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News Clips - December 17, 2010

From December 10 to December 16, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 412 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Phones turn students into slaves
People’s Daily | December 14
However, cellphone dependence threatens peoples' safety and health, according to some reports. An investigation by Carnegie Mellon University in the US shows that if drivers use cellphones while driving their attention is decreased by 37 percent, increasing the chances for car accidents. Quite a few people listen to music through mobile phones at a volume of about 100 decibels, while the volume of normal communication is 60 decibels.


Thinking Food
ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” | December 10
VIDEO:  Carnegie Mellon faculty member Carey Morewedge discusses a study he led that found thinking about food can diminish cravings. The segment from Friday, Dec. 10 begins at approximately 12:44 of 18:05.

Education for Leadership

CMU Students Present Latest Interactive Technology in Annual “Building Virtual Worlds” Show | December 10
BVW 2010, a freewheeling show produced by students in Carnegie Mellon University’s Building Virtual Worlds (BVW) class, will showcase their latest ideas in interactive digital entertainment during performances on Saturday, Dec. 11 in the Philip Chosky Theater of the university’s Purnell Center for the Arts.

Arts and Humanities

Curiosity's Evil Twin Can Drive You Insane | December 12
Both views have studies to support them. The developer of the information gap theory, Carnegie Mellon University behavioral economist George Loewenstein, conducted an experiment in 1992 in which he asked people to click on squares on a computer screen to familiarize themselves with the computer's mouse. In reality, Loewenstein was trying to simulate the volunteers' curiosity: For some participants, there was a picture of an animal behind each square. For others, there was a portion of a photo of an animal. Loewenstein and his colleagues suspected that people who uncovered bits and pieces of a picture with each click would click more to find out what the full picture was. They were right. It seems, Litman said, that a little bit of information whets the brain's appetite for more.

Information Technology

Attacking Websites Is Surprisingly Easy Social Protest
NPR’s “All Things Considered” | December 12
Think of a denial-of-service attack like a phone call. When many computers attempt to connect to the same website, it's as if many people are calling the same person. "Now, when another person tries to call, they're going to get a busy signal," Nicolas Christin tells NPR's Audie Cornish. Christin is associate director of the Information Networking Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He says denial-of-service attacks work by replicating that principle, but on a much larger scale. Traditionally, Christin says, a few lone attackers release a worm or virus that infiltrates other computers on the Internet, turning them into a "zombie network" that repeatedly bombs a single website with data.


The Effects of Caffeine & Aspartame | December 10
A dose of 100 mg to 200 mg of caffeine, equivalent to one to two cups of coffee, can heighten alertness, make you feel more awake and sharpen your thought processes. The body produces energy by converting glucose, or sugar and fats, into molecules of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP - the molecule that stores energy. All cells of the body contain tiny organelles called mitochondria that produce molecules of ATP. Caffeine helps the process of converting glucose and fat into ATP, or energy. However, the energy effects of caffeine are short lived, according to the Virtual Spectrometry Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University.


Are carbon footprints for electronics impossible to measure?
Smart Planet Blog | December 13
Calculating carbon footprints is easy enough when the stakes are low, when accuracy doesn’t matter, or when the resulting number will cease to exist as soon as you close your browser window. Even though the long-term effects of misgauging or disregarding our carbon emissions are obvious and well documented, the immediate consequences of botching a carbon footprint analysis are basically nil. That said, being able to ascertain the carbon footprint of a person, product or thing is a desirable goal, if for purposes of awareness and accurate offsetting. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon contend that in at least one category–electronics–figuring out this footprint is incredibly difficult.

Regional Impact

Five of My Favorite Pittsburgh Rankings
Pop City | December 15
#1 in VC Investment Growth in 2010! Is that unbelievable, or what?  According to Pittsburgh Today (our regional benchmarking organization), as of October of this year, Pittsburgh outperformed all other regions in Venture Capital Investment Growth – that means more ideas, innovation and start-ups here in Pittsburgh. No doubt our universities like Pitt and Carnegie Mellon play a major role in helping attract VC funding for innovative start ups.  So too does the work of many regional economic development organizations like the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.


Swimming robot opens new vistas at aquarium
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | December 13
The new neighbor roaming the coral reef inside at the PPG Aquarium is a yellow, sci-fi stingray-looking, underwater robot named CLEO. It's part of a new initiative at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium that gives visitors an opportunity to assist with coral reef conservation while getting a hands-on feel for a scientist's job. A team of graduate students, engineers and aquarists from the zoo and the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, developed ReefBot - an interactive exhibit for children of all ages designed to research and explore coral reefs.