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News Clips - March 21, 2008

From March 14 to March 20, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 456 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


What's your favorite security question?
The Wall Street Journal | March 20
This month our cable company added an extra layer of security to access account information online. I received a letter with a new security code that I had to plug into my online account before the site would allow me to log on with my existing user name and password. Once logged in, I was allowed to change the new security code to my own password. Great. Another password to remember. ... Jason Rafail, Awareness and Collaboration Liaison at Carnegie Mellon University's CERT Coordination Center, cautions against using any software application that stores and automatically fills in user names and passwords. "If your system were compromised, this application may provide easy access to all of your accounts for intruders," he says. Likewise, he says, using a password-vault application may pose a similar risk. If any intruders compromise the machine, they may only need the password to the vault to gain access to all your account information, he says.


Analysis: Fed's bold moves have risks
Associated Press | March 19
There's a risk in Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's bold moves of late. If recent history is any guide, the euphoria that met the Fed's three-quarter-point reduction to a key interest rate Tuesday could be short-lived. With a string of urgent and aggressive actions, the Fed itself could end up feeding the panicky mind-set that it so desperately wants to calm. ... "I think it is true that Federal Reserve actions coming closely one after the other in the last few weeks — while no doubt are helpful for the economy — they carry with them a risk that people will perceive them as involving some slight desperation," said Marvin Goodfriend, economics professor at the Carnegie Mellon University.


Meltzer says fed focus on recession comes at inflation expense
Bloomberg | March 17
Federal Reserve historian Allan Meltzer said policy makers' decision to drop interest rates and combat a possible recession comes at the expense of inflation. The Fed has lost sight of its dual mandate, under the Federal Reserve Act, which requires it to try to achieve both maximum sustainable employment and price stability, Meltzer, 80, said. "The Fed should be aiming not just at the possibility of a recession, but at both the possibility of a recession and the possibility of future higher inflation,'' Meltzer, who teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg Radio in an interview.


Strange new world: tech picks of the week
ABC News | March 14
Shock of shocks, this week saw not one -- but two -- important robot stories. The United States is sending a Canadian-built 'bot into space to lend a hand to the International Space Station. And robot immortality awaits those eager R2D2s that will be inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame next month. ... This week, we saw yet another August class inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Despite her refusal to perform, Madonna showed up to receive her prize for years of service to the gods of rock. Big deal, of course, but we're far more interested in another HoF announcement: this year's inductees into the Robot Hall of Fame at Carnegie Mellon University.

Education for Leadership

Wisdom from the way-out edge
The Sydney Morning Herald | March 18
As the principal creator of the Java programming language, James Gosling is one of the few original hard-core IT geeks left. At 14, he broke into the computer science department at the University of Calgary in Canada and taught himself to write software; he later received a computer science degree there. The title of his PhD thesis from Carnegie Mellon University was The Algebraic Manipulation of Constraints. He has built satellite data acquisition systems, a multiprocessor version of Unix, several compilers, mail systems and window managers. As well, he has built a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) text editor, a constraint-based drawing editor and a text editor called "Emacs" for Unix. Seriously geek.

Arts and Humanities

Stress for success: Relationships good for health | March 18
I have no doubt that emotional closeness with others is good for your health. As a young child it always fascinated me when I was sick how much better I felt when my mother was sitting at my bedside comforting me. Did her presence exert only the placebo effect or is there actual physiological healing due to someone's empathetic presence? There's research that supports the link between relationships and physical health for people who have strong personal ties (like marriage, close family and friends, and/or involvement in social and religious groups). It has been found that they recover more quickly from disease and live longer. ... Sheldon Cohen, psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University who studies the effects of personal connections on health, finds that a hospital patient's family and friends help by just visiting, whether or not they quite know what to say. Close relationships, it seems, are important to your health and resiliency to illness. To protect yourself, keep your relationships in good shape. Surround yourself with people who are your biological allies and avoid or insulate yourself from those who are your enemies.

Information Technology

Proof of six degrees of separation
CNET | March 15
In a research paper from June 2007, titled "Worldwide Buzz: Planetary-Scale Views on an Instant-Messaging Network (PDF)," Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research and Jure Leskovec of Carnegie Mellon University analyzed 30 billion conversations among 240 million people using Microsoft Instant Messenger in June 2006. It turned out that the average path length, or degree of separation, among the anonymized users probed was 6.6.


Carnegie Mellon department receives $250K state grant (AP) | March 16
Gov. Ed Rendell has presented a $250,000 state grant to Carnegie Mellon University's biomedical engineering department. The grant is part of $12.8 million in grants awarded to colleges and universities across Pennsylvania. Grants totaling $9.8 million have been awarded through a state initiative that supports nanotechnology research for use in commercial and infrastructure projects. Nanotechnology involves developing new products at the atomic and molecular level.


$1.7 Tartans Pavilion debuts green dining, indoor/outdoor seating at Carnegie Mellon
Pop City Media | March 19
This spring, a popular new gathering spot at Carnegie Mellon University will swing open its giant glass garage doors and debut an al fresco dining area. ... Reppe says that Carnegie Mellon is considering applying for LEED certification for the project. “It was designed to be a different experience on campus—you feel like you’re someplace else. It’s proved to be a really popular space,” adds Paul Rosenblatt, a principal with SPRINGBOARD, who says the pavilion features green building systems, low VOC paints, water-based adhesives, and plenty of daylighting. Contractor was Rycon Construction.

Regional Impact

Panel makes math recommendations
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 14
Those hefty math textbooks children lug home might get lighter in coming years, thanks to a National Mathematics Advisory Panel report released yesterday that recommends a careful winnowing of elementary and middle-grade curricula to better focus students for algebra. President Bush created the panel in April 2006, amid concerns about the nation's slipping math performance and a debate over whether schools should use traditional or new-style instructional approaches. The panel, which included Carnegie Mellon University professor Robert S. Siegler, didn't recommend one style or another. Rather, the group specified topics, or "critical foundations," that it wants students to grasp by eighth grade so they're ready for algebra.


Top 50: Pittsburgh's past / A gift that keeps on giving
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 18
Pittsburgh is still benefiting from the boom of the 1940s. Last year, about $460 million was distributed from local philanthropies. Much of that money comes from fortunes that were set aside for the betterment of the community more than half a century ago. ... Last year the foundation awarded $1.5 million to the Regional Trail Corporation toward the construction of the final segment of the Great Allegheny Passage, a trail that will run from downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. The largest educational grant went to Carnegie Mellon University, which received $25 million for the Life Sciences Competitiveness Fund for upgrading facilities and recruiting faculty and students for the life sciences.


Carnegie Mellon Qatar campus adds executive education courses
Pittsburgh Business Times (subscription) | March 14
Carnegie Mellon University is expanding its programs for businessmen and women in Qatar. This semester, Carnegie Mellon began offering executive education courses to Qatargas, a Doha-based energy company. About 50 top managers from Qatargas are participating in a series of modules, which include global competitiveness, smart value creation, team collaboration, strategic cost management, leadership networks and international business building.


Additional reasons for going green | March 15
In recent months, the UAE has continued to intensify its environmental protection efforts, recognizing that sustainable development is an essential component of economic growth. The World Bank reports that the country will invest around US $45.7 billion (AED 168 billion) over the next 10 years in environmental and pollution control projects. ... Although extensive empirical evidence on the exact contribution of green buildings to worker productivity remains limited, we can refer to a landmark analysis by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University of several studies related to the health and human benefits of green buildings for valuable insights.


Kuwait's students attend robotics contest
Arab Times | March 14
Students from 25 schools in Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE are attending a two-day Botball workshop at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Botball is a US-based organization that introduces robotics to high school students. At the intensive two-day robotics workshop, the teams were given the necessary background and expertise to build and program their own Lego Mindstorm robot. Over the next few weeks, students will work with teachers and mentors to build and program their robots. The learning experience will culminate in April and May when the teams from each country compete against each other to see whose robot completes the course. The winning team also must demonstrate the work they've done in order to program their robot.