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News Clips - February 29, 2008

From February 22 to February 28, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 582 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


That '70s show
The Wall Street Journal | February 28
Is the Federal Reserve an independent monetary authority or a handmaiden beholden to political and market players? Has it reverted to its mistaken behavior in the 1970s? Recent actions and public commitments, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to Congress yesterday -- where he warned of a steeper decline and suggested that more rate cuts lie ahead -- leave little doubt on both counts. ***This article was written by Carnegie Mellon professor of political economics Allan Meltzer.


Florida's blackout: A warning sign?
TIME Magazine | February 27
Floridians could not have been caught more unaware by Tuesday's massive, afternoon-long blackout. Although temperatures have been unseasonably high this month, they were hardly torrid enough to overload the peninsula's air conditioners. ... Aside from the transit nightmare, the Florida blackout also revived the awful memory of August, 2003, when an even larger grid failure in the Northeast left 15 million people in the dark. Improvements to America's electrical reliability system have been put in place the past five years; but Tuesday was a reminder that the country's power infrastructure is still more vulnerable than many feel it ought to be. According to research by three scholars at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the average U.S. electrical utility customer experiences 214 minutes of power outage each year — compared to 70 in Great Britain and just six in Japan. "The U.S.," says their article, "ranks toward the bottom among developed nations in terms of reliability of its electricity service.",8599,1717878,00.html


Syria sees no chance for peace this year
Associated Press | February 25
Israel and Palestinians will not reach a peace deal this year, and a recent Mideast peace conference in Annapolis was only "an exercise in public relations," Syria's ambassador to the United States said Monday. Imad Moustapha said President Bush has no real desire to broker a peace deal and that there are powerful forces within his administration who believe "chaos is constructive" in the Middle East. ... But in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, hours before he was scheduled to speak at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Moustapha said the United States only makes positive statements about Syria when it serves a political purpose.


Online education takes off in India
BusinessWeek Magazine | February 22
It's a Sunday afternoon and class time for 39-year-old IT worker Seema Shetty. Her feet curled under her in a swivel chair, she sits in front of a computer monitor, adjusts a set of headphones, and scribbles in a notebook. Shetty, who works for consulting firm Mastek in Mumbai, is in a virtual classroom in the Vile Parle suburb, where a dozen computers link students to some of India's elite management institutions. ... This demand for online education in a hot market like India has also sparked the interest of foreign universities. In 2007, Carnegie Mellon University tied up with Shri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering in Chennai, in southern India, to offer IT courses.


A Google competition, with a robotic moon landing as a goal
The New York Times | February 22
More than three decades after the last Apollo astronauts roamed the lunar surface, disparate universities, open-source engineers and quixotic aerospace start-ups are planning to start their own robotic missions to the Earth's barren cousin. The return to the moon is part of the Google Lunar X Prize, a competition sponsored by Google with $30 million in prizes for the first two teams to land a robotic rover on the moon and send images and other data back home. At Google's headquarters here on Thursday, 10 teams from five countries announced their intention to participate in the competition. They include a team led by William L. Whitaker, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and renowned roboticist; an affiliation of four universities and two major aerospace companies in Italy; and one group that is a loose association of engineers coordinating their efforts online.


Shop talk: Millions for computer science, an old building for law, a new complex for fashion
The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) | February 21
The Henry L. Hillman Foundation is giving Carnegie Mellon University $10-million toward the cost of its new 209,000-square-foot computer-science complex, now under construction. The two-building complex, shoehorned into a difficult site by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, has already attracted a $20-million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Education for Leadership

Carnegie Mellon grad courts widget investors
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 27
When she turned her Carnegie Mellon University class project into a company two years ago, Shanna Tellerman had an admirable aim: to train firefighter and hazmat teams. ... The 3-D platform she and professor Jesse Schell adapted from her master's degree work at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center now is being put to a use quite different from designing rescue training scenarios.


Bingos could raise jackpots to battle casino competition
WTAE Channel 4 | February 21
There are 380 bingo licenses in Allegheny County, mostly held by schools and volunteer fire departments. Those organizations rely on bingo revenue to fund their operations, but as casinos move into the region, bingo revenue is going down, putting fire protection and other services at risk. ... Masters students at Carnegie Mellon University have launched a comprehensive study to determine the effects of the Pittsburgh casino on area bingo halls. The three students distribute surveys, asking questions such as how much players typically spend on bingo and if they plan on going to the Pittsburgh casino when it opens.

Arts and Humanities

Stage Review: Carnegie Mellon honors Wilson's notable play
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 27
Pittsburgh's premier undergraduate theater training program has finally honored Pittsburgh's greatest dramatist with a mainstage production, and although it's unfortunate it took Carnegie Mellon University so long, it has done the late August Wilson proud. And in Carnegie Mellon's defense, it was the first university in Pittsburgh to give Wilson an honorary degree, which moved him very much, given the many unhappy experiences of his school years.


Newsmaker: Kristen Hughes
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 26
Newsmaker: Kristen Hughes. Age: 39 Residence: Friendship. Family: Single. Education: Bachelor's degree in fine arts, Syracuse University; master's degree in visual communication, Virginia Commonwealth University. Background: Professor at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design; teaches basic principles of information and communication design and typography. Noteworthy: Recently received a $195,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments to create Fitwits, a series of learning games for children to teach them about nutrition, exercise, food and health. The creators intend Fitwits to be implemented in schools and hospitals.

Information Technology

McNealy: Telcos falling behind in internet race
The Washington Post | February 28
Telecommunication companies need to go beyond just providing bandwidth and look into acquiring Internet destination sites that are heavily trafficked, Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy said on Friday. "I have explained to every telco that either you become a destination site, or the destination site will become a telco," McNealy said at a news conference at Sun Microsystems' Worldwide Education and Research Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. ... Sun is already incorporating OpenSparc in the curricula of U.S. universities including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Texas. Sun's efforts to promote open-source technology are succeeding, McNealy said, claiming there have been 50 million downloads of Sun's open-source Java Runtime Environment per month, McNealy said.


Fluorescent proteins developed for live cell imaging | February 27
Scientists have developed new fluorogen-activating proteins (FAPs) that will become a major component of novel molecular biosensor technology. The FAPs will be used to monitor biologic mechanisms of individual proteins and other biomolecules within living cells in real time. The scientists, from Carnegie Mellon University's Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center (MBIC; Pittsburgh, PA, USA), designed the FAPs to emit fluorescent light only when bound to a fluorogen, an otherwise non-fluorescent dye added by the scientists. This feature will allow biologists to monitor proteins on the cell surface and within living cells in very simple and direct ways, eliminating cumbersome experimental steps.

Regional Impact

IT consulting firm to relocate to North Hills
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 28
Pepperweed Consulting, a provider of information technology management consulting services, will relocate its headquarters to the Pittsburgh region from Indianapolis in the spring, bringing 25 jobs and planning to add 100 within three years. ... The move to Pittsburgh was based on several factors, including cost of living and access to computer science graduates from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University.


Carnegie Mellon cheers Microsoft 'icon,' his vision
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 22
Seventeen hours before Bill Gates arrived at Carnegie Mellon University for the final stop on his five-college "farewell tour" Thursday evening, computer science students were lining up outside Rangos Hall. "He's a cult figure amongst geeks," said Suhas Krishna, 24, a Carnegie Mellon graduate student. "He's an icon." For more than an hour, the Microsoft founder gave a glimpse of his technological vision for the coming decade -- computers that respond to voice commands, tables that interact with cell phones, televisions that recognize viewers' likes and dislikes -- as well as his dreams for a world where people don't battle malnutrition and children don't die from preventable diseases.


'Claytronics' may emerge from Carnegie Mellon lab
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 22
A $10 million gift that Carnegie Mellon University will use to build a center for the most cutting-edge technology gives a special thrill to computer science professor Seth Goldstein. "We're gonna get a bigger lab," said Goldstein, spreading his arms in the cramped room where his team is designing tiny robots that can assemble themselves into large objects. Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon touted the team's work this week when he announced a donation from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation to build the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies. Plans call for the complex to open on the Oakland campus in 2009.


Galvanizing entrepreneurs is goal for Innovation Works
Pittsburgh Business Times (subscription) | February 22
Innovation Works is launching an incubator for software, interactive game and Internet-related companies. AlphaLab will give funding, free office space and business mentoring for 12 companies, split into two six-month cycles. "We want to be a galvanizing force for entrepreneurs in this space," Innovation Works CEO Richard Lunak said. ...  Lenore Blum, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the Project Olympus initiative to retain tech talent, said the AlphaLab program will be "fantastic" for Pittsburgh. "It fits in very well with what we're trying to do here," Blum said.


Internet censorship: No success expected
The News International | February 28
Efforts by countries like China to restrict the exchange of information on the Internet are ultimately doomed to failure, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told an audience of Stanford  University students recently. "I don't see any risk in the world at large that someone will restrict free content flow on the Internet," he said. "You cannot control the Internet." ... In five years, Microsoft expects more Internet searches to be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard, Gates told about 1,200 students and faculty members at Carnegie Mellon University.


NASA shows off rover armed with Canadian-made drill
Canadian Broadcast Corporation | February 27
A robot rover designed to find water and equipped with a Canadian-made drill is one of two concept vehicles NASA to be demonstrated at an annual space exploration conference this week. The rover, dubbed Scarab, was built by researchers at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh but includes contributions from two Canadian companies known for their work in space robotics.


Vaccinating boys for girls' sake?
International Herald Tribune | February 22
How cool are those Gardasil Girls? Riding horses, flinging softballs, bashing away on drum sets: seen in television commercials across the United States, they are pugnacious and utterly winning. They want to be "One Less," they chant — one less victim of cervical cancer. Get vaccinated with Gardasil, they urge their sisters. Protect yourselves against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer. ... Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon in Pennsylvania, thinks that older boys may see a mix of benefits in Gardasil. "Being able to say to a girl, casually, that you had the shots, boys might think, 'If I can slip that into the conversation, it makes me less of a risk and seem like more of a humanitarian,' " Fischhoff said. "So the self-interested and altruistic motives could actually support each other."