Campus News in Brief

Tepper hosts urban symposium

Preparation begins today for the 2008 Cornerstones Symposium, “Entrepreneurial Pittsburgh: Building Bridges to a City’s New Future,” an event hosted by the Tepper School of Business. Now in its seventh year, the symposium brings together professionals from a variety of disciplines including architecture, entrepreneurship, and governmental policymaking.

Attendees share ideas on methods and techniques for the improvement of city economies and infrastructure with references to energy sources, health services, robotics, and electronic graphic systems.

Experts at this year’s symposium will use Pittsburgh as an example during discussions; the city has experienced large amounts of growth in venture-funded businesses.

Today, the Duquesne Club will host a pre-symposium press conference featuring State Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis Yablonsky and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. A VIP reception following the conference will focus on ways in which to connect business, policy, and academic fields to benefit the global economy.

The one-day Cornerstones Symposium tomorrow will present eminent speakers from around the globe, including representatives from the University of Pittsburgh, Westinghouse Electric Company, and Osaka University in Japan.

It will take place in Rangos Ballroom, and students will be admitted free of charge.

Researchers study cell phones

A recent study by Carnegie Mellon researchers has confirmed that hands-free or voice-activated cell phones are still dangerous for drivers.

Although other activities, such as eating or listening to the radio, can also distract drivers, researchers argue that distractions caused by cell phones are more significant because they require social interactions.

To quantify the potential harm that cell phones pose for drivers, Carnegie Mellon scientists enlisted the help of 29 study volunteers.

While inside an MRI brain scanner, each individual used a driving simulator to steer a virtual car along steep, winding roads; at the same time, the participants were asked to decide whether a sentence was true or false.

Researchers found that the volunteers asked to interpret sentences showed a 37 percent decrease in activity of the brain’s parietal lobe, a section associated with skills such as spatial sense and navigation, both of which are needed for driving.

This disproves the previous idea that the brain should be able to drive and listen simultaneously because the tasks are associated with two different networks