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Next@CNN: Dogs Assist in Fight Against Terror; High-Tech Tactics Keep Make Airliners Safer; New Sleds Versus Old

Aired January 26, 2002 - 13:00   ET


JAMES HATTORI, HOST: Today, on NEXT@CNN, meet some of the newest allies in the war on terrorism. Their bite can be much worse than their bark.


TECH SERGEANT JERRY WILSON: They also have to show us that if we take off the equipment, they'll also bite actual flesh.


HATTORI: A dog's life in boot camp.

Targeting skyjackers. We'll show you high-tech tactics to combat terror aboard jetliners. Virtual training as real as it can get.

Plus with the Winter Olympics coming up, maybe you're up for some cold weather sports. We'll compare the high-tech sleds with the old- fashioned kind and in the process, separate the boys from the men.

All that and more on NEXT.

Hi everybody, and welcome to the debut of NEXT@CNN. I'm James Hattori, and as you can probably tell from our program's name, we aim to be all about the cutting edge, the next big things in the world of science, technology, environment and space.

We're saying goodbye to "CNNdotCOM" and "SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY WEEK," while still giving you the best of both, an hour's worth of stories, spanning earth, space and cyberspace. This week from our mother ship, the science and technology unit at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

We begin with a topic that's become an inescapable part of our post-September 11 lives, heightened security. It's a mission in which man's best friend has become an even better friend, as airports beef up patrols and the military hunts for mines, bombs, and terrorist.

Ann Kellan reports from a Texas Air Force base where some of the newest recruits wear real dog tags.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one thing to train a dog to attack, another to order attack then change your mind. It's like grabbing a flying bullet once the gun's been shot.

These dogs work for the Department of Defense, DOD dogs. They have a rank, name and serial number tattoo.

These are police dogs, military police dogs, but they're police dogs.

KELLAN: Would-be handlers come from all branches of the military, to train at Lackland Air Force Base. When they arrive, they meet their new partners. Some are green, like they are.

Who's more difficult to train, the students?

STAFF SRGT. ANN SVITANEK: The students, yes ma'am. It's easier to get to a dog sometimes. Unlike the FAA dogs that are trained to just sniff for bombs and explosives, DOD dogs do a number of tasks. Some learn to sniff out explosives, while others get a nose for drugs. All learn to patrol and attack on command, and hunt for people hiding in buildings. The key is teamwork.

SVITANEK: You have to have a lot of patience to work with the dog and learn to understand the dog and have a rapport with the dog, and you and that dog need to be best friends and understand each other. They say it travels up and down the leash. If you're having a bad day, the dog's going to have a bad day. If the dog's having a bad day, you're going to have a bad day.

SR. MASTER SRGT. JIM KOHLRENKEN: And they'll sniff the person on the other side of the door and they'll either bark or scratch, give some type of indication to the handler that that's where the person is hiding.

KELLAN: The dogs also learn to sniff the air for suspects hiding outside.

KOHLRENKEN: A good dog is a dog that has the ability to smell, to decoy from a long distance.

KELLAN: Most of these four-legged recruits come from Europe, where dogs are bred more for work than for show. Considering that each dog costs $2,000 to $4,000, they get a thorough physical before they're purchased.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This dog would fail here, because he has a physical, a muscular skeletal problem that we don't want to invest in.

KELLAN: They undergo personality tests. They can't be gun-shy. They need to be sociable and agree to work for a meager wage.

SVITANEK: They don't ask for any reward, other than some praise with a ball or a nice pat on the head.

KELLAN: And they have to be able to bite to kill. WILSON: They also have to show us, if we take off the equipment, they'll also bit actual flesh. If they won't, they can do everything out here perfect, and they still won't go to the field.

KELLAN: How do you test that?

WILSON: We have various methods. We may start out with a suit. We have hidden equipment that we use, or just generally threatening without equipment to see if the dog is actually attempting to, and if they don't do that, because a lot of dogs won't.

KELLAN: Dogs are trusted to think, even attack on their own.

WILSON: If the handler or the dog itself is in jeopardy and needs to protect himself or the handler, we train the dog that hey, instinct, you protect.

KELLAN: Dog handlers carry their jobs on their belts.

E-5 KARETTA ROBINSON: We have a canteen for the dog, have his muzzle in case you need to take him to the vet. This is a choke chain you put around his neck, along with his collar.

KELLAN: There's a brush and chain. What's the first one, the canteen?

ROBINSON: The canteen, the water for the dog.

KELLAN: Where's your canteen?

ROBINSON: I don't have one.

KELLAN: The course lasts about three months. After graduation, some will head to bases in the U.S., while others may go to war.

SVITANEK: I've been to the desert. I've seen it. I've compared my dog to machines. Nine times out of ten, that dog's going to beat any machine that walks the base.

MAJOR DAWN HARRI: Human-animal bond is very strong between a handler and a dog. These animals go into all kind of situation with their handlers. It can be dangerous.

WILSON: We can always depend on them, always. You can always depend on a dog.

KELLAN: That's one reason why many handlers end up keeping their partners, even after they retire.


HATTORI: With dogs prowling on the ground, high tech could be playing a bigger role when it comes to security in the air. The new U.S. Transportation Security Agency is boosting the presence of plainclothes sky marshals aboard U.S. airlines. The looming challenge is getting them quickly trained and ready to combat an airborne terrorist attack. One possible answer is virtually ready.


HATTORI (voice over): A jetliner levels off at 10,000 feet. Passengers settle in for the ride. With some 35,000 take-offs daily in the U.S., air travel is still pretty routine but not this flight.

This is a high-tech simulation of an airborne hijacking, and I am playing the role of an armed sky marshal, whose job is to protect the crew and passengers, and thwart the bad guys.

GREG HOOVER: This is as real as it gets without a doubt.

HATTORI: Greg Hoover is a former Los Angeles Police veteran, now Director of Training for Advanced Interactive Systems, a Seattle-based company which makes video simulators used by police departments and Federal agencies, including the border patrol.

The system uses real handguns modified to shoot a laser and bullets filled with compressed air to simulate recoil. Videotaped crime scenarios are projected onto two screens with various endings depending on how the trainee reacts. Laser sensors track the virtual bullets. There's even a shoot back cannon that fires nylon balls at the trainee.

It puts officers into virtual life-threatening situations they could one day face on the streets or in the sky.

HOOVER: They may end up going to a county morgue. You never know, and they understand that fully, and that's why this is so beneficial to them.

HATTORI (on camera): And potentially beneficial to the U.S. Government, as it expands the Air Marshal Program. Federal officials aren't disclosing details for security reasons, but they could hire as many as several thousand new officers.

Current training takes place in idle jetliners or mockups, but with that many recruits, virtual training is likely to play a major role.

TIM MAY, PRESIDENT, ADVANCED INTERACTIVE SYSTEMS: It allows you to vary the training, change scenarios, do a lot of things to keep these guys and women that will be acting as sky marshals, keep their training refreshed and up to date.

HATTORI: The sky marshal videos are just demonstrations for now, but the company has 200 other crime training scenarios already in use, allowing trainees to measure their response time, weapons skills, and judgment under incredible time pressure.

MAY: You got him in the bottom of the chin. This whole thing lasted 1.3 seconds. How quick is that?

HATTORI: So, how did I do as a sky marshal? Well, the first time, I did nothing and paid a price.

MAY: Did you see anything behind you?

HATTORI: No, I didn't look. I looked back once.

MAY: There was a guy that put a knife in your shoulder blade behind you.

HATTORI: The second time, I did get a shot off, killing the hijacker after she'd stabbed several passengers.

MAY: And while you were watching her, a guy came up behind you and put a knife right between your shoulder blades.

HATTORI: The third time, at an airline counter, I winged a ticket agent in the leg, but managed to get the bad guy as he ran off. All in all, a realistic taste of the kind of life and death moment even police veterans hope never to face.


HATTORI: Those kinds of moments will, of course, be very rare. So one of the biggest challenges facing sky marshals is boredom. Imagine, flying around the country all day, eating all that airline food, and not even getting any frequent flyer miles.

When we come back, a small California company gets fired up about providing cheap, easy access to space. And later in the program, the Hoberman Sphere bounces back into the big time. We'll watch that story unfold. All that and more when NEXT continues.


HATTORI: On the African continent, the town of Goma in the Republic of Congo faces years of rebuilding from the devastation caused by a volcano. It's been more than a week since Mount Nyriagongo sent rivers of red-hot lava through the town.

The eruption destroyed houses and left piles of hardening lava covering neighborhoods, streets and an airport runway. So much molten rock poured into Lake Kebu, that the lake boiled.

Hundreds of thousands of residents fled the city. Many returned to find their homes buried. An international relief effort is underway to provide food, water, and shelter.

The earth's changing landscape is what NASA hopes to capture by creating what it's calling the world's best topographic map. Here's a peak at it. The space agency released a remarkably detailed flyover of California, made up of images taken from the Space Shuttle.

The aerial tour makes its way down the coast, past San Francisco, and then across much of the state. The images were taken two years ago for the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. The mission gathered data on 80 percent of the earth, so scientists say these images are just a preview of what's to come. You can see more of the flyover on our Web site,

Up until now, if you wanted a firsthand view from space, you had to be a highly trained astronaut or cosmonaut. Okay, occasionally, the Russians would welcome tourists willing to spend millions of dollars. But as Miles O'Brien reports, a project is underway in California that could someday give ordinary people a bargain price ride into orbit.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Space has never been an easy place until now. This is the Easy Rocket, an airplane powered by a potent mix of liquid oxygen, alcohol, and high hopes. It won't go to space, but it's creators believe it's the first step toward an out-of-this-world breakthrough, cheap, easy access to orbit. Is easy access to space an idea whose time is coming?

JEFF GREASON, CEO, XCOR AEROSPACE: I think so. Now whether it's here or not, the only way to find out is to try.

O'BRIEN: It's a humble craft for such an audacious goal. Most of the dozen or so employees of XCOR are refugees from companies that have gone bust, trying to do the same. But they are undaunted.

BUZZ LANGE, XCOR AEROSPACE: It's going to take us a while to do that, but to do this, it took less than a year from concept to here it is working, and less than half a million dollars. Not bad.

O'BRIEN: That is just the exact opposite of a NASA approach to things. Is this a better way to do it?

LANGE: It's our way. It is the only way we can do it.

O'BRIEN: They toil in cluttered, ad-hoc quarters at the favored Mojave Airport in California's high desert. In 1986, the first airplane to fly nonstop around the world without refueling, Voyager, lifted off from this place. The man who was at the controls, Dick Rutan, is XCOR's test pilot, who has now logged a half dozen flights.

DICK RUTAN, XCOR AEROSPACE TEST PILOT: It's pretty much of a standard airplane until you turn on the two switches that lights these two rocket chambers. Then, you're along for the ride and it's really good.

O'BRIEN: The Easy Rocket takes off and climbs in a hurry under rocket power for two and a half minutes, and then when the fuel runs dry, glides in for an unpowered dead stick landing. The escort team would like to fly their Easy Rocket frequently, perhaps five times in one day to prove they have indeed found an easier way, and hopefully attract the $10 million they need to build their next generation vehicle, which they hope will fly supersonic briefly to the edge of space.

RUTAN: Maybe civilians can have access, you know, civilians non- government, non-multi million dollar space programs, that people can fly in space, civilians, and maybe do it with what they have in their garage more or less.


HATTORI: While the Easy Rocket is well, almost out of this world, we found more down-to-earth technology at another, some would say, spacey desert locale, the annual Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Renay San Miguel has this week's "Techno File."


RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Gadgets, gizmos and glitter. Every year, Las Vegas hosts the Consumer Electronics Show which shows off cutting edge technology that may hit store shelves in the coming year. But this year, developers aren't introducing a lot of revolutionary inventions, perhaps because many of the innovations that made headlines the past few years have yet to really catch on.

For example, satellite radio only has 30,000 subscribers, and HBTV is just starting to penetrate the market. Instead, this year's products will be smaller, faster, and have more features packed into one device.

REID SULLIVAN: It's a digital camcorder, a digital camcorder, an audio player and a voice file recorder.

SAN MIGUEL: The e-ware line from Panasonic is designed for easy portability. The hip top by Danger, Incorporated packs a phone, PDA, web browser, e-mailer, and pager. You can even attach a digital camera. But is the consumer really screaming for all-in-one gadgets like these?

CARL HOWE: Converged devices have really had a hard time getting traction in this economy. What I think we're going to see is a lot more devices that do something really well.

SAN MIGUEL: If all-in-one is not what the consumer wants, then why is the industry so hot for Moxy (ph), a set-top box that is a DVD player, personal video recorder like TiVo or Replay TV, a satellite receiver, jukebox, and also connects your PCs with wireless high-speed Internet access? Maybe because sometimes technology can make life easier.

STEVE PERLMAN, CEO: We reduced a stack of boxes, a sea of remote controls and a nest of cables down to one box.

SAN MIGUEL (on camera): Here's one good example of integration, the Body FX from Panasonic at $150 should be available this summer. It's a vibrating massage pad, as you see here, that also rhythmically inflates. But it can also be plugged into your favorite source of entertainment, whether that's your home stereo system, your favorite gaming console, or a DVD player. So as you're relaxing, you can actually feel your favorite music. It will also feel like the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" are walking on your back. SAN MIGUEL (voice over): If you really want to get into technology, try opening the pod bay door on this futuristic infrared sauna.

MICHAEL GANATTA: The traditional saunas operate between 180 and 220 degrees. An infrared sauna operates between 120 and 140 degrees, so half the temperature and three times the perspiration. You're heating your body directly instead of the air around you.

SAN MIGUEL: Of course, the fate of all these products depends on you, the consumer, and the companies who brave the tough economy to show their latest gadgets in Las Vegas are hoping the recession won't drain all the energy out of the consumer electronics industry.

I'm Renay San Miguel, and that's "Techno File."


HATTORI: Recession or no, the Consumer Electronics Association predicts that in 2002, Americans will spend nearly $100 billion on electronic gizmos and gadgets, up three percent from last year.

Coming up on NEXT@CNN, a huge toy that will help set the stage for the upcoming Winter Olympics.


ANNOUNCER: Now, back to NEXT@CNN with James Hattori.

HATTORI: Welcome back. From our offices here at CNN Center in Atlanta, we have a terrific view of Centennial Olympic Park, built here for the Summer Games staged in 1996.

Right now, the Olympic Torch is making its way to Salt Lake City, which offers a whole different range of venues and sights, including a high-tech stage that will look a lot like a familiar toy. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It expands. It contracts. It bounces. The very first one debuted more than a decade ago, here at New Jersey's Liberty Science Center.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: It's like big and scary and then it goes little.

MOOS: Kids tend to call it -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's called a Hoberman Sphere, and there's Hoberman.

MOOS: It must be nice to have kids call you a genius.

CHUCH HOBERMAN: What I call these things are unfolding structures. It's something where it just magically transforms. MOOS: And now, Chuck Hoberman has transformed the Hoberman Sphere into the Hoberman Arch, an Arch that will grace the Olympic stage when they hand out the medals. Cables and motors pull the interlocking panels in synchronous motion.

HOBERMAN: We thought the wow moment hushed silence.

MOOS: Hoberman has been wowing kids for years. His spheres range from mini to mega, mega enough to get inside of. In a Hoberman Sphere, two's company, three's Hobercrowded.

Over the years, the spheres have appeared on a cruise ship and at a world's fair. They almost seem alive.

HOBERMAN: That's why people have that sense of, "oh it's breathing."

MOOS: They've even been used by marching bands.

HOBERMAN: Well, they're marching in, they toss them in the air like batons.

MOOS: Bill Clinton once walked out of church with a Hoberman Sphere that a clergyman had used in his sermon. Julia Roberts and Richard Gere tugged on one in "Runaway Bride."

There's plenty to do at Hoberman's Manhattan studio. Projects range from a retractable stadium dome that's never been built, to a double-spiral.

HOBERMAN: It's a sculpture that I built for the National Inventor's Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.

MOOS: Hoberman Cube.

HOBERMAN: A Hober Cube.

MOOS: There are toys under development.

HOBERMAN: Creatures that live in the back room.

MOOS: The red-headed Hoberman appears on boxes as the company's icon, along with a warning, "Beware of pinching. Hoberman pinchers." Hoberman has a dream for what to do with the Hoberman Arch after the Olympics.

HOBERMAN: What is that was the wall of the building and all of a sudden you're in a building and the whole wall just melts away to nothing to reveal the outdoors?

MOOS: From the Hoberman Arch to the Hoberman Sphere, let the games begin.


HATTORI: Coming up on NEXT@CNN, hundreds of people abandon their homes and others would like to join them, all because of this chemical plant and the stuff it leaked into a community's waterways.

And later, dashing through the snow on the latest in newfangled sleds. What's the fastest way to reach the bottom of the hill? Stay tuned.



HATTORI: You may remember a landmark EPA decision last year ordering General Electric to spend nearly $500 million dredging PCB contamination from the Hudson river. Two GE plants had dumped more than a million pounds of the toxin into the Hudson. Well, in Alabama, a case of even larger PCB contamination has left neighborhoods abandoned, waterways polluted, and a huge lawsuit against another corporate giant. Natalie Pawelski has the story of a town's toxic legacy.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A street sign where there are no streets anymore. A playground with no children. And fields where houses used to stand, now fenced off and labeled "danger."

KAREN MCFARLANE, PLAINTIFF: It's sad. You know, everybody we know who grew up around, a lot of them are gone. You know, not only gone, but I'm talking dead.

PAWELSKI: The McFarlane family's home sits next to a factory, blamed for contaminating West Anniston, Alabama, with toxic chemicals. The neighbors are all gone, their homes torn down. Karen McFarlane says if she could afford it, she'd move her family out, too.

MCFARLANE: They'd give me enough to put down on a house, but not to buy one.

PAWELSKI: Hundreds of other people have left, helped along by payments from Monsanto. For more than 40 years, the company made industrial chemicals called PCBs here. During that time, up to 50,000 pounds of PCBs leaked into ditches and streams each year, and PCBs made their way into the air and the dirt, as well.

By 1996, backyard soil tested at 940 times what the federal government calls a level of concern. Water in some streams tested at 2,000 times the safety level. But until just a few years ago, people in West Anniston relied on vegetable gardens and backyard chickens and hogs for food. They fished in streams, unaware that PCBs make their way up the food chain, and sometimes even eat the dirt itself.

DAVID BAKER, COMMUNITY AGAINST POLLUTION: It was sweet tasting, and you would crave for it. Most women that was pregnant craved for this dirt, and come to find out it was contaminated over the years and we didn't know it.

PAWELSKI (on camera): Monsanto's critics charged that for decades the company knew its plant was polluting land and water, but didn't tell the neighbors. Here at Choccolocco Creek, for example, one company study back in 1969 turned up one fish that had PCB levels 7,000 times the legal limit.

DONALD STEWART, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: Their internal documents indicate that they knew this stuff was harmful. Their warning labels indicate that they knew this product was harmful, that PCBs were harmful.

PAWELSKI (voice-over): Donald Stewart represents more than 3,000 Anniston residents suing Monsanto and its successor company, Solutia. He points to company documents, like the 1966 report of a biologist who called for Monsanto to clean up one creek. The document said quote: "Since this is a surface stream that passes through residential areas, it may represent a potential source of danger to children."

STEWART: They didn't clean up the creek, and they did not let the neighbors know.

PAWELSKI: Another company memo, dated 1967, said, quote: "There is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges."

STEWART: It's the worst thing I believe I've ever seen in 36 years of practicing law out of a defendant, a corporate defendant. Never have seen anything worse.

PAWELSKI: West Anniston residents have been left with elevated levels of PCBs in their blood, and PCBs are considered a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the EPA. The neighbors also wonder about other health problems they say plague the community.

BAKER: High rates of cancer, kidney failure, liver damage and all kind of other ailments that is associated with that type of chemical.

MARK MORGAN, PLAINTIFF: There are so many learning disabilities and so many odd things going on, it's, you know, it's just hard to turn away from.

DARYL KNOX, FORMER ANNISTON RESIDENT: Is it what caused my medical problems that I have? You know, I don't know, so -- I really don't. But I would just like to know the truth about it.

PAWELSKI: In decades past, PCBs were considered wonder chemicals, widely used to keep electrical equipment from catching fire -- and in other products, from paint to food wrappers.

ROBERT KALEY, SOLUTIA, INC.: I think we need to realize that we're talking about behaviors and activities that went on in the mid- 1960s, and we're sitting here in 2002 and have a much different view of how things were held. But Monsanto behaved very responsibly.

PAWELSKI: Monsanto stopped manufacturing PCBs in 1977, two years before a federal ban kicked in. Five years ago, Monsanto spun off its chemical operations, and the spin-off, a company called Solutia, has inherited liability.

KALEY: The scientific and medical literature is fairly complete on PCBs, and that literature gives a clear picture that PCBs are not associated with serious long-term health effects in humans, but we are committed to doing the right thing around the environmental issues in Anniston.

PAWELSKI: One example of doing the right thing, the company says, a big new church, replacing one contaminated with PCBs. Critics point to another church, now fenced off, and the surrounding lots, once home to a neighborhood.

BAKER: The church symbolically still stands, but it's not owned by a community; it's owned by Monsanto.

People can't plant gardens, children can't play in the grass, people had homes that was passed down from great-grandmama to great- granddaddy and down on down. And now, it no longer stands.


HATTORI: This is the second big lawsuit filed against Monsanto over PCB pollution from the Anniston plant. The first group of plaintiffs settled last April, for a reported $43 million. Yet another mass lawsuit is in the works. Famed lawyer Johnnie Cochran visited Anniston this past summer to talk to prospective plaintiffs.

Just ahead, if your New Year's resolve to lose weight is wavering, learn how the Web can help keep those resolutions intact. That and more, on next.


ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to NEXT@CNN.

HATTORI: OK, it's the end of January -- is that the sound of a New Year's resolution breaking? Well, it's not easy, setting goals and then sticking to them. So, being the forward-thinking program we are, we thought we'd put technology to the test and see if a Web site can help motivate people to get in shape.

Ann Kellan has this week's "Nothing But Net."


KELLAN (voice-over): So, you want to get in shape, but you just can't seem to stay motivated? Let's face it, we all could use a little help staying focused, and the Web just might have the answer.

To test this out, we've asked three brave souls to take our Web fitness challenge.

MINT JACKSON: I want to lose all the weight that I have gained since -- before I was fine, you know.

KELLAN: Arimenta Jackson, or Mint, as she likes to be called, is a voice trainer in Atlanta. Mint feels she's overweight.

JACKSON: I really want to lose about 50 pounds.

KELLAN: We bought Mint a subscription to She would be able to track calorie intake, chat online with other weight watchers, and personalize her meal plans. The cost, $60 for three months.

Next, meet Kevyn Giggers.

KEVYN GIGGERS: Well, I'm 30-something, entrepreneur, I went to Moorehouse College.

KELLAN: Kevyn played football in college, and the regular workout kept him in good shape. But now, Kevyn has trouble finding motivation to consistently get to the gym.

GIGGERS: Well, it's pretty much been a whole New Year's resolution thing in the beginning, and then now from there, you know, it kind of comes in spurts.

KELLAN: We subscribed Kevyn to, which costs $10 a month. MyGoals claims to help with anything from refinancing your house to quitting smoking.

ANTHONY HELMSTETTER, MYGOALS.COM: Everybody knows what they want to accomplish in life, what they want to do, where they want to travel, something they want. What most people don't have is a plan. That's a big problem for people. And secondly, they don't stick with the goal over time. helps solve both of those problems.

KELLAN: Kevyn's goal: Lose 20 pounds.

Finally, meet Stacy Dullum. She's 22 and is about to start her first job out of college. She works out six days a week.

STACY DULLUM: Out of those six days, I do cardio all six days, I'll do weights five out of the six days. I have a special routine of what I do each day, a different muscle area every day. Of course, one day I take a day off, ideally. Doesn't happen every week.

KELLAN: Stacy doesn't want to lose weight, she wants to get in even better shape.

DULLUM: To run 30 minutes straight, without dying on the treadmill. So I usually only do about 15 minutes and I'm ready to quit.

KELLAN: We want to know if a Web site could help even a fitness buff stick to a goal. She will be using, a free Web site to help you figure out a work-out schedule. For example, you can put in what you ate for the day and how much you worked out, and it will tell you how many calories you burned.

(on camera): Now, this is not a contest to see who can lose the most weight. What we want to do is to see if these people reached their goal, and if the Web sites are helping. So we're going to check back with you in three months to see if it's working. We'll see you then.


HATTORI: Of course, I never break a resolution, I just don't make any. But if you think the Web can help get you up off the couch, check out the sites Ann mentioned, and more, at our Web site:

When we come back, visit a few slices of Eden on earth, and find out about a plan to protect them. That's next on NEXT.


HATTORI: Believe it or not, there are a few places on earth that are unspoiled, with ecosystems that haven't been drastically changed by humans. As Gary Strieker reports, a new conservation initiative aims to preserve some of those places, and head off conflicts that threaten them.


GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are some of the most important wild areas left on earth. Among them, Ndokili Kuanda (ph) in the Republic of Congo, the greater Yellowstone in the United States, and Mamirowa Amanya (ph) in Brazil. All of them largely intact ecosystems with a full compliment of wildlife, including what are called landscape species like elephants, tigers and bison, wide ranging animals that deeply influence their surroundings both biologically and culturally.

These critical wild areas on the planet are the basis of a new conservation initiative called Living Landscapes now being developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society based in New York.

STEVEN SANDERSON, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY: Our ability to do this has been advanced by a visionary gift by Robert Wilson, a $20 million challenge grant to try to address conservation in 50 of the world's wildest and most valuable places.

STRIEKER: Many of these living landscapes already contain protected areas. But all of them are places of potential conflict between wildlife and humans where migrations often take animals outside existing parks and reserves to logging, mining or agricultural areas.

(on camera): In the Living Landscapes initiative, conservationists will focus their work in areas outside parks and reserves, building alliances with local people, governments and the private sector to find a workable balance between the needs of wildlife and humans.

(voice-over): The objective is to reach long-term sustainable ways for people and wildlife to coexist together and to save these last wild Edens on the planet. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: Don't go away, because still to come, we've got the lowdown on high-tech sledding.


HATTORI: Sometimes a reporter goes beyond the call of duty, and risks life, or at least limb, to get the story. Well, our Bruce Burkhardt is one of those. He recently braved the snowy North Carolina mountains to experience the art, and science, of sledding.


BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all about getting down the hill. Fast. Maybe not as fast as Chevy Chase in the movie "Christmas Vacation."


CHEVY CHASE, ACTOR: This is a new non-caloric silicon-based kitchen lubricant my company has been working on. It creates a surface 500 times more slippery than any cooking (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


BURKHARDT: We don't recommend using synthetic kitchen lubricants the way Chevy did. An exaggeration, yes. But still, technology is being brought to bear in the quest for faster.

And like everything else these days, buying a sled is more complicated than it used to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the best time so far, 11:12.

BURKHARDT: Check out a few of these recent models that we gathered for a test run at a ski area, Beech Mountain in North Carolina. With wide-ranging prices, most are made from the latest materials, high density polyethylene or polycarbonates, and some don't even look like sleds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you steer that?

BURKHARDT: We gathered a few experts under tightly controlled and highly precise conditions. OK, maybe not that tightly controlled. Still, we got some pretty good feedback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my favorite one right here.

BURKHARDT (on camera): Really? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It goes fast, and you can really turn it well.

BURKHARDT (voice-over): David is talking about the Mad River Rocket, Mt. Ranier model, the most expensive in the lot at $250. It's meant for back country powder snow, but it did just fine here.

The Eurosled Snow Shuttle has its own steering wheel with a shock-absorbing ski underneath. Steel runners helped to make this one of the faster sleds we tested. And popular with the "older kids."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the winner is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on top of the snow. You feel like you're on a little motorcycle.

BURKHARDT (on camera): All right, this is the Aero Quick-Play Toboggan. It's made by the same people who make those blow-up beds and all you do is it comes with its own rechargeable pump. You twist this on here like this, and it starts blowing it up.

(voice-over): The inflatable toboggan was not the fastest, but seemed to be real popular with the smaller kids who could all ride together.

This is the Snowboogie Outrigger from Wham-o, the same folks who brought us the frisbee and the hula hoop. Going in circles is good for a hula hoop, but not a sled.

The Riva Odyssey is a two-person sled with hydrofoil runners for speed. It's also made from a high density polyethylene. And for $39.99, it is almost as fast as the more expensive sleds.

(on camera): But what about low tech? This is my old Yankee Clipper sled that I've had since back when the sled was taller than I was, and I'd put it up against any of these new-fangled sleds.

(voice-over): A young boy's Christmas present many years ago is still, it turns out, a sled to be reckoned with.

He had the lead the whole way until the flat part at the bottom, when the Eurosled Snow Shuttle Deluxe slid by the old Yankee Clipper. The sled held its own. Maybe it's the rider who needs to learn the new ways.

This marketing video from the Mad River Rocket company shows how they envision their sled being used. Yeah, sure, I can do that.

Sledding, it used to be so simple.


HATTORI: While Bruce's bruises are almost gone, and so are we. But first, here's a look at what's coming up next week,

One-armed bandits are losing their limbs, as the line between slot machine and video game blurs. Take a peak into the inner workings of Vegas slots.

Plus, a puzzle in the Congo, evidence of a new kind of ape not yet identified by science. Keep an eye out for that and a lot more next week. Thanks for joining us for our debut. We want to know what you think. Our e-mail address is

For all of us here at CNN's science and technology unit, I'm James Hattori. See you next time.




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