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News Clips - February 12, 2010

From February 4 to February 11, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 386 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Despite glitches, electronics make cars safer
NPR – Morning Edition | February 11
William "Red" Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon is an expert in robotic systems. He says cars with sophisticated electronics are just the latest step in the evolution of the automobile. "It doesn't matter whether it's first hydraulic brakes, or first power steering, or first automated braking, or first tip-over stability control," says Whittaker. "At first there will be tremendous suspicion, there will be great concern." But then, the concern will give way to appreciation. Drivers will come to expect new cars to include technologies that make it easier to navigate while driving, steer with minimal effort, and stop quickly on slippery roads.


The quest to read the human mind
Popular Science | February 9
So where are they recorded? Tom Mitchell, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, along with his colleague Marcel Just, is using fMRI and multi-voxel pattern recognition to answer that question. By mapping the brain’s response to images, words and emotions, Mitchell believes his lab could be decoding thoughts, not just pictures, within the decade.

Education for Leadership

Old-style computers get new life in developing countries
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 10
It's all part of a project called PlayPower, co-founded by Carnegie Mellon University graduate student Derek Lomas, designed to create free educational software for impoverished families in India and other developing nations.


Cultural revolutionary
The Economist | February 4
The boss of Microsoft’s online-services arm, Qi Lu, tends to flourish in the face of adversity. When he was five, to protect him from the turmoil of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, his parents sent him to live in a village where he grew up in poverty. Still, he managed to enter Shanghai’s Fudan University where he graduated in computer science and became a lecturer. That might have been it. But he impressed a visiting professor and was offered a scholarship at Carnegie Mellon University. With a PhD in his pocket, he soon joined Yahoo!, then a rising star of the internet, and ended up leading the development of the firm’s search and advertising technology.

Arts and Humanities

How to stop procrastinating, study and pass
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 9
Linda Hooper, Carnegie Mellon University's director of academic development, compared exam-anxious students to hamsters on treadmills. Does that sound familiar? If so, a guide toward recovery, and exam success, is outlined below. Feel free to disregard it. "I can't tell you how many people don't listen to me," said Carnegie Mellon professor Steven Klepper, who has taught an introductory economics course for 30 years and gives exam advice that is studiously ignored.


Bonus botching
True/Slant | February 8
To see the effect of bonuses on performance, Nina Mazar (assistant professor of marketing, Toronto University), Uri Gneezy (professor of economics and strategy, University of California, San Diego), George Loewenstein (professor of economics, Carnegie Mellon, Pennsylvania) and I conducted three experiments. In one we gave subjects tasks that demanded attention, memory, concentration and creativity. We asked them, for example, to assemble puzzles and to play memory games while throwing tennis balls at a target. We promised about a third of them one day’s pay if they performed well.

Information Technology

Experts warn: Be careful opening those electronic greetings
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 9
Lorrie Cranor never sends electronic cards, and she rarely opens the ones sent to her. For the Carnegie Mellon University associate professor of computer science and engineering to feel confident that those little greetings aren't bad news, she needs checks and double-checks. She admits she's probably deleted legitimate e-cards from friends. Oh, well. "It's my job to be paranoid about these things," she said.


The future human: linking man with machine
News 8 Austin | February 10
Soon prosthetics will be controlled using the mind. Neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, have already successfully demonstrated that a pair of monkeys with electrodes in their brains are able to control a robotic arm as if it were their own. Scientists in the United Kingdom are also working to link prosthetic limbs with a person's actual skeleton.


Newsmaker: Alison Barth
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 6
Associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Background: Alison Barth earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Brown University in 1991. She was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship from the National Science Foundation, and earned her doctorate in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1997. She joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 2002. Noteworthy: Barth recently received a research award from Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


Improving life cycle assessment of US grid electricity
Eco Friendly Mag | February 6
Electricity generation and distribution in the US represents nearly 40% of US CO2 emissions, as well as large shares of the other pollutants. Assessing the limits of current knowledge about US grid electricity in life cycle assessment and carbon footprinting, however, a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have shown that differences in standards, protocols, and reporting organizations—and the use of arbitrary political borders—can lead to important differences in estimates of CO2, SO2, and NOx emissions factors, with a corresponding effect on policies.

Regional Impact

Carnegie Mellon could help improve Pittsburgh's snow plowing
WTAE-TV News | February 9
Carnegie Mellon University is offering its help to find ways to improve Pittsburgh's snow-removal blueprint. City Councilman Bill Peduto said Carnegie Mellon president Jared Cohon contacted him Tuesday morning and said he thinks his staff can come up with a better way to clear the city's streets.


Kindergartners show promise for city scholarship program
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 7
"Any uptick is hopeful, but 39 kids out of 26,123 (in the district) is a very tiny percent," said Robert Strauss, professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. "By itself, it doesn't constitute a trend."


Don’t take that call
Bangalore Mirror | February 11
“Use of cell phones doesn’t just distract the eyes. The conversation itself also distracts the brain. Making the cell phone hands-free will not help eliminate the brain distraction.” — Psychology Professor Marcel Just, co-director of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging.


The inflationary depression
Center for Global Research | February 10
The Federal Reserve is considering adopting a new benchmark interest rate in what may be the most significant change in monetary policy in 30 years… War II, with former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker’s money supply experiment shaded.  ‘The question for the Federal Reserve is what is the most efficient way to get your policy rate into other short-term interest rates,’ said Marvin Goodfriend, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University and former Richmond Fed policy adviser.


Scientists measure viral energy
United Press International | February 8
Carnegie Mellon University Associate Professor Alex Evilevitch said his team's accomplishment could lead to fully understanding viral infections, resulting in new drugs  to interfere with the process. "We are studying the physics of viruses, not the biology of viruses," said Evilevitch. "By treating viruses as physical objects, we can identify physical properties and mechanisms of infection that are common to a variety of viruses, regardless of their biological makeup, which could lead to the development of broad spectrum antiviral drugs."