Come On Back

It’s homecoming at Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus this weekend. The festivities will begin on Thursday, October 29 and continue through Sunday, November 1.

What don’t you want to miss?

The Alumni Awards
Friday, October 30
University Center, Rangos Hall
5:30 p.m.

Among this year’s alumni award honorees is robotics pioneer William “Red” L. Whittaker (E’75,’79). Whittaker has developed unmanned robots to work in dangerous sites, rugged terrains, both on- and off-road. And now he has plans to land and operate a robot on the moon.

The Pausch Bridge Dedication
Friday, October 30
Purnell Center for the Arts, Main Entrance
7:30 p.m.

President Jared L. Cohon will preside over the dedication of the Randy Pausch Memorial Bridge – a 230-foot-long pedestrian bridge connects the Purnell Center for the Arts with the new Gates Center for Computer Science. A great reminder to the campus community of the impact alumnus and professor Randy Pausch had on Carnegie Mellon and the world.

Scotch ‘n’ Soda Presents “The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Saturday, October 31
University Center, McConomy Auditorium
7 p.m.

A wildly warm-hearted theatrical experience complete with a love story, a play-within-a-play, and an unfinished Dickens mystery. Get tickets and view other show times on the Scotch ‘n’ Soda website.

For more homecoming events, find the complete schedule and a campus map online.

It’s not too late to come and explore changes to the campus landscape, reconnect with classmates and friends, enjoy familiar traditions -- and perhaps even start a few new ones.

If you haven’t already registered, registration is available on-site.

Hope to see you here!


Pres. Cohon Leads Energy Study

Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon led a study that found energy pollution is responsible for at least 18,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.

If that’s not enough, the study also revealed about $120 billion per year is spent on health costs as a result of burning fossil fuels.

So what’s the down and dirty?

The study – which was ordered by Congress in 2005 – measured the cost of a kilowatt-hour (or gallon) of gas or diesel fuel that isn’t included in the price.

They found that coal plants cost an average 3.2 cents per kilowatt-hour in damages (with the worst plants reaching up to 12 cents), while gas averages 0.16 cents per kilowatt-hour. Simply put: oil and coal caused equal damage, but coal burning resulted in the highest external costs.

Additionally, air pollutants emitted by power plants and vehicles – such as small soot particles, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide – are responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year.

The study was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences and titled “Hidden Costs of Energy.” Read more about it in the New York Times or the USA Today.


Nobel Notes

While many of the bronze replica Nobel Prizes are on display, only a few universities have the honor of displaying a gold Nobel Prize Medal. Carnegie Mellon is one of them.

Through a generous bequest from the late Professor John A. Pople, the medal he received for winning the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was presented to the university by Pople’s children.

A former professor, Pople was affiliated with Carnegie Mellon and the Mellon Institute for more than 30 years. Pople developed the computational methods that made the theoretical study of molecules possible at a time when people were just beginning to use computers to solve complex scientific problems.

The program Pople developed – called GAUSSIAN – was first published in 1970 and is still used today to study molecules.

And the Nobel Prize accolades don’t end there.

Oliver Eaton Williamson (TPR’63) shares this year’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. While earning his Ph.D. in economics at Carnegie Mellon, Williamson conducted research under the instruction of several academic pioneers, who were revolutionizing the principles of accepted economic theory in the 1960s.

Ada Yonath, a post-doctoral fellow at the Mellon Institute in 1969, was named one of three winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Yonath was able to generate X-ray crystallographic images of the ribosome structure as early as the 1970s – a task the Nobel committee had then considered “impossible.”

Williamson and Yonath join 16 other Nobel Prize winners with ties to Carnegie Mellon. Check out “Commentary: Nobel award recognizes U.S. dominance” by Carnegie Mellon Professor Kiron Skinner on CNN.


A Good Excuse for Sleeping In

Bringing you a somewhat oldie-but-goodie today as we gear up for cold and flu season.

You could stock up on vitamin C or get in line for a flu shot -- but the answer to staying healthy this season may be right at home.

A Carnegie Mellon study found a correlation between hours slept at night and likeliness of getting sick.

Simply put: Those who get 7 or fewer hours of sleep at night are nearly 3 times more likely than those who slept 8 or more hours.

Sheldon Cohen
is a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon and the lead author of this study - which was published in the Jan. 12, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Read more about the study or listen to an interview with Cohen on iTunes U.