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News Clips -August 15, 2008

From August 8 to August 14, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 367 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


The 2003 Northeast blackout--Five years later
Scientific American | August 14
If the standards have reduced the number of blackouts, the evidence has yet to bear it out. A study of NERC blackout data by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that the frequency of blackouts affecting more than 50,000 people has held fairly constant at about 12 per year from 1984 to 2006. Co-author Paul Hines, now assistant professor of engineering at the University of Vermont in Burlington, says current statistics indicate that a 2003-level blackout will occur every 25 years.


Web-security inventor charts a squigglier course
The Wall Street Journal | August 13
After widespread adoption of the Captcha system, Mr. Luis von Ahn, a 29-year-old assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University here, is putting his technique to work in another security scheme, dubbed ReCaptcha. This time, he wants users to assist with what he thinks is an important public service: helping get old books and newspapers online as part of digitized libraries.


Disney begins research lab at Carnegie Mellon
BusinessWeek | August 12
Carnegie Mellon University is going to be providing research and development for the Walt Disney Co. The Pittsburgh university and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich are to establish collaborative labs. They will engage in research and development on computer animation, computational cinematography, autonomous interactive characters, robotics and other initiatives.


Utilities trim trees near power lines or risk big fines
USA Today | August 11
Jay Apt, executive director of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center in Pittsburgh, cautions that trees were not the sole culprit in the 2003 blackout. Human error and computer failures also played a role. However, "any accident is caused by a chain of errors, and if you eliminate any one link in the chain, you generally eliminate the incident," he says.


Global trail of an online crime ring
The New York Times | August 11
Agents brought the sniffer program to the Computer Emergency Response Center at Carnegie Mellon University, where experts compared it with another program found during the investigation of the earlier breach at TJX and found they were two versions of the same underlying code. Agents now knew conclusively that the same gang was responsible for both crimes.

Education for Leadership

Local student says governor's school was great preparation
The Phoenix | August 11
After having a taste of college at Governor's School this summer, a local student says she is more prepared for life after high school. As part of a program sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Deepthi Shashidhar, 17, of Phoenixville, recently returned home from a five-week session on sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence offers these residential programs on college campuses for the artistically and academically talented throughout the state.

Arts and Humanities

Perceptions about income influence lottery ticket purchases
Chicago Tribune | August 10
Research at Carnegie Mellon University indicates that people are more likely to buy lottery tickets if they think their income compares poorly with other people's. In fact, it doesn't seem to be the income level itself that is key. Rather, it's the comparison, or the perception that you are lagging behind more affluent people.,0,6663121.column

Information Technology

Several steps can protect against identity theft
Newsday | August 11
When you shop or bank online, make sure you choose only reputable, known retailers. Check the bottom right corner of the Web site for a small lock icon, says Carnegie Mellon University Engineering Dean Pradeep Khosla, who works with the university's cybersecurity lab. If the lock is locked, it's a safe, encrypted site. If it's unlocked, it's not. (Not all Web sites have this feature, but it's worth looking for.),0,1843830.story


Remedial instruction helps dyslexic children
BusinessWeek | August 7
Remedial instruction can help improve dyslexia-related reading problems, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The study of 25 grade five students who were poor readers found that 100 hours of remedial instruction increased activity in several areas of the brain, and those gains solidified over the following year, United Press International reported.


Last swill and testament
Grist Environmental News & Commentary | August 11
We can also get a little extrapolative climate change information on your addiction from our new toy, the Carnegie Mellon Green Design Institute's Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment model. Remember, EIO-LCA is an online tool that calculates the overall environmental impact of producing certain dollar amounts of various products. In this case, we click on the "food, beverage, and tobacco" industry, then choose "soft drink and ice manufacturing," which, the model reveals, involves power generation, grain farming, wet corn milling, trucking, aluminum production, paper mills, oil and gas extraction, and more.

Regional Impact

Team PA hosts foreign journalists in economic development tour
Pittsburgh Business Times | August 8
Six journalists from five countries are touring defense- and aerospace-based facilities throughout Pennsylvania the week of Aug.11, as the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and various regional partners aim to encourage foreign companies to locate operations in the commonwealth. The press tour will be in the Pittsburgh area Aug. 14 and 15. The agenda includes tours of Carnegie Mellon University Cylab and the University of Pittsburgh Center for National Preparedness and meetings with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Armstrong County Industrial Council.


Pausch legacy shared at Carnegie Mellon, across nation
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | August 11
Randy Pausch will continue to make an impact through several charitable and inspirational events occurring over the next several weeks. Dr. Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor who inspired millions with the video and subsequent book made out of his final lecture at the school, died July 25 after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years.


The successful export of American education
The Vancouver Sun | August 11
As Charles Thorpe, the dean of Carnegie Mellon in Qatar, points out, this course is helping break down stereotypes and dispel myths. "It doesn't always change people's opinions, but it does help to build understanding and tolerance," he says. This unique interaction between students from different continents is just one of the benefits of a recent trend -- American universities setting up shop in foreign nations. Carnegie Mellon's campus in Qatar is positioned at the epicentre of this phenomenon: Education City. Located just outside Doha, Education City boasts branch campuses for five American Universities, as well as educational facilities for primary- and secondary-aged students.


Summer college preview at Carnegie Mellon
The Peninsula | August 10
The second summer college preview program wrapped up at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Thirty-seven high school seniors and 14 juniors took part in the three-week college preparatory course. The program was designed to introduce intelligent and academically motivated students to the demanding curriculum of selective American universities such as the ones in Education City.


The credit crunch one year on
The Economist | August 7
Two weeks later the Fed said it would accept any AAA-rated securities as collateral, including those backed by student loans. Mr Dodd praised the decision. But Allan Meltzer, a Fed historian at Carnegie Mellon University, cringed, saying it looked as if the Fed had caved in to political pressure: “It gets close to the idea of credit allocation. And every Fed chairman without exception worried about that."