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News Clips - October 22, 2010

From October 15 to October 21, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 200 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Mobile games teach Chinese children to read
International Business Times | October 19
Mobile phone games could provide a way for Chinese children to learn how to read, especially in rural areas. Research at Carnegie Mellon University found that two of the games showed promise with children in Xin'an, an underdeveloped region in Henan province. Further studies in Beijing also showed that kids who played the games increased their knowledge of Chinese Characters.


Meet NELL - the computer that's taught itself to tweet 'Barack Obama is a politicianus' | October 18
In a basement in Pittsburgh, US, a computer is teaching itself how to talk. Not only talk, but write, comprehend, and most importantly, tweet. Supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Google, a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed the Never-Ending Learning System. They prefer to call her NELL, along with a rapidly growing online fanbase of geeks, language experts and AI fanboys dreaming of a Skynet-controlled future.


Facebook snafu highlights growing privacy concerns
National Public Radio - Morning Edition | October 19
When you accept an invitation to play Farmville, a notice comes up.  Farmville is requesting permission to access your basic information, such as name, gender and list of friends. Although we may worry about giving the information up, we also want to play. "We tend to weigh more heavily the pleasure that we'll get out of the immediate reward than the risk that may be long-term and further off," said Lorrie Cranor, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on marketing strategies and privacy.

Education for Leadership

Technology makes it hard to find quality alone time
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | October 17
Jessica Jackson, a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, says there's still a stigma attached to being by yourself. "When I was a freshman and sophomore, I used to hate eating by myself because I felt I looked to other people like I didn't have any friends," she says. When Jackson was a teenager in New York City, she would sometimes take solo forays to art galleries or her favorite book store. "I used to hang out with myself in the city a lot, going to art galleries and doing my own art crawl in Chelsea," Jackson says. "My family always hated that . 'Something might happen to if you're alone. Are you a loner? Is there something wrong with you?'"

Arts and Humanities

Will Chileans honor pact to share PR goldmine?
AOL News | October 15
"This is the beginning of the unraveling," said George Loewenstein, economics and psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Traditional economics models show that miners will defect; self-interest usually trumps a group promise, he said. Complicating things will be the human tendency of the miners to present themselves in interviews as more heroic than they were. That will anger the other miners, creating ill will that could undermine the pact, he said.


For statisticians, the world is truly a numbers game
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | October 21
How did you celebrate the first World Statistics Day? If you were like many Americans, you relied on statistics to compare prices or job availability on Wednesday, the very day the United Nations had designated to point out the importance of statistics around the world. But if you were on the Carnegie Mellon University campus, well, statistics majors just aren't going to let an opportunity like 10/20/2010 go by with business as usual. "We knew right away we wanted to throw some event in celebration, create an event that was kind of cool for statisticians but also for all of our students to get into," said Hannah Pileggi, a senior from O'Hara majoring in statistics.

Information Technology

Bilingual roboreceptionist is eager to address your cross-cultural needs
Popular Science | October 18
Need help with something? Your roboreceptionist is here to assist you. Researchers at the U. of Arizona and Carnegie Mellon University are developing a robot receptionist  that is more than just a pre-programmed phone answering system. “Hala,” the prototype roboreceptionist at Carnegie Mellon’s Qatar outpost, is a bicultural, bilingual robotic interface that interacts with visitors based on each person’s linguistic preference and cultural customs.


Making fluorescent microscopy less finicky | October 19
Tweaking fluorescent probes to improve performance has become a science in itself for many researchers. “The physical process is cool: you absorb a photon, and then you get one back, but it’s a different color from the one you put in,” says Bruce Armitage, professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and one of a growing number of scientists enhancing the current palette of fluorescent molecules. “That captivated me from the time I was an undergraduate."


Lengthy recovery for Hungary's sludge-covered land
Homeland Security Newswire | October 19
“The deposition salts and the high pH are going to render the land unproductive for agriculture,” says Dr. David Dzombak, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “It’s going to kill the plants that are there now, and even if you just want to re-plant grass or have a city park or landscaping, you won’t be able to until you do something to address those impacts.” The first step in addressing those impacts is isolating and removing the source of the contamination. For a swath of territory approaching the size of the island of Manhattan, this is going to be a very expensive first step for Hungary.


GlobalPittsburgh's goal: Help internationals feel welcome
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | October 17
Just days after David Reitter, 32, of Bloomfield, arrived in Pittsburgh for the first time, he was on an outing to Raccoon Creek State Park with GlobalPittsburgh, a local organization that seeks to "attract, engage, [and] retain" internationals. "I'm incredibly happy that people from Pittsburgh are so welcoming, so friendly," Mr. Reitter said. "You don't find that everywhere in the world." The assertion is one Mr. Reitter can back up, perhaps more so than the average Pittsburgh resident - he left Germany in 2002 and has since lived in Scotland, Ireland and Boston. He came to Pittsburgh in 2008 and works at the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, studying the science of cognition.


CMU's Cohon elected to collegiate society
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | October 20
The Association of American Universities board Tuesday elected Carnegie Mellon University President Jared L. Cohon chairman of the association's executive committee. Only 63 schools are members of the invitation-only AAU, a Washington-based nonprofit organization of research universities viewed as innovative institutions and scholarship leaders.