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Carnegie Mellon-bred Duolingo is Apple's app of year

USA Today reports that Apple has chosen Pittsburgh-based language learning app Duolingo as its app of the year.
Duolingo is still free, and offers six languages — Spanish, French, German, Italian, English and Portuguese.
Open the app, and it's like a game. It uses pictures, your smartphone's microphone and video clips to help you learn words, recite them and write them out as well.
Original source: USA Today
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A 31-mile run, just like Rocky Balboa's

A 'Fat Ass' run stemming from a Philly Mag blog post -- plotting Rocky's run from the film Rocky II -- took place a couple weeks ago, and earned some national press from the Wall Street Journal.

The run through distal parts of the city seems almost impossible, even for someone as tough as Rocky.

Enter the ultra-running movement to show it is possible. Nearly four decades after the first Rocky movie, a group of runners set out Saturday to re-create Rocky's training run—all 31 miles of it, the equivalent of 50 kilometers...

Before sunrise Saturday, about 150 runners huddled in the cold near the South Philly house that Rocky moves into with his bride, Adrian, played by Talia Shire. This is where he starts his training run, hoping to beat Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers.

Many runners were decked out in old-school gray sweats and red headbands like the ones Rocky wore. Phil Yurkon of Scranton, Pa., wore boxing gloves and had "Lithuanian Stallion" written on the back of his sweatshirt, a play on Rocky's "Italian Stallion" nickname and a homage to Mr. Yurkon's ancestry. The 32-year-old hadn't run more than 17 miles before this run; he heard about the Rocky run the day before and decided to try it.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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UPenn psychologist's book: To be likable, get others to talk about themselves

Fast Company thinks University of Pennsylvania psychologist Adam Grant's organizational psychology book Give and Take is among the best of the year.
Small talk gets gruesome, especially when we're crutching along asking so, what do you do? The research of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman helps us circumvent that weirdness, as people's evaluations of themselves get primed by the questions you ask.
Original source: Fast Company
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German-themed Christmas villages in Philly, Baltimore, spread joy

The Washington Post writes about the wonder of German-inspired Christmas villages in Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Both villages center on a compact collection of twee timber huts the color of gingerbread, with white lights icing the edges. In Philadelphia, the elfin structures occupied by more than 60 retailers encircle the 38-foot-tall Christmas tree in Love Park. The Baltimore venue sits on the lip of the harbor, within earshot of the trumpet blare of the ferry. A few of the 42 vendors brave the outdoors, including a purveyor of South American woolens, a mulled wine stand and a Nepalese shop of felt objects. But most are tucked inside a big-top tent illuminated by a Milky Way of lights.
Original source: Washington Post
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Want bars and pizza? Pittsburgh is tops in the U.S.

Pittsburgh ranked No.1 and No. 2, respectively, on the lists of top U.S. cities for pizza and bars, reports InfoGroup.

Many of the cities with a high concentration of bars compared to population also lead the list of pizza restaurants per capita. These cities were most often found in Rust Belt cities and towns housing large breweries. Pittsburgh leads the list, with 12 bars per 10,000 residents. Cities famous for pizza, such as New York and Chicago, don’t appear in the top five in that category. Orlando, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Buffalo top the list, all with at least seven pizza parlors per 10,000 in population.
Original source: InfoGroup
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UPenn, Carnegie Mellon among business schools vying for startup supremacy

The Wall Street Journal keeps tabs on the nation's top business schools, including those at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania.
The best ideas often come at the intersection of disciplines, so aspiring entrepreneurs might consider B-schools that share campuses with top medical or engineering programs. Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is co-led by computer-science and business faculty.
Original source: Wall Street Journal
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'Something of a miracle' in UPenn's nanotechnology center

Businessweek reports on the $92 million Krishna P.Singh Center for Nanotechnology,the University of Pennsylvania's latest architectural jewel.
The building unfolds its full radiance in the lobby, called the galleria, which extends as a gathering space around the courtyard and opens upward full height. The exterior undulations shape this narrow atrium into a sculpture of window walls and suspended ceiling planes that cross over and under each other like slightly bent legs.
Original source: Businessweek
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Penn co-authored study finds a key to successful startups

Two management professors from the University of Pennsylvania co-authored a study that revealed tech-focused founders lead to more successful startups, reports Phys.org.
The research revealed that a technically focused team can more quickly reach market milestones, from design and prototype completion – all the way to product launch. On the other hand, more diverse founding teams are better prepared to compete against mature companies, which similarly have well-established diverse skills in areas like marketing, operations, sales, engineering and other skills.
Original source: Phys.org
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Breaking down student debt load by college, region

A research group's study revealed graduates of Pennsylvania colleges were among those more likely to borrow money to pay school costs and carried more debt load, reports The New York Times.
Average debt for graduates who had taken loans ranged from $41,500 to $49,450 at the 20 private, high-debt colleges listed. They are concentrated in the Northeast, like Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and Utica College in New York.
At the 20 named high-debt public colleges, student loans averaged $33,650 to $41,650. Half of them are state schools of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Original source: The New York Times
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Another Pittsburgh love letter

Lancaster County-bred Allison Bustin, a volunteer coordinator, writes in Huffington Post about her deep affection for Pittsburgh.
This is my city. Not by birth, I was born in Baltimore, but my family is from West Virginia, and Pittsburgh is the big city. I came here for the first time when I was 18 to visit and tour the University of Pittsburgh. It was December. It wasn't snowing, but everything and everyone was apocalyptically pale and frosted. A pathfinder took my Mom and me around campus. We were happy to walk, just to stay warm. The wind didn't do the Pathfinder any favors, but I didn't need to hear anything anyway. I was set on Pitt in a second. It was the furthest away that I could get from home & still pay in-state tuition, and it was beautiful even on such an ugly day.
Original source: Huffington Post
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Erie No. 2, Pittsburgh No. 8 on most recent snowiest cities list

Erie dropped from the top spot to No. 2 and Pittsburgh held steady at No. 8 on the annual list of snowiest cities in the U.S., according to Golden Snow Globe.
(City, Population, 2013-2014 Snowfall Totals / Average Snow to Date)
1-5) Billings, Mon. (104,170) 17.3 12.2
2-1) Erie, Pa. (101,786) 15.6 9.9
3-2) Syracuse, N.Y. (145,170) 14.5 11.6
4-3) Rochester, N.Y. (210,565) 13.5 8.4
5-4) Anchorage, Alaska (291,826) 11.2 22.5
6-6) Akron, Ohio (199,110) 10.7 3.9
7-7) Buffalo, New York (261,310) 10.0 10.0
8-8) Pittsburgh,Pa (305,704) 9.4 3.1
9-9) South Bend, Indiana (101,168) 9.2 5.9
10-10) Sioux Falls, S.D. (153,888) 7.9 9.2

Original source: Golden Snow Globe
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Pittsburg ranks No. 5 among best cities for retirement

Livability ranks Pittsburgh No. 5 on its list of America's best cities in which to retire.
The city scored well in hospitals and cultural engagement. The Pittsburgh metro area has 43 hospitals, and among those eight are top ranked by U.S. News & World Report. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the highest-rated hospital in the city, is nationally ranked in 15 specialties, including geriatrics, neurology and pulmonology.
Original source: Livability
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Meadowbrook hospital among those using probiotics to help prevent infections, other ailments

The Wall Street Journal writes about Holy Redeemer Hospital's use of probiotics, commonly found in foods like yogurt, and their ability to treat a variety of ailments.
Probiotics also are being studied in patients who suffer from a less severe but often debilitating complication, antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Analyses by researchers at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2011 found that using probiotics for periods ranging from a few days to three weeks reduced a patient's odds of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%. And a RAND Corp. study last year of many published studies also found probiotics useful in preventing or treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
Original source: Wall Street Journal
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Philadelphia-based Monell center's 'electronic nose' aims to find if ovarian cancer has a smell

The Monell Chemical Senses Center and a team including University of Pennsylvania scientists are using an electronic nose to determine whether ovarian cancer has a smell, reports The New York Times.
Discovering earlier and better markers for all kinds of cancer, especially in blood, is a priority, said Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. Ovarian cancer already has a blood test that has turned out to be not as useful as hoped — giving out both false positives and negatives. A smell-based test would need to perform better.
Original source: The New York Times
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Eagles on top of NFC East, clean energy

BusinessWeek writes about the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles and the team's innovative use of alternative energy and power distribution at its stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.
The stadium’s current power capacity pushes up to the limit for “customer-generators,” or small producers, in Pennsylvania. More solar panels would trigger different regulations, Smolenski said. In particular, the stadium could no longer participate in so-called net-metering, which allows small producers to sell power back into the grid. It would instead belong to a category of power producers that must participate in wholesale electricity markets, according to an NRG Energy spokesperson.
Original source: Business Week
Read the full story here.
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