, object interaction such as picking things up, and eventually moving toward a more human shape," said James Kuffner, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.


France's environmental bureaucracy to expand purview
USA Today (AP) | September 28
France is seeing green, green, green. President Nicolas Sarkozy, capitalizing on U.S. hesitance to combat global warming, wants to make his country the world's environmental laboratory. ... Granger Morgan, energy expert at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, predicted that France could have an indirect effect on world emissions by talking loudly about its own plans. "Every little bit helps," he said by telephone.


I.M.F. faces a question of identity
The New York Times | September 28
A decade ago, the International Monetary Fund helped to stabilize the world economy after markets collapsed in Latin America, Russia and Asia. Though critics often have rued its interventionism, the fund was widely hailed as a heroic guardian of the global financial system. ... If the fund concentrates solely on monitoring economies and seeking greater disclosure in the world financial system, that would suit some of its critics well. Adam Lerrick, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University and the American Enterprise Institute, is among those who say that the I.M.F. needs to rethink its role in that direction.

Education for Leadership

Variety is a work of art at Children's Museum
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | October 4
Two new exhibits opening Saturday at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh on the North Side help kids learn about a local circus act and play with works by local artists. ... "Tough Art -- Ready for Anything" features the work of four local artists who had summer residencies at the museum: Matt Barton, Eileen Maxson, Joey Hayes and Gregory Witt, who are graduate students in the Fine Arts program at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland. The exhibit shows the result of the artists' challenge: making something that holds up not just in a gallery setting but in a hands-on, participatory museum environment.


Alternative fuels drive new Pittsburgh festival
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | October 3
The region's first Alternative Transportation Festival is using the region's first alternative scavenger hunt. To generate buzz for Friday's festival, which showcases modes of transportation that shun fossil fuels, its organizers today are starting a scavenger hunt that involves cell phone text messages and electronic mapping, rather than cryptic clues on slips of paper. ... Gumband, an information platform developed by Carnegie Mellon University spinoff DeepLocal, allows users to send short text messages to a local phone number and get useful facts, directions or messages in return. DeepLocal, based in East Liberty, is testing the technology with the scavenger hunt.

Arts and Humanities

Ivy League Jazz
UALR Public Radio | October 2
As a college student. Joshua Redman wasn't much of a multitasker. The saxophonist rarely practiced when he attended Harvard University from 1987-'91, as playing jazz, alongside such a rigorous academic schedule just didn't work. "I was focused on school, and I wasn't able to carve out time for music during the school year," Redman said. "I barely touched my horn."  ... Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, which offers a jazz minor, mostly graduates students who seek careers in other fields. Some continue to make room in their lives for jazz-a business school graduate a few years ago took a job on Wall Street trading during the day while continuing to play jazz gigs at night. Director of Jazz Studies David Pellow sees himself not only as a music instructor, but also as a steward of the jazz tradition for tomorrow's movers and shakers in business and other fields. "Maybe I won't train the next Brecker, but maybe I'll train the next guy who's going to open a club or create an arts center that's going to present the music," Pellow said.


'Rachel in the World' by Jane Bernstein
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 30
Rachel Bernstein is an adorable and sunny child who charms strangers when she shakes their hands and stands inches from their faces. The tiny girl with ringlets is 8, but could pass for 5 or 6, which is fine with her mother, who then doesn't have to answer questions about her daughter's developmental delays. ... That is one of the unsentimental truths found in this refreshingly honest memoir by Jane Bernstein, Rachel's mother and a Carnegie Mellon University professor.

Information Technology

Fight spam and preserve ancient books, all at once
Wired Blog Network | October 2
Carnegie Mellon researchers are killing two birds with one stone by having people identify words from old books that can't be deciphered by optical character recognition software. Once entered, people continue about their digital way while the word is sent back to Carnegie Mellon.


CERT fortifies code analysis
Jupitermedia | October 2
Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is all about making information technology more secure. Yet beyond just identifying security problems, CERT is also concerned with helping developers eliminate security problems before they occur -- by encouraging them to code more securely.


Hard drives vs. hard drugs
IEEE Spectrum | October 1
During his doctoral student days at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jonathan Caulkins's professors told him that mathematical modeling methods used in operations research could solve any problem. So he whittled humanity’s 10 biggest challenges down to the one that was both quantifiable and not yet addressed by engineers: drug addiction. He then spent a summer rolling with the police in Hartford, Conn., so he could meet the city’s drug dealers in person and grill them about their business. Some two decades later, Caulkins, 41, now a professor of operations research and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, is among a handful of engineers, statisticians, and computer scientists using math modeling to predict, treat, and contain drug addiction.


Solar house has power to reject electricity
Pittsburgh Business Times | September 28
Carnegie Mellon University has constructed a $250,000 "home of the future" as part of an international competition designed to literally shed light on the importance of using renewable energy sources. "We need to address the global energy and climate change issues sooner rather than later," said Stephen Lee, professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon. "This project demonstrates to the public that better construction solutions are available now with advanced technologies using renewable energy sources."


Tiny robot device mends broken hearts
Orlando Sentinel | October 2
A device that sounds like a 21st-century version of a medicinal leech may soon be set loose inside the chests of heart patients. Resembling a robotic caterpillar, it will crawl across the surface of their beating heart, delivering treatment without the need for major surgery. ... By moving its two body segments back and forth relative to one another it can crawl across the heart at up to 18 centimeters per minute. The robot is being developed by Cameron Riviere and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.,0,860432.story

Regional Impact

Tough to unplug
The Baltimore Sun | September 30
Homeowners fumed and politicians fretted when electricity prices increased by a record amount this past summer. But did people unplug? Not by much. Utility records show the average Maryland household used nearly as much electricity as in past years, even when adjusting for differences in weather from one year to the next. ... "If something costs less than 2 percent of your income, you probably don't spend a lot of time worrying about it," said Lester B. Lave, an energy expert and economist with Carnegie Mellon University.,0,5663745.story?coll=bal-local-columnists


Snooping service techs may make home computers unsafe havens for personal files
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | October 3
You may think your home computer or laptop is a safe place to conduct personal business. But keeping the contents of that equipment confidential isn't guaranteed once you hand it over to service technicians for repairs, or even if workers enter your house to install cable or phone lines. ... Pradeep Khosla, co-founder of Carnegie Mellon University's CyLab, a research institute, said there was little protection afforded consumers about what technicians see or do not see.


Qolt: The amazing technology that helps seniors stay independent
Pop City Media | October 3
Imagine a world where personal robots help the elderly and disabled cook and clean. Where camera- and sensor-rich “smart cottages” provide data to teams of human angels poised to swoop down and intervene when residents need help.  Where senior citizens avoid or defer the need for assisted living facilities because of this benevolent monitoring and assistance network. Takeo Kanade and Jim “Oz” Osborn are doing more than imagining it. They head a powerhouse team, spearheaded by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, charged with researching and developing such new technology, then making it work. And their two pilot projects, right here in Greater Pittsburgh, already are underway.


Students bask in sun-powered homes contest
Philippine Daily Inquirer (Agence France-Presse) | October 4
American, Canadian and European university students battle for architectural and engineering supremacy in Washington this month in a contest of homes whose lights, refrigerators and televisions must be powered by solar energy. Twenty teams will show off their futuristic creations at the third edition of "Solar Decathlon 2007" between October 12-20 in the US capital's vast Mall esplanade, and 125,000 people are expected to visit the homes. ... Sixteen US universities are participating in the contest, including the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Penn State and the winner of the 2002 and 2005 Solar Decathlon, the University of Colorado.


Scans reveal lost gravestone text
BBC News | October 3
Scientists at Carnegie Mellon university are making high resolution 3D scans of tombstones to reveal the carved patterns in the stone. A computer matches the patterns to a database of signature carvings which reveals the words. ... "This technology is expected to reduce guessing work in field inspection," said Dr Yang Cai, director of the Ambient Intelligence Lab at Carnegie Mellon Cylab.


Spam weapon helps preserve books
BBC News | October 2
Many websites use an automated test to tell computers and humans apart when signing up to an account or logging in. The test consists of typing in a few random letters in an image and is designed to fight spammers. Carnegie Mellon is using this test to help decipher words in books that machines cannot read by letting sites use them to authenticate log-ins. The test, known as a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart), was originally designed at Carnegie Mellon to help to keep out automated programs known as "bots."


Prospecting in the dark... slowly
The Engineer Online | October 1
A robot that can navigate rocky surfaces and carry out drill operations in complete darkness is being developed at Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University. ... "A lunar prospector will face a hostile environment in the perpetual darkness of craters at the moon's southern pole, where ground temperatures are -385ºF and no energy source is at hand," said William Whittaker, the principal investigator of the NASA-funded project. "It's where Scarab will thrive — even while operating on the electrical power required to illuminate a 100W light bulb."'s+dark+mission.htm


Everyone needs to be a computer literate
Express Network Private Limited | September 30
Information and communication technologies (ICT) may not be a cure to all problems, but it can be a powerful tool to facilitate economic, individual and social development, said Prof K Raj Reddy of Carnegie Mellon University (USA) at the 73rd and 74th convocation of Andhra University held on Saturday. ... Prof Raj Reddy called upon students to be open-minded to face new challenges.