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News Clips - October 8, 2010

From October 1 to October 7, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 423 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Africa... States of independence
Aljazeera | October 5
Professor Lansiné Kaba is a distinguished scholar and writer, who was born and educated in Guinea, Senegal and France during French colonial rule. Winner of the prestigious Herskovits award given by the African Studies Association to scholarly work on Africa published in English, Kaba is the author of many works on Guinea, Islam and politics in Africa. At Carnegie Mellon, Qatar, Kaba teaches courses on Islam, Africa and the Arab world, and a course on history and literature of liberation.


Intel ponders atom-based computing clusters
eWeek Europe | October 1
An Intel executive has reportedly confirmed that the chip giant is not interested in pushing its energy-efficient Atom processor for the server space. Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Centre Group, said in an interview with IDG News that while there are some vendors that are using Atom chips in server designs, and chip designer ARM is looking to push its processor designs into the data centre, most businesses are looking for systems with the power and energy efficiency of the latest Xeon chips. […] The project, dubbed FAWN - or Fast Array of Wimpy Nodes - was on display at an open house 28 September at the Intel Labs facility. With power consumption becoming an increasingly important one in data centres, Intel Labs and Carnegie Mellon University are investigating whether certain workloads can be taken from a small number of more powerful servers and put onto a cluster of more, smaller and lower-power nodes that aggregate large amounts of compute power, memory and I/O.


Tracking, and reducing, energy consumption at home
Marketplace Public Radio | September 30
It is October, and while most kids would say that means only one thing -- Halloween! -- in fact there's something else almost as terrific: Energy Awareness Month! […] But even if utilities do manage to their customers' trust, it's not clear that giving them more data will lead them to slash their power use, even if that data is up-to-the-minute and includes prices. George Loewenstein: The reason is is that energy is extremely inexpensive. George Loewenstein is a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.


How the Gates Foundation will spend its education-technology dollars
The Chronicle of Higher Education – Wired Campus Blog | October 1
This fall the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and several partners will announce a new project aimed at harnessing technology to help prepare students for college and get them to graduation. The senior program officer leading that effort is Josh Jarrett, a former software entrepreneur with a Harvard M.B.A. who joined Gates after five years with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In an interview, he previewed that program and offered his take on the online-learning scene. [...] Q: There are lots of approaches to learning online. What are some you find promising? A: Much of the impetus of going online in the first place was around access. I think that we’ve reached critical mass there. Folks are starting to turn their attention toward quality. For instance, the Open Learning Initiative, at Carnegie Mellon, represents what strategies afford themselves in an online context. The first thing they do is team-based development of courses, and then sharing those many times. We’re not stuck having to recreate the wheel in every classroom.


Aiming to learn as we do, a machine teaches itself
The New York Times | October 4
Give a computer a task that can be crisply defined — win at chess, predict the weather — and the machine bests humans nearly every time. Yet when problems are nuanced or ambiguous, or require combining varied sources of information, computers are no match for human intelligence. […] Since the start of the year, a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University — supported by grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency  and Google, and tapping into a research supercomputing cluster provided by Yahoo — has been fine-tuning a computer system that is trying to master semantics by learning more like a human. Its beating hardware heart is a sleek, silver-gray computer — calculating 24 hours a day, seven days a week — that resides in a basement computer center at the university, in Pittsburgh. The computer was primed by the researchers with some basic knowledge in various categories and set loose on the Web with a mission to teach itself.


Droid rage
The Colbert Report | September 30
SCS faculty member Howie Choset’s snake robots are featured in this comedic segment about advances in robotics around the world. The Carnegie Mellon references begin at about 2:45 in the video.


New study validates factors that enhance the intelligence of a group
National Science Foundation | October 1
According to new study co-authored by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Union College, group intelligence may not be quantified as the sum or average of the cognitive abilities of its members. By studying small teams of randomly assembled individuals, researchers discovered that groups featuring the right kind of internal dynamics perform well on a wide range of assignments, regardless of the sum or average individual cognitive abilities of the group's members.

Education for Leadership

From murals to camps
The Jewish Chronicle | October 7
Over 10 days in August, Caroline Kessler’s German knowledge was pushed into the present — she participated in Germany Close Up, a program that brings American Jews to Germany to understand how the country has changed, grown and become a friendlier place to Jews in the decades since the Holocaust. Kessler’s trip, co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, had a political history focus and planted her in Berlin, where she spent the trip, “going to federal foreign offices and learning how the German government works,” said Kessler. But before the 20-year-old Carnegie Mellon University student even got to Germany, she had to overcome some hang-ups. “I had this tinge of doubt about ever visiting Germany on my own. I didn’t want to go because of all the history,” said Kessler. “How could a city that let what happened happen be an alright place for a Jew to travel?"


Homebrew technology: Love letter meets jewelry | October 3
Nothing says "I love you" like jewelry – and this jewelry does it literally. Thanks to a new design by Cheng Xu, a student in tangible interactive design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you can forget whispering sweet nothings into your lover's ear: your beloved can now wear your words as earrings instead. Xu's invention, called Speaker, turns spoken words into jewelry with a hidden meaning. A user speaks into a microphone linked to an Arduino microcontroller that analyses changes in volume. It controls several small motors that push and bend a wire to represent the sound of the user's words: effectively acting as a real-time jeweler.

Arts and Humanities

Commentary: Brutal honesty par for the course
Scripps Howard News Service/The Austin-American Statesman | October 2
Golf is different. In a win-at-all-costs world, the game holds itself to a higher standard, demanding that competitors know every rule and call penalties on themselves. "Even the slightest imputation of cheating, maybe you can get away with that in other sports, but not in golf," said Steve Schlossman, a history professor at Carnegie Mellon University who chronicles the game. "That will be used against you." For Zach, informing tournament officials about the extra club would mean returning his medal. His golf pro told him to go home, think it over.


He who gets slapped
The Pittsburgh City Paper | October 7
There's really nothing cheerful about Leonid Andreyev's He Who Gets Slapped, but the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama production is so much fun to watch and listen to. Director Tony McKay (associate professor of acting) blends the sordid with spectacle in this 1915 Russian tragedy set in a "threadbare circus," a perfect arena for the unusual skills fostered in CMU dramats.


Larimer gets greener with $1.8M automotive training center, hiring
Pop City | October 6
Mike Fiore of Mike's Auto Body had a dream. At the urging of his daughter AnneMargaret, he wanted to build a sustainable training center for mechanics in his Larimer neighborhood on Pittsburgh's East End across from his shop, a fixture on Meadow Avenue for 30 years, the first green auto center in the region. […] The expansion is green in every respect, from the rain-garden to enhanced day-lighting features, tree-planting and inviting colors and decor on the inside. Carnegie Mellon's Charge Car project plans to make Mike's a community partner in retrofitting gasoline powered vehicles into electric cars.

Regional Impact

Regional insights: Jump-start job creation through startup businesses
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | October 3
After some very positive signs of recovery in the spring, job growth in the Pittsburgh region has been stagnant during the summer. In August, we still had more than 31,000 fewer jobs than we did in 2008 and 14,000 fewer jobs than we did in 1999. That's bad news for the nearly 100,000 workers in the region who are unemployed. Where should we look to jump-start job growth here? ***Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College adjunct faculty member Harold Miller wrote this opinion article.


Pitt, CMU make most of proximity
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | October 3
Chris Little is working simultaneously on two graduate degrees that require him to travel between two of the nation's leading research universities. The good news is those campuses are footsteps apart. His 10-minute walks between classes at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are just one manifestation of a situation that is highly unusual -- if not unique -- among America's major research universities.


'Postal Service' e-mail delivers computer virus
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | October 6
E-mails claiming to be from the post office contain a virus, and computer experts from Carnegie Mellon University and others are trying to contain the bug. The advice from a postal inspector is to not open the e-mail or its attachment, and don't forward it to the U.S. Postal Service, FBI or police to get them to investigate. "We already know this is out there," said Postal Service Inspector Andrew Richards.


TechBridgeWorld provides technology to underprivileged people
WDUQ News Blog | October 4
Bernardine Dias has made it her mission since youth to provide modern technologies to underprivileged nations and she is now achieving her goal with TechBridgeWorld, a Carnegie Mellon research group. After growing up in Sri Lanka at the base of the economic pyramid and seeing how the lack of modern technologies can damage a society, Dias has not stopped trying to change things.


Project Olympus a show-and-tell of tech talent
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | October 7
Simple nametags were not enough for the crowd filling this week's Project Olympus show-and-tell. Instead of just writing a given name -- how boring -- some attendees included a Twitter handle. The 10th demonstration of Carnegie Mellon University's early-stage, high-tech companies featured innovators who aspire to mimic Twitter's enormous success, even if the explanations of their concepts quickly exceeded 140 characters. Headed by CMU computer science professor Lenore Blum, Project Olympus has been credited with helping form more than 38 faculty and student spinoff companies since 2007. The latest gathering featured projects hoping to use computer science to solve some of the world's greatest mysteries -- and make some money off work done in the lab.