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News Clips - January 15, 2010

From January 8 to January 14, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 347 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Fed turning to new tool to pilot rates | January 11
The U.S. Federal Reserve looks set to end its reliance on the federal funds rate, long its primary monetary policy tool, when the time comes to tap the brakes as the economy recovers. [...] "In a situation where the Fed does not or cannot or is unwilling to bring down the level of excess reserves, the Fed will not be able to target the fed funds rate directly with monetary policy," said Carnegie Mellon University professor Marvin Goodfriend, a former Richmond Federal Reserve Bank economist.


White House changes how stimulus jobs are counted | January 11
Now we'll never know just how many jobs were funded by the $787 billion stimulus program. Until a policy change last month, Obama administration officials had said they would keep a running count of the number of jobs created or saved by the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. [...] Likewise, Allan Meltzer, a political economy professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said the change doesn't mean much. Meltzer, who opposes the stimulus package, skewered the administration in October for trying to tally jobs saved.


Live well with what you have
Parade Magazine | January 10
If 2009 was about focusing on what we lost, 2010 is about focusing on what we have. While many Americans have been struggling to provide the basics, even those with jobs have had to reassess spending habits--and values. Sharon Danes, a family economist at the University of Minnesota, calls this rebalancing "right sizing." It's a healthy shift from wanting more than we can get to appreciating the things in life that yield true rewards. [...] "People are notoriously bad at figuring out what to do with their money," Carnegie Mellon economist George Loewenstein says. They'll buy a flashy car when a small one would do or a big house that's far from town without considering how isolated they might feel. Of course, they believe they're investing in happiness. But according to a University of Colorado study, a far better investment is one made in relationships.

Education for Leadership

Modcloth shows how to win by losing
The New York Times – You’re the Boss Blog | January 8
Modcloth co-founders Susan Gregg Koger (chief creative officer) and Eric Koger (chief executive) started selling vintage clothing online as undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2005, they were too junior to compete in their school’s high-tech business plan competition, the McGinnis Venture Competition (which is listed in our guide to business plan competitions). Instead, they pitched at Colorado State University’s Venture Adventure — and lost.

Arts and Humanities

How the brain interprets nouns
Softpedia | January 13
Similar to experts who used the Rosetta Stone to understand Egyptian hieroglyphs more than 200 years ago, scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University are using a number of imaging techniques to understand the complex mechanisms and processes that underlie the human brain. The team combines brain imaging methods and machine learning techniques to get a clear view of how the neural pathways inside our brains make sense of nouns, and arrange them accordingly. The work is enormously difficult, but the group says that progress is slow, but sure.

Information Technology

Arctic fiber-optic cable could benefit far-flung Alaskans
Anchorage Daily News | January 14
Alaska Native corporations and a multinational firm are planning to build the first fiber-optic cable between Asia and Europe through the Arctic. [...]  "That's a really ambitious project," said Alex Hills, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and consultant who has worked on Alaska telecommunications issues for decades. "If it happens, it can only help Alaska."


Up on charges | January 11
A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are working on a new type of sodium-ion battery that could prove to be a practical option for storing power from wind and solar farms, says Jay Whitacre, a professor of materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon. Whitacre’s startup, 44 Tech, based in Pittsburgh, will receive $5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the 2009 Recovery Act to develop the technology. The funding is part of a $620 million package for improving the electricity grid.

Regional Impact

Innovation Oakland takes the region to the next digital level
Pop City | January 11
The project celebrates Oakland as a center of innovation and emerging technologies, explains Georgia Petropoulos Muir, executive director of the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID). "We started this a year ago and we're only beginning to touch on the ideas. This will include everything from handhelds to the Internet, touch screens and technologies we don't even know about. Carnegie Mellon is a critical player."


Sibling judges inducted into first Wall of Fame in Wilkinsburg
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 13
The other members of this first class of inductees at Wilkinsburg are his elder brother, Judge Livingstone Johnson, 82; Wilkinsburg Mayor John Thompson; Carnegie Mellon University music professor Thomas Douglas; Valerie McDonald Roberts, manager of Allegheny County's Department of Real Estate; and James Richard, Wilkinsburg's tax collector from 1954 to 1986.


Soon, a single whack to silence your ringing cell phone
DNA India | January 14
Developed by Scott Hudson and Chris Harrison at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues at Intel Labs in Seattle, Washington, the system could work with any cellphone containing an accelerometer. The accelerometer is an increasingly common component that can detect and decode every bump and shake inflicted on the phone. The team developed a simple vocabulary of "whack gestures" designed to rapidly communicate simple commands such as silencing the phone.


Screening plan to address civil liberties
The Globe and Mail | January 12
Stephen Feinberg, a professor at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University who co-authored the study, said in an interview that, according to figures he has seen, roughly 1 per cent of passengers singled out for screening were arrested and none faced charges relating to terrorism.


Cell phone driving is akin to drunken driving
The Hindu | January 10
The dangers of using cell phone while driving are proven. Having a cell phone pressed to the ear while behind the wheel is equivalent to driving in an inebriated condition, according to a study by University of Utah psychologists. A research done by Carnegie Mellon University scientists suggests that listening to the phone grabs 37 per cent of brain activity associated with driving.