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Recognizing Unsung Heroes of Movies; Canadian Town Deals With Wayward Elk; New Evidence Humanity Evolved From One Pre-Human Species

Aired March 23, 2002 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Today on NEXT@CNN, we'll take you behind the scenes to see how Oscar winning technicians create incredible car chases, and cool underwater shots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the actual remote aqua-cam that we got the achievement award for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Recognizing the unsung heroes of the movie business.

A town under siege, the elk won't stay where they belong and they don't like posing for pictures. Find out how one town is dealing with this wayward wildlife.

And new evidence that all of humanity evolved from one pre-human species.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This provides information in a place where there really wasn't information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: All that and more, on NEXT.

JAMES HATTORI, HOST: Hi, everybody, and welcome to NEXT@CNN. This week we're in Portland at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, affectionately known around here as OMSI.

I'm James Hattori, and we are actually inside the projection room at the museum's Omnimax theater. From here the images are projected onto a screen five stories tall, giving visitors a larger-than-life science and nature experience.

But when you think of the big screen, nothing compares to the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards ceremony this weekend, and while the spotlights are focused on the stars and the hit movies, they'd be underexposed were it not for the industry's technical wizards, the folks who invent new devices and techniques for creating Hollywood magic.

Oscars for those categories have already been handed out. Ann Kellan profiles two of this year's winners.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The next hair-raising chase scene you watch, think Mic Rogers and Matt Sweeney. They invented the Mic-rig, a car body hauled around on what looks like a tow truck. They won an Academy Award for it.

MIC ROGERS, ACADEMY AWARD WINNER: Pretty maneuverable and it's pretty fast. It's a real simple idea.

KELLAN: Used in the movie "Fast and the Furious," the Mic-rig put actors in the middle of chase scenes. The actors don't drive. The stunt drivers do. They're behind the wheel of this converted truck.

ROGERS: I mean, there's shots in there where, you know, the girls are driving. Neither of the girls in the movie drove. They didn't know how to drive. They didn't have licenses.

KELLAN: Rogers says it took years to convince Hollywood to develop the rig, even though it only costs about $50,000 to make, chump change in the movie business.

ROGERS: It's fitted with, you know, sprayers both on the front tires and the back tires, as you can see when it pumps out here, our little nozzle just sprays basically water on the ground to help make slides happen, so we don't have to like have big wet-downs and all that type of thing.

KELLAN: And actors experience the high-speed chase firsthand. Before the Mic-rig, most actors sat in front of a fake background and pretended they were screeching around turns. Winning the award means a lot.

ROGERS: It's a thrill. I mean, I really didn't think about it too much until I got there, until I walked up and you get your award and you turn around and see everyone staring at you in tuxedos. That's when it kind of throws you.

KELLAN: Theirs is one of a number of technologies honored by the academy. Don't forget it's motion pictures arts and sciences. Another winner in the crowd this year, Pete Romano, his award-winning invention was used in the movie "Message in a Bottle." Romano, who started his career as a Navy photographer, developed a remote underwater camera that makes shots done in the movie "The Perfect Storm" possible.

PETE ROMANO, ACADEMY AWARD WINNER: So in dangerous situations, you can put the equipment there and not have to worry about it.

KELLAN: "Jurassic Park III" used it. ROMANO: A lot of shots happen that start below and go above or start above and go below. It mounts on to our remote head right here. Inside is the camera and lens controls, film magazine and the controller.

KELLAN: Romano's remote aqua-cam also added drama in the movie "Pearl Harbor." You don't see him in the final cut, but this is how he spent many workdays during the filming.

ROMANO: I'm in full sailor garb and my camera is shrouded in tarps and canvass and then they digitally, I think, took out the camera and probably me, darn it.

KELLAN: Romano previously won an award for creating high quality underwater lighting, featured in the movie "The Abyss." He credits those who came before him, innovators like Jacques Cousteau for setting high standards in underwater photography.

ROMANO: I built equipment for Jacques in the mid-'80s and had the opportunity to see firsthand how they put things together, the crystal look as we sort of would joke about it.

KELLAN: Now, there's the Romano look. Getting recognized for his contribution means a lot.

ROMANO: Well, that was sort of a high water mark in my career as I jokingly say. It is a very proud moment.

KELLAN: It allows innovators who have made movies what they are today to come out from behind the curtain and take a bow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: This peak commissioned U.S. Navy submarine can't take a bow, but it was a movie star. Remember the underwater thriller, "The Hunt for Red October?" Well, this barbell class diesel sub was used in the film. Now it's moored here at OMSI to give people a sense of what it was like to live beneath the sea. You can even do a sub surface sleep-over with the kids.

As you can imagine, this vessel has also been the star of many home movies and not necessarily the grainy, jumpy, grandma-move-over kind of production. As Paul Clinton explains, amateurs can make films approaching the quality of big budget feature films thanks to digital technology.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL CLINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Aspiring filmmaker Gregory Arce recently completed his first feature "Den (ph)." It's already been accepted at several film festivals.

He's one of a growing number of ordinary people making films with inexpensive digital cameras and computer editing software. Many work out of home or garage. GREGORY ARCE, FILMMAKER: You barely don't even need a garage, if you can hook up to any power source, if you can be that New York guerrilla filmmaker that just plugs into the city electricity next to a pole.

CLINTON: Power needs aside, the technological advances are changing the art of film making, and opening the craft to practically anybody.

(on camera): I am a complete techno-idiot. I can't even program my car radio. If you're as bad as me when it comes to that, how on earth can you do this?

ARCE: Because the technology has simplified. I mean, I used to be an editor and way back in the past in the '80s using an old Panasonic, and when I first started working with a computer, I was shocked at how many things I could do that I couldn't do back then here at home.

CLINTON: Speaking of home...

ARCE: Yes, one of the things I find most ironic is right there, is the home of the Academy Awards, the new home of the Academy Awards. This is where it all happens. That's where validation for filmmakers, that's where it is, and where do you live, you live...

CLINTON (voice-over): Right over here, a few away at the Hollywood Biltmore Motel-Hotel. To make it from the Biltmore to the Oscars, Arce and others like him can get help from Dawn Hudson of the Independent Feature Project of IFP. The organization is dedicated to supporting low-cost independent film making. She's seen what's possible.

DAWN HUDSON, INDEPENDENT FEATURE PROJECT: The one thing digital editing does for independent filmmakers is, it gives them the tools that previously were in the hands of only hot big budget studio films.

CLINTON: The IFP helps fledgling filmmakers with networking, emotional support and hands on training in traditional film making techniques, as well as digital and computer editing systems.

HUDSON: The main attribute of digital film making is it allows accessibility, and if the barriers to entry for film making is now no longer cost, and if you have a rich, you know, uncle to pay for your first film.

CLINTON: This revolution has not gone unnoticed in Hollywood. The success of "The Blair Witch Project" put digital film making on the map. Now exploring that terrain are some of the biggest and most successful directors in the business, including George Lucas, Mike Figgis and Steven Soderbergh. Soderbergh's new film "Full Frontal" starring Julia Roberts was shot largely on digital video. Susan Littenberg cut it on a desktop computer.

SUSAN LITTENBERG, EDITOR, "FULL FRONTAL": There is really a lot that can happen in the editing room. With digital editing it makes it easier to try experimental sorts of editing, where you might do non- linear editing which Soderbergh is very much a fan of. It's much easier to go ahead and try and experiment with those things, because you can make multiple versions.

CLINTON: Shooting on digital can be cheaper, but to some there's a drawback.

LITTENBERG: Digital video as of now anyway still has kind of a harshness and a sharpness to it that, for my aesthetic, doesn't create the same effect as watching film.

CLINTON: One thing digital can't guarantee is a tale worth telling.

LITTENBERG: No matter what your background is, it's got to be a good story.

ARCE: Hey, I got a hot property here for you, not property for sale. It's going to get you a lot of money.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Later on NEXT@CNN, if you like to watch, you'll love this house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is for watching when you're in the tub. This one's for when you're shaving over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well yes, you can say that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Bruce Burkhardt goes to television heaven. But next, invasions of elk and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that and much more still ahead, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HATTORI: If your idea of a wild animal invasion is squirrels in the attic, well you should try living in Banff, Alberta. The town has an elk problem. The huge animals can be dangerous, so officials have come up with some novel ways to chase them back into the woods. Mark Stevenson from Canada's CTV Network has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK STEVENSON, CTV NETWORK (voice over): It's the latest way to keep elk away, run them out of town so they never return. With so- called screamers and rubber bullets and border collies that chase elk off the golf course, animals known to be dangerous.

ELSABE KLOPPERS: People were badly injured. In one instance, a young boy was really badly trampled in his yard. STEVENSON (on camera): Hundreds of elk have been removed from Banff in recent years. Even so, parks officials say there are a few hard cases, repeat offenders that keep returning.

(voice over): Elk used to be all over Banff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tap the lawn and they eat up the shrubs.

STEVENSON: And they charge tourists that get too close. Wildlife workers moved hundreds of elk to unpopulated parts of the park in recent years, even across the Continental Divide. But stubborn elk keep returning for a simple reason, in town they're less likely to be eaten.

TOM HURD, BANFF WILDLIFE SPECIALIST: When they venture beyond the town, there's a variety of predators that do prey on the elk population.

STEVENSON: Predators like wolves, cougars, even grizzlies. Until recently, bears were the only animals scared away from populated areas in the same way. In Banff, elk are the priority and environmentalists like the program. Researchers say scaring them away is better than the alternative.

KLOPPERS: If they become aggressive, they'll be relocated or potentially destroyed if they're very aggressive.

STEVENSON: Forcing elk out of Banff means the town is safer for tourists. For elk, it's definitely more dangerous, but shooing them away, experts say, will help restore nature's balance by helping predators who rely on them for food.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: If you've ever complained about sand in your hot dog at the beach, take a look at this enormous sandstorm that roared across northern China this week. It was so bad, a yellow haze covered Beijing, blotting out the sun. The Chinese government says the sandstorm affected 130 million people across an area bigger than 500,000 square miles.

The giant dust cloud could also be seen on U.S. government satellite photos. The yellow arrows point it out. China is hit with sandstorms just about every spring, but scientists say this is a particularly bad one because severe drought and massive deforestation left more sand for the wind to pick up.

For at least 12,000 years, a massive ice shelf has clung to Antarctica. Now, it's gone. The second of the Larsen (ph) ice shelf collapsed into smaller icebergs in February and early March, the victim of record warm temperatures. The red line you see shows how big the shelf was in 1995. The blue line shows the extent of the collapse. Scientists are calling the collapse staggering and a profound event, and they say global climate change is the likely cause. ANNOUNCER: Would you pay $100,000 for a one-hour flight in this? Well, this is just a model, but dozens of people have signed up to fly in the real thing for an out of this world adventure, that story and more ahead on NEXT@CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HATTORI: Easter eggs are those holiday treats you search for in the backyard with a kid, right? Well, welcome to 2002. Believe it or not, Easter eggs are hidden on your DVDs now. Natalie Pawelski goes a-hunting with help from consumer tech expert Marc Saltzman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Marc, I think of Easter eggs as being the kinds of things that I give to my nieces and nephews on Eastern morning. We're not talking about that?

MARC SALTZMAN, CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY EXPERT: Right, no, we're not. Easter eggs on DVD movies are something completely different. They're a little something extra, a hidden secret that's planted on the DVD disc, and movie companies or filmmakers or both challenge the movie fanatic to find it.

PAWELSKI: OK, so I'm a complete novice with Easter eggs and here you've got "an offer I can't refuse" -- "The Godfather."

SALTZMAN: Right, "The Godfather." Sure. Well, in "The Godfather," you simply go to the word "setup" and you hit enter and what you see here is the screen where you can adjust what language you want to watch or subtitles. But instead of going up and down, when you hit the right button, you'll see a globe appear. When you hit "enter," what you are seeing now is, these are clips of "The Godfather" in different languages that are seen throughout the world. It's pretty funny.

PAWELSKI: Why plant these Easter eggs?

SALTZMAN: Well, I think they're doing this just to generate hype. I think that movie companies know that word of mouth and buzz will help sell the DVD.

PAWELSKI: Now, looking over here and seeing "Shrek" and thinking my nieces and nephews are going to love this, what are the Easter eggs in "Shrek?"

SALTZMAN: OK, so when you pop in the DVD, you always start at this main menu. Instead of going left and right to select special features of subtitles, hit the up arrow on your remote and that musical note is illuminated, so when you hit enter, you are treated to a secret session called "The Shrek Music in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party."

PAWELSKI: So are these very common or sort of rare?

SALTZMAN: They're very common, but not a lot of people know about them, so they're on almost every DVD you get today.

PAWELSKI: Really?

SALTZMAN: It doesn't matter, the studio. You just have to know about them. That's the whole thing. It's word of mouth.

PAWELSKI: So let's say I've got my DVD player. It's all ready.

SALTZMAN: Right.

PAWELSKI: I'm renting a DVD. How do I find out if that DVD has an Easter egg?

SALTZMAN: You can go online. You can go to Web sites like dvdreview.com or dvdeastereggs.com and they'll list a number of them.

PAWELSKI: Now you were telling me that the whole concept of Easter eggs started with the sci-fi world. Is this an example of that?

SALTZMAN: Right. "Star Wars" is a perfect example. There are many Easter eggs on the "Star Wars" DVD. This is the "Phantom Menace, Episode I." If you start off at the main menu, you type in 1138.

PAWELSKI: Oh, of course.

SALTZMAN: You will be taken -- yes. Well, the significance of that is one of George Lucas' first movies in the '60s was called THX- 1138. You're treated to a very amusing blooper reel. OK, this is pretty funny. You'll see that evidently R2D2 has a drinking problem because he keeps falling down all the time. This is very cute.

PAWELSKI: He's spiking his motor oil.

SALTZMAN: Yes, evidently. There he goes again. Easter eggs aren't necessarily a new phenomenon. Computer programmers have been hiding eggs in their code for many years now. You know, DVDs are the fastest growing piece of consumer electronics in history.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: No doubt, DVDs and other new technologies are fueling the bigger and better home entertainment experience. Now, unlike anyone else, I've put in my fair share of time in front of the tube and enjoy it, but Bruce Burkhardt met a couple who may be at risk of home entertainment overload.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is better than your local multiplex, this theater in the basement of Richard and Mickie Cohen's suburban Atlanta home. It is not just the 120-inch screen or the eight speakers attached to the surrounding padded fabric walls or the expensive Italian couch, real expensive. Is that true? Is this a $40,000 couch?

RICHARD COHEN: This and the other piece down there.

BURKHARDT: It's not just that that gets one to thinking. It's all those other TVs and electronic stuff that the Cohen's have.

R. COHEN: Here we have a Sony 53.

BURKHARDT: 53".

R. COHEN: Yes. There's one over here. This is our Sony Vaiga (ph).

BURKHARDT: What kind of TV is this?

R. COHEN: You tell me. I don't know. It's 36 or 32, one of the two.

BURKHARDT: One of television's earliest comedians, Ernie Kovacs, said TV is called a medium because it is neither rare nor well done.

R. COHEN: This is our little TV.

BURKHARDT: This is for watching when you're in the tub?

R. COHEN: Yes.

BURKHARDT: This one's for when you're shaving over here.

R. COHEN: Well, yes, you can say that.

BURKHARDT: And here at the Cohen's house, TV is anything but rare. Depending on your viewpoint, it could be described as well done, maybe even overdone.

BURKHARDT (on camera): A TV-VCR combo in the daughter's room. Now we're up to four or five. This is Colby's room?

R. COHEN: Yes. I think he's got the DVD player that was the DVD player I had two years ago.

BURKHARDT (voice over): And downstairs in the basement where we started, the 120-inch screen is not alone.

M. COHEN: Or if you want a drink or food, this is usually where that would be.

BURKHARDT: Martini.

M. COHEN: Of course. So you can actually watch what's going on in the theater.

BURKHARDT: And in the sitting area outside the theater - but wait, there's more. Out by the pool and in the family's Lincoln Navigator.

R. COHEN: It has a VCR capability. BURKHARDT: Twelve televisions altogether. Well actually, it's more than that if you count the computers that can double as TVs, and TVs that double as computers, like the 53-incher in the family room. Three satellite dishes, including Direct TV and the Dish Network supply pictures to all those TVs and Gaming Network allows users of different TVs to play each other using Play Station or the X-Box of course. And all you do is read owner's manuals. I mean how do you do this?

R. COHEN: It takes some perseverance.

BURKHARDT: For those of us confounded by the infinite possibilities presented by just a single TV, a VCR and a cable box, this is enough to make your head explode.

M. COHEN: I don't know how to use anything.

R. COHEN: Yes, she doesn't.

M. COHEN: I don't even know how to turn the TV on.

BURKHARDT: Even the Cohens need to get away from it now and then. The living room, though it's not used very much, there's something missing. There's no TV in the living room.

R. COHEN: No, there is no TV.

M. COHEN: You'll have 10 people in here. They all sit down and they go - there's no radio. There's no nothing.

R. COHEN: Yes, we look at each other.

BURKHARDT: Everybody sits down and says well, let's watch TV. Who has time to sit down and talk? There's just too much to keep track of. So, the master bedroom complex has three TVs, right?

R. COHEN: Yes, three.

BURKHARDT: You could almost call it four.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: OK, so the burning question is, how do they keep up with all the remotes? Speaking of which, don't touch yours. There's still a lot more to come at NEXT@CNN, after a break and the latest headlines from the newsroom.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead, find out which Web sites "TIME" magazine thinks are the cream of the crop, and cast off computers come back from the dead to create an environmental nightmare. Those stories are coming up in just a few minutes. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HATTORI: Welcome back to NEXT@CNN. Some new insight this week into the origins of modern humans, scientists say a million-year-old skull found in Africa adds weight to the theory that all of us are descended from a single pre-human species. Ann Kellan reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY GILBERT: You're excited when you make a discovery like that.

ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In 110-degree December heat in Ethiopia four years ago, American and Ethiopian scientists uncovered a one-million-year-old skull, called Daca (ph). This discovery could significantly change our understanding of the human family tree, and bolster the theory that a pre-human called homo erectus is a direct ancestor.

GILBERT: I think it's extremely important to present a clear picture of what our evolution was like, and in that respect, this provides information in a place where there really wasn't information.

KELLAN: It's taken years to piece together and study the skull found crushed in pieces. The lower face and teeth are missing. Based on what could be tooth marks on the bones researchers think the individual may have been eaten by a lion or a hyena. Its shallow forehead and elongated brain cavity are characteristic of homo erectus.

GILBERT: They have a cranial capacity that is more or less halfway between a chimp's and a human's, and it's anybody's guess what these guys are acting like. I mean it's like a newly opened question.

KELLAN: Scientists were surprised to find a homo erectus skull dating back a million years. They thought it had died off in Africa by then, and humans evolved from another species. Based on comparison, scientists say Daca is similar to other homo erectus skulls found throughout the world.

GILBERT: Now that we have something from Africa at the same time, we can compare it to these guys and see that sure enough they're all very similar.

KELLAN: Gilbert and colleagues now theorize that homo erectus was alive and thriving in Europe, Africa and Asia a million years ago. He suggests an ice age 50,000 years later would have isolated the continent.

Scientists now think homo erectus evolved into Neanderthal man in Europe, went extinct in Asia and in Africa it eventually evolved into homo sapiens, modern man.

Gilbert says this skull gives scientists a more complete sequence of human evolution in Africa, from our earliest ancestors to modern humans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: Like humans, technology evolved. Remember the Commodore 64? Which raises the question, what do you do with a computer that's just too old to be useful to anybody? The responsible thing to do, of course, is recycle it so the toxic chemicals and metals in it are disposed of properly. But as Lian Pek reports, some of the computers that North Americans try to recycle may end up poisoning workers in Asia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIAN PEK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a scene of cyber carnage, the high tech revolution's "apocalypse Now." Chinese workers in the southern (UNINTELLIGIBLE) town of Quigo (ph), picking over the toxic carcasses of thousands of obsolete computers.

According to U.S. environment group, Basel Action Network or BAN, much of the world's electronic race ends up in these polluted backyards of Asia, where the handling costs are cheaper and environmental rules lax.

JIM PUCKETT, BASEL ACTION NETWORK: We saw whole villages, squatter villages of migrant workers from, for example Hunan Province, that would come in to get $1.50 a day to live basically by burning the wires from imported computers.

PEK: From the many labels on the computers and monitors, BAN estimates that some 80 percent of the e-waste collected for recycling in the U.S. finds its final resting place in scrap yards like these.

Miranda Yip from Greenpeace Hong Kong was part of the team that visited Quigo (ph).

MIRANDA YIP, GREENPEACE HONG KONG: The village people, what they told us is that they bought this waste from Taiwanese and Hong Kong businessmen, and they are the brokers. So they buy waste from the U.S. and then they transport this waste in a container to one of the ports in Nanhai (ph) and then this waste will go to Guaiu (ph).

PEK (on camera): It seems Hong Kong brokers aren't just sourcing this electronic scrap from overseas. The Hong Kong government says only seven tons from the U.S. is selected every day here in the SAR. Toxic campaigners say that is a gross underestimation for a city of nearly seven million people, which raises the question, what happens to all these computers, which find their way here to the secondhand market in (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

(voice over): This man says he collects un-recyclable computer scrap and sells it to buyers from the mainland. This shopkeeper says he pays disposal companies to take scrap off them, but he doesn't know where it goes. And this could very well be the end of the disposal chain, a cyber wasteland that is thriving despite the Basel Convention, a United Nations treaty that bans the export of toxic waste in the world's most developed nations to developing ones, and these high tech scenes of horror are calling for the loopholes to be plugged.

PUCKETT: Free trade in toxic waste like we're seeing with this electronic waste flowing from rich countries to a poorer economy is a disaster. It really leaves people with a terrible choice, a choice between poverty and poison and it's a choice nobody should have to make.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: For more information, check out the Basal Action Network Web site. You can get there from our homepage, cnn.com/next.

ANNOUNCER: Next on NEXT, these are not an italicized version of the Back Street Boys, they're robots and you could soon have one for a price. Also ahead, Afghanistan officials find a possible replacement for their beloved lion Marjan (ph). Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HATTORI: If your Ibo is getting old, Sony's got a new robot for you. It's called the SDR-4X, and not only does it do the song and dance routine, it can hold simple conversations, recognize faces, and it can pick itself up if it's knocked over. It also has sensors on the bottom of its feet so it can walk on uneven surfaces like carpet.

Now these are just prototypes. You won't be able to buy the robot until later this year, and even then you'll probably think twice. The new Ibo is the Lexus of robots and will cost about as much as a luxury car.

If you're looking for the best sites on the worldwide Web, "TIME" magazine has come up with its top picks of the year. You can find the entire list at the newsstand next week. But if you can't wait, Josh Quittner, "TIME's" senior technology editor gives us a sneak peak in this week's "Nothin' but Net."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH QUITTNER, SENIOR TECHNOLOGY EDITOR, "TIME": So a team of writers, editors, and reporters from TIME spend the last few weeks, no months canvassing the web for the best possible Web sites that we can find, and we put them all together and this is our list, a list of 50. Not all these sites are new. Some of them you probably heard of, but all of them are great and all of them are real survivors.

The first place to start, I think, in our rundown of the best of the best is a search site. The one that we like the best is the site, a new-ish site called Wise Nut, wisenut.com, and we really think it's going to give Google a run for the money. The cool thing about Wise Nut is not only does it bring you back the most referenced links for certain topics, it also categorizes them.

The next site that we like quite a bit is a site called Gorp. If sand boarding down a Peruvian desert is your idea of a good time, then Gorp is a site for you. It specializes in the great outdoors. It gives you really cool ideas for where to go and what to take with you on your treks.

Of course, you'll probably need some money to do any good cruising in the outback, and for that we suggest you go to a site called bankrate.com. Bankrate.com has everything to do with money and how to manage it. So if you want to comparison shop for anything from certificates of deposits to ATM fees to the best banks, this is the site to go to.

Of course, after you save all that money, one place to go to get ideas on how to spend it might be epinions.com. We like to think of epinions.com, which has been around for a few years, as a more democratic consumer reports. What it is is a site where people come and give real life examples of stuff that they bought and how they like or how they hate it.

Another place that you might go to spend your money is surprise.com. What surprise.com is, is one of these gift finder sites, but with a difference. This site has more than 300 categories of people that you can actually buy junk for.

A Web site for people who like this television program would probably be howstuffworks.com. I love this site. It's done by a guy named Marshall Brain. That's really his name, Marshall Brain, and he is a brain and he has a wonderful way of describing how everything works, how stuff works, everything from a computer to DNA.

Finally, my favorite way to waste time is at an old-ish site called Icebox. Icebox was around during the roaring '90s, and like everything else that was really cool went bust. It's a cartoon site. The site has re-launched as a pay per view site, so now you can see the first episode of any cartoon for free, but after that it's $.25 to $.40 a pop.

This is clearly going to be the way of Web sites as we go forward. There's no longer such a thing as a free lunch, and finally some of these Web sites, I think, are going to start making money so hopefully we'll see a lot better sites for the next year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, a trip to the final frontier, could frequent flyer miles get you there?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HATTORI: If you've been saving your frequent flyer miles for a free trip, well time to start thinking really big. U.S. Airways is offering a flight into space for 10 million miles -- that is as soon as rocket powered tourist class becomes available. Jill Dougherty reports one company is planning to make that happen in just a couple of years.

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JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Right now, it's just a full-size model, but in two and a half years, its makers say, it will be ready to fly for real. The C-21 Sub-orbital space craft, a made-for-tourist space vehicle.

It's a project of Space Adventures, the U.S. based company that helped the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, fly on the international space station. Tito paid a reported $20 million for his 10-day trip. A flight on the C-21 will last about an hour and cost $100,000. The company says 100 people already have put a down payment on the flight, which is scheduled to begin in 2004, 2005.

ERIC ANDERSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SPACE ADVENTURES: From all walks of life, from all countries, people from Japan, people from Denmark, people from the United States, men, women, young, old, people of all walks of life, space is something which is a very common theme. It's something which is a passion for a lot of people.

DOUGHERTY: Space tourists on the C-21 will train for only four days, not the six months required for orbital flights. The spacecraft developed by Russian engineers, paid for by private investors, will be launched on top of a Russian M-55 high altitude aircraft.

As this animation CD shows, 20 minutes into the flight the C-21 will fire its own engine and climb to 100 kilometers, 62 miles, the beginning of outer space.

(on camera): If this were a real flight, I'd be wearing a spacesuit like this, and there's a pilot at the controls in the front seat. The actual time that you're weightless is about three to five minutes.

(voice over): So is three minutes in space worth it? Shuichi Okuro, health care worker from Nagoya, (ph) Japan thinks so. He plans to be on one of the first flights.

SHUICHI OKURO, HEALTH CARE WORKER: Last year, I fly a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) jet fighters. It's very exciting, so next I'd like a challenge, a space shuttle.

DOUGHERTY: Space Adventures claims there are potentially thousands of people like Shuichi, space tourist, with the money and desire to fly. And, through an agreement with U.S. Airways, they'll even be able to use frequent flyer miles to go to space.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HATTORI: Tom and Jerry are now in space -- no, not the cat and mouse. Tom and Jerry are the nicknames of two spacecraft launched by NASA and Germany Space Agency. Their mission is to study the earth's gravitational field. The craft lifted off from Russia last weekend aboard a single rocket. They'll orbit the earth in tandem. Subtle variations in earth's gravity will cause tiny shifts in the distance between the two craft and that will help scientists map the gravitational field.

In the mid 1990s, Canada's Vancouver Island was a battleground. Hundreds of protesters were arrested as they fought to stop logging in an old grove forest. Today, the harvesting has resumed, but as Gary Strieker explains, the protests have not.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On Canada's Vancouver Island, logging operations have started again in Kliaquit (ph) Sound, this time without damaging the forest. Ten years ago, protesters clashed with loggers over clear cutting in the area. While some logging was stopped, large tracts of old growth forests were cut down. But now, a new company, owned by native Canadians is logging sustainably, cutting selected trees and taking them out by helicopter. There are no destructive roads through the forest and the logging scars are barely visible.

Like other wood products from certified sustainable logging operations, this timber will bear the stamp of approval from the Forest Stewardship Council.

STEVEN PRICE, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND, CANADA: If you want to buy wood or paper from very well managed sources, you can look for the FSC logo and know whatever country in the world you're buying that product from, it's come from the best managed forests.

STRIEKER: For logging operations like this, certification by the FSC gives instant credibility in the marketplace.

(on camera): With consumer demand for certified wood products increasing, most major retailers are now stocking their stores with them, and some say they'll eventually stop selling any products that are not certified.

(voice over): Supporters of certification acknowledge it now represents only a small part of the logging industry, but they say it's the only way to satisfy consumer demand, while at the same time protecting forests, as well as local economies and cultures that depend on them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead, can two young lions help revive a battered few?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HATTORI: The zoo in Afghanistan's capitol city may soon have a new pair of lions. A safari park outside Beijing is offering two of its most personable lions to the Kabul Zoo, which has been struggling to recover from years of war. The top Afghan official in China met the big cats on Tuesday and apparently found them very charming, very calm was how he put it, as he stroked the male lion's mane.

The Kabul Zoo has been without a lion since the death in January of Marjan, an elderly blind lion whose hard life and fighting spirit made him a symbol of Afghanistan to many people. If the deal goes through, the young lions from China could be on their way to Afghanistan next month.

Well that's all the time we have for now. Here's a look at what's coming up next week. We'll see how a bogus e-mail inspired a real bill in Congress. Bruce Burkhardt tracks down what may be the greatest hoax in Internet history. And, giant pandas in the wild need room to roam. Find out what it will take for this species to survive, that and more coming up on NEXT. Until then, feel free to let us know what you think. Our e-mail address is next@cnn.com. Thanks so much for tuning in this week and thanks to our friends here at OMSI, a great name for a museum, OMSI. For all of us on the sci-tech beat, I'm James Hattori. We'll see you next time.

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