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News Clips - August 14, 2009

From August 7 to August 13, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 348 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Can U.S. help end rape as a weapon in Congo's war?
National Public Radio | August 11
Jendayi Frazer, a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs during the Bush administration, says Kabila has been asking for years for U.S. training of his forces. "The rebels are going to have to be confronted militarily and defeated by a well-trained Congolese force," Frazer adds. "The best thing you could do is train and professionalize that military." […] "Ultimately, the problem in eastern Congo is that you have FDLR insurgents who will never come forward to a negotiated peace process," says Frazer, now a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.


To teach computing, a new tool calls on the Sims
The Chronicle of Higher Education | August 10
Randy Pausch loved creating virtual worlds on computers. And Mr. Pausch, the late computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wanted all of his students to learn how they could share in his fun. But typing code wasn't exactly most students' definition of "fun".


And you thought a prescription was private
The New York Times | August 8
Privacy experts cite research by Latanya Sweeney, director of the Data Privacy Lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, which shows that a computer-savvy snooper can easily match names, addresses, Social Security numbers and so on to “re-identify” information that had supposedly been rendered anonymous.


To answer the phone, scratch your jeans
Wired News | August 7
Scratch Input, a computer input technique developed by researchers at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, uses the sound produced when a fingernail is dragged over the surface of any textured material such as wood, fabric or wall paint. The technology was demonstrated at the Siggraph graphics conference this year.

Education for Leadership

Urban garden, a singular success for Carnegie Mellon student
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 8
Jessica Jackson is pleased at the reaction her garden gets. The surprise could be expected, though. After all, it is made of 558 plastic bottles hung on a chain-link fence. "People will come by and say, 'Wow, I just got fruit from a fence,'" the Carnegie Mellon University senior says. "That is just what we are hoping to show." The site, along Forbes Avenue near the campus of Carnegie Mellon, is a vertical garden with which Jackson is showing how gardening can be done when space is missing. From zinnias to snapdragons, radishes to basil, it has some of the elements found in more horizontal spaces.


Newsmaker: Sanna Gaspard
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 9
Education: Earned a bachelor's degree in 2004 and a master's degree in 2005, both in biomedical engineering, and both from Carnegie Mellon University. Occupation: Enrolled in the biomedical engineering doctoral program at Carnegie Mellon University Noteworthy/Achievement: Gaspard won a $10,000 Innovation Technology Award from the Center for Integration of Medicine and Technology, and was invited by the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers to study in Italy this summer, in recognition of her work to develop a device to speed detection of bedsores.

Arts and Humanities

Sobering truth: More women abuse booze; drunken-driving arrests up
The Patriot Ledger | August 11
Nationwide, the number of women arrested for driving under the influence or alcohol or drugs was 28.8 percent higher in 2007 than it was in 1998, while the number of men arrested was 7.5 percent lower, according to FBI figures that cover about 56 percent of the country. (Despite the incomplete sample, Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist, said the trend probably holds true for the country as a whole.)


The invisible touch
Pocono Record | August 7
If it's your dream, you're the guarantee, via the classic self-fulfilling prophecy. Dreams can color your thinking about upcoming plans and your closest friends, especially if nighttime reveries mirror what you already believe, says Bruce Bower in "Nighttime Thoughts See Light of Day" in Science News. People in cultures as diverse as the U.S., India, South Korea generally assume that dreams contain hidden truth, say Carey Morewedge of Carnegie Mellon University and Michael Norton of Harvard. In fact, many dreamers feel that these provide more meaningful insight than do comparable waking thoughts.

Information Technology

Pay-per-email plan to beat spam and help charity
New Scientist | August 13
Once the scheme grows more popular, mail-server operators can save resources by having their systems spend less time scrutinising CentMail-accredited messages as spam suspects, its designers say. CentMail draws inspiration from an IBM project called Charity Seals, created by Mark Wegman and Scott Fahlman. It was never implemented, though, in part because people are not used to paying for email, says Fahlman, currently at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


PLoS mulls hosting software amid growing crossover between informatics and publishing
GenomeWeb Daily News | August 7
Bourne said that Carnegie Mellon University's Robert Murphy will be the section's editor. "We'd like to have software deposited with the article," Bourne said, but noted that the team is ironing out details, such as whether to create a repository like SourceForge to host software that is not yet live at the time of article submission.


The renaissance of lifecycle thinking
Reuters | August 10
Beyond that, there's something called "input-output modeling," a more blunt-instrument approach to LCA that "estimates the materials and energy resources required for, and the environmental emissions resulting from, activities in our economy," in the words of the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where the methodology for "Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment" was perfected. Its estimates of lifecycle inputs aren't as good as conducting a full LCA, but it's a lot cheaper and faster, and relatively accurate.

Regional Impact

Pittsburgh reinvents itself through green economy
Philadelphia Inquirer (AP) | August 8
The low cost of living makes it easy to recruit workers, said chief financial officer Sean Rollman. He also noted there are large companies in the area, such as Alcoa and Bayer, to partner with, and that colleges including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh provide a natural talent pool. Jim Dietz, vice president of business development and a transplant from New York, conceded many are surprised by the company's location in Pittsburgh. "But when they get here," said Dietz, "they're pleasantly surprised."


Care of garage floors begins when they are poured
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 8
Problems with garage floors probably go back to the days when the concrete was poured. "The biggest problem is the contractors," says Lawrence Cartwright, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland. Mike Greer from Greer Concrete and Construction in North Huntingdon is quick to agree, saying many problems can be avoided by "doing the job right in the first place."


Europeans fail net awareness | August 11
That will give the rest of us time to straighten out of some of the kinks. One of which is that a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has concluded that when it comes to computer security, the boy has cried wolf so many times we barely even register there's a boy there now. So don't go wearing any riding hoods of a crimson colour and visiting the elderly, if you know what's good for you.,24897,25910043-15419,00.html


Dekho Dekho Lecture Jaani
Forbes India | August 12
“I think lectures, as we currently do them, are completely antiquated. They were invented before there was Internet and TV and universities have just been slow at moving away from them,” says Luis Von Ahn, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University.