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Report From The CES; NASA To Send Mars Rover Spirit; IT Workers Hit Vegas
Aired January 10, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, everybody, I'm Daniel Sieberg. Today on NEXT@CNN the first snap shots are in. Now NASA get set to send the Mars rover Spirit on its first trip.
What will be the hot electronic gizmo for 2004? You're likely to see it here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Speaking of Vegas, a new breed of gamblers stepping up to the tables where they play high-stakes poker. It could be someone who once fixed your hard drive. All that, and more on NEXT.
SIEBERG: Welcome to a special edition of NEXT@CNN from annual Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas. We found a plethora of personal tech, cornucopia of contraptions, goo-gahs of gadgets, you name it, we'll tell you about some of them during our program.
And a lot of them are out of this world, but first we're going to take you to Mars. The rover Spirit that landed last weekend is now preparing to actually rove around. It was supposed to start exploring this weekend but NASA has delayed things a few days to give engineers more time to prepare.
Even though its still stationary Spirit is snapping some pictures that has NASA very excited. Miles O'Brien has more.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE & TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Mars, in color. The question for scientists, is it living? There's no denying the first color postcards from Spirit are spectacular in all their sepia, gray and grim glory.
JIM BELL, PENCAM TEAM LEADER: My reaction has been one of shock and awe.
O'BRIEN: Jim Bell leads the team that designed built, and is now successfully running the panoramic camera on the Spirit rover. They have a motto, "Every day you wake up on Mars, is a good day."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be expecting...
O'BRIEN: At 9:15 in the Martian morning, day or Sol 4, for Spirit. And he and all the other players in the orchestra take their cues from the conductor, the activity lead. Getting more of these wonderful, yet huge images across 100 million miles of space via a tiny transmitter requires a good deal of patience. BELL: It's a big challenge. We could take more data than we could ever, ever dream of sending back.
O'BRIEN: So the early images are compressed and thus lower quality. As time goes on and there is less need to check the health of the spacecraft, even more spectacular images will fill the 3D glasses. Perhaps they will show proof of ancient water, but not just yet.
MATT GOLOMBEK, SPIRIT SCIENTISTS: It's possible that water was involved here. It's just there's no smoking gun that we've seen so far.
O'BRIEN: And there is this mysterious clump of material right near Spirits' wheels. It was scraped as the rover retracted its air bags. No one is sure what it might be. Each image, each mystery is spurring the Spirit team on.
JULIE TOWNSEND, SPIRIT ENGINEER: Still a lot of applause every time we get a new image down, every time we accomplish a new objective in our ingress routine. Everybody's just on cloud nine because everything's going so well.
O'BRIEN: For the Pan Cam Team, it is no different. Their hardware is on Mars and working, to be sure. But for them, it seems like something more.
BELL: It's like a baby, in some ways it sort of is, our baby cameras. To see them grow up and go out in the world, and very, very emotional, very exciting feeling.
SIEBERG: Obviously, a lot of time and effort put into this project. There's a lot more information about the Mars mission on the web. And you can find it through our website at cnn.com/next.
If you're web savvy and you're interested in space you probably already know about the astronomy picture of the day website. Some of the coolest images from that site have been put in a book. Femi Oke has more.
FEMI OKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "The Universe In 365 Days", but I've given it another title, "Wow! Oh, Cool. Take a look at this picture."
It's actually written by the co-creator of a website called astronomy picture of the day, Robert Nemiroff.
Thanks for dropping by.
ROBERT NEMIROFF, ASTRONOMER, MICH. TECHNOLOGICAL UNIV.: Thanks for having me.
OKE: Stunning piece of work. Stunning website. How did it get started?
NEMIROFF: Thanks. Well, in 1995, my co-author of the book, Joey Bennel (ph), and I, were in the same office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. And we saw all these amazing pictures coming by.
And they were unexplained and people were just sending e-mails go look at this. People didn't always know what they were. We he decided to post them and give an explanation of them. And not only that we started linking the explanation to even deeper things so people would understand as much as possible about these images.
OKE: To give our audience some idea of how successful the website has been, how many people dip into it in a week?
NEMIROFF: The first days we only had 14 hits. Now we get about 2.5 million page views a week. So it's growing steadily over the years and we're real proud of that.
OKE: Amazing stuff. The book has 365 images and we have a few back here.
OKE: Let's talk through them.
NEMIROFF: This is the Space Shuttle Columbia before it was first launched. It is in my opinion the most spectacular image of a space shuttle ever. You really get to see the shuttle and the mechanisms around it in tremendous detail.
This is the moon IO (ph) in front of the planet Jupiter. This was taken by the Galileo spacecraft that was orbiting Jupiter. Again, you can see the tremendous texture both on IO and on Jupiter.
This is the moon which has been called the magnificent desolation. Here we see Harrison Schmidt with the Apollo 17 astronaut with the lunar rover.
This is called the Eskimo nebula. It's a planetary nebula. It's like something that our sun might become. We don't completely understand all of the features around this. Particularly the features around the outside; they're not well understood.
This is another planetary nebula. We think it's two stars that are orbiting each other. And one of them -- just at the end of its life, the envelope that surrounds it was expelled.
This maybe is one of the more artistic images ever taken, in my opinion, at NASA. The title we give, in the book, under this is, "Is it art?" Here we have a picture of an astronaut taken by another astronaut. You can see his reflection in the visor. It's really interesting to just stare at this image in the amazing detail.
This is a huge star cluster and nebula in one of the nearest galaxies to the Milky Way. Call the Large Mejonic (ph) Cloud. And this huge star cluster is still in the process of forming. This is our sun, taken by the Soho Satellite, which orbits the sun, near the earth. You can see on the upper right a tremendous prominence lifting off the sun. Soho has taken a bunch of these and they're just spectacular to see.
OKE: I think we'll say that was so cool. It was the hot sun at the end. It was amazing.
On the website you're described as "married, mild and lazy guy who otherwise might appear quite normal." I'm so pleased about that.
Thank you very much Robert Nemiroff, author of "The Universe in 365 Days." Thanks for joining us.
NEMIROFF: Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: Just ahead on NEXT@CNN, dancing girls and fast cars. Highlights from this week's Detroit Auto Show.
And later, if you eat Salomon, we'll tell you about some new research you won't want to miss.
SIEBERG: There are thousands of products here on the show floor of the Consumer Electronics Show and it's tough to get to all of them. We're going to get to a few. Joining us to help sort through them is Lance Ulanoff (ph) from "PC" magazine.
And, Lance, you have something from Sony, Philips, Microsoft and beyond. We'll get to that in a minute, but start with this digital camera from Sony, a real high-resolution camera, right?
LANCE ULANOFF, "PC" MAGAZINE: That's right, five mega pixels, which means you can blow up your photo to 8x10 or larger and be completely satisfied with the shot, high resolution in incredibly thin size.
And you know, you can see the quality of the photos here. Pretty spectacular. Plus, it has a 3x optical zoom.
SIEBERG: Versus a digital zoom?
ULANOFF: That's right. Optical means the quality of the photo is going to be excellent as opposed to a cheat (ph), where it is a digital zoom.
ULANOFF: So, that's $550, and that's coming out the end of this month.
SIEBERG: All right, very compact and thin. Speaking of compact, that was primarily a digital camera.
ULANOFF: That's right.
SIEBERG: This video?
ULANOFF: This is many other things. This is a video camcorder FOB memory stick from Philips. It's called the key chain and it takes 30 minutes of M-PEG 4 video, plus it can play music, plus it can take 200 2.1 mega pixel photos. Plug it into your computer, download it.
SIEBERG: Transfer it over?
ULANOFF: Right, $249, coming out later this year.
SIEBERG: And a tiny little screen on the back, too?
ULANOFF: The littlest LCD screen you've ever seen.
SIEBERG: All shapes and sizes here, now. This watch we heard about at last year's consumer electronics show. They're just going to be hitting the market, from Microsoft and a few watchmakers.
ULANOFF: That's right. These watches run about $179 to $200. If you're an MSN member you can get this service for $59 a year, and you buy this watch, and when you're traveling and you get off the plane in Vegas, this watch automatically gets the local news, the local weather, and the local time.
SIEBERG: So it knows where you are?
ULANOFF: It knows where you are.
SIEBERG: Because of the FM signals coming to you?
ULANOFF: That's right. Microsoft licensed about 100 signals in 100 cities. Most places you'll have coverage, some places you won't. Check the MSN site to know where.
SIEBERG: This one is from Abacus, also Fasso (ph)?
ULANOFF: That's right, Fasso (ph) and Tailwinds (ph). They get a little bit larger and they look a little bit different, but they're all pretty cool.
SIEBERG: All right, from these smaller gadgets to the large one; this has been sitting here waiting for us to talk about it.
SIEBERG: Looks like a microwave.
ULANOFF: That's right. This is from Sultan, and it's called the "Beyond Microwave". The reason it's beyond because this is a UPC bar code scanner and this $179 device is preloaded with 4,000 UPC codes. You go like this, it scans first and says oh, I know what kind of popcorn that is and I know how long to cook it because I know how powerful I am. And you'll never have a burnt kernel again.
SIEBERG: No waiting for the timing between the pops?
ULANOFF: That works for food that has to be cooked for awhile, stopped then stirred, then cooked again. It will even tell you, stir it. Really incredible device. Gets new UPC codes from a hub that is connected to the Internet.
SIEBERG: All right, a smart microwave, smart watch, some smart products, smart man. Lance Ulanoff, from "PC" magazine, thanks so much for joining us.
Well, CES is not the only tech convention going on this week. Apple held its Mac World gathering in San Francisco.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE JOBS, CEO, APPLE COMPUTER: We are so thrilled with the success of the iPod.
DANIEL SEIBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced a smaller and cheaper version of the portable music play the iPod.
It is about as big as a business card and it will hold about 1,000 songs on a four gigabyte hard disk. The I-Pod mini will sell for $249 and will hit the market next month.
Currently the cheapest I-Pod sells for $50 more. But it holds 2,500 songs.
SIEBERG: While we're on the topic of conventions the North American International Auto Show is going on in Detroit. Jeff Flock has some of the hoopla and highlights.
JEFF FLOCK, CNN CHICAGO BUREAU CHIEF: Detroit's about cars against, fast cars, flashy cars, fun cars. The sixth generation Corvette, the Chrysler ME-412 super sports car that goes 248 mph, the first all new Mustang in 25 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This represents the type of car that Detroit's going to be building to captivate customers. Hopefully to get customers to buy without the rebate.
FLOCK: Essentially paying people to buy isn't cutting it says "Car & Driver" editor, Chuba Cherda (ph), so automakers are bringing on high style. Cars buyers may actually want. The Pontiac Solstice, hot two-seat convertible, concepts like the Saturn Curve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the new breed of sports car.
FLOCK: The Chevy Nomad, a throwback to a '50s concept, modeled on a Corvette; the Dodge Sling Shot, speaking of concepts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Toyota FTX.
FLOCK: A concept truck and a pretty wild one at that, even down on the show floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it's the vehicle at this show that has Detroit scared the most.
FLOCK: That's because it will some day go head-to-head with Detroit's big trucks like the F-150, North American Truck of the Year winner at the show, and others from Chrysler and GM, which have been so successful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the last place where Detroit could make a lot of easy money was in the full-size pickup segment.
FLOCK: Which is why there's a new focus on the rest of what they build.
And while dancing girls single the praises of Chrysler's Stow & Go minivan seats, featuring CEO Dieter Zetsche
DIETER ZETSCHE, CEO, DIAMLER-CHRYSLER, N.A.: Who says minivans can't be sexy?
FLOCK: The real stars of the show might be the hybrids, the gas- electric Toyota Prius, car of the year, and concepts like this diesel- electric tourer (ph) from Mercedes and a flashy gas-hydrogen Mazda RX- 8.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to know it's a hybrid from behind the wheel. It's going to work perfectly well, it is going to have good performance. It is simply going to get better fuel economy.
FLOCK: Having it all, a winning concept. Now if only Detroit can sell it at full price.
SIEBERG: Later in the program we'll introduce you to a man who's got a concept car of his own fueled entirely by hydrogen. Also ahead masked men and a mass slaughter of animals. As authorities work to prevent other epidemic of SARS.
SIEBERG: Authorities in China are killing thousands of civet cats this week in an effort to stop the spread of SARS. But international health exports warn that the wholesale slaughter of the weasel-like animals will not be a magic bullet against the disease. Jaime Florcruz has the story.
JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Civets are widely available in markets and restaurants in the southern Guangdong Province, where they are considered a delicacy. But now civets are public enemy number one. That's cause Chinese researchers have linked the weasel-like mammal to SARS.
A television producer has become China's first new case of SARS since July. And officials there are reacting quickly.
FENG LIUXIANG, GUANGDONG PROVINCE HEALTH DEPT. (through translator): In this situation, we will take resolute measures to close all the wildlife markets in Guangdong and to kill the civet cats.
FLORCRUZ: Thousands of civets and other related species are now being rounded up, put in cages, drowned, and cremated. Just one of the measures being taken to stop the spread of SARS. But the World Health Organization has expressed caution.
DR. JEFFREY GILBERT, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: During the slaughter process, and despite, you know, hygiene and so forth, there is going to be the potential of blood spread and there are other known diseases that are spread from blood.
FLORCRUZ: Experts say a reckless calling of the civets could destroy evidence of the origins of the disease. And civets, they say, may not be the only suspects.
DR. HENK BEKEDAM, WHO REP., CHINA: So we would also be forced to think if you get rid of the civet cats that your animal reservoir is gone.
FLORCRUZ: They say more research is needed.
JULIE HALL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Find out which animals can carry and transmit the virus. But equally importantly, find out exactly how or what are the risk procedures? Under what circumstances can it jump from animals to human beings?
FLORCRUZ (on camera): If research can find answers to those questions, experts hope China could design regulations that could make the animal industry safer, protect human beings from infection, and perhaps avoid the mass slaughter of animals.
SIEBERG: New research out this week says Salmon raised on fish farms has significantly higher levels of PCBs and other toxins than wild Salmon. The health risks to people who eat the Salmon may be serious enough to detract from the healthy effects of eating fish, that is according to the authors.
The study, published in the "Journal of Science" also says that European raised Salmon have more of the contaminants than those raised in North and South America.
This week another new study put the spotlight on species and how many of them could eventually disappear if predictions of climate change are true. Sharon Collins has our report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just mention the word "extinction", and it brings to mind the dinosaurs. Many scientists believe they were wiped out ages ago by a worldwide drop in temperatures. A new study published in the respected journal, "Nature", says predictions of more abrupt climate changes could have the same impact in our lifetimes, between 18 and 35 percent of species wiped out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Along with habitat loss, climate change now stands as one of the major risks to wildlife in the world.
COLLINS: What's new in this study? A team of researchers looked at six biological hot spots, places where unique animal and plant life might already be on the brink from the rain forests of Costa Rica to the Australian Outback to the Horn of Africa.
The few degrees of temperature rise predicted for the next 50 years, the study, authors believe could spell the eventual demise of a million species.
Now while there's some disagreement on how bad the warming will be, and how much of it can be blamed on human influences, most researchers say we're in for big changes in our coastlines, polar ice, and weather patterns, some beneficial, some potentially ruinous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We already have evidence that there are species that are responding to climate change, climates and animals are actually shifting their geographic location to try and find their preferred climate.
COLLINS: The report also embraced a political partial solution, calling for cleaner burning fuels to reduce the rise in temperature. Without it, they say, Spaceship Earth could lose some very valuable passengers.
SIEBERG: Two young brothers from Connecticut are sharing $100,000 scholarship. That's top prize in the Semens/Westinghouse Research Competition for high school students. Their winning project was a computer simulation of how West Nile virus spreads. Bill Tucker has their story.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): How many teenage boys do you know building analytical models of the spread of West Nile virus? Meet Mark and Jeffrey Schneider, two brothers who set aside sports, girls and teenage angst all to humor their mom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How was your math test?
TUCKER: Sandy Schneider was worried her boys would contract West Nile virus. Hoping to put her mind at ease the brothers launched into a study on how the disease was spread. With Mark presenting the theory, and Jeff modeling the research. JEFFREY SCHNEIDER, HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: We knew we couldn't accomplish the project unless we both worked on it. Because I wasn't sure how to go about with the theory of the West Nile virus and he wasn't exactly sure how to go about programming it into a computer.
MARK SCHNEIDER, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: We actually needed each other.
TUCKER: As a senior in high school, Mark is the Renaissance man, a bundle of the kinetic energy. When he's not busy advancing public health policy, he sketches friends, celebrities, or anyone else that appears in his mind's eye.
MARK SCHNEIDER: That face, in such a simple drawing, really embodies the genius of Rembrandt's work.
TUCKER: Mark is also a novelist, who published a book about semi-pro baseball set in the 1930s.
Jeff, two years younger, is more methodic. He spends a lot of time on his computer and loves the logic of chess. And like his brother, he's also a huge baseball fan.
JEFFREY SCHNEIDER: A lot of people say baseball's really boring. I try to think that there's really a strategy behind it. And that's why they pay the managers and the pitching coaches and the hitting coaches so much money.
TUCKER: In a rare display of teenage emotion the brothers will admit that the best part of the project was the time spent together.
JEFFREY SCHNEIDER: Looking back, it was a pretty good experience. Because I was working with Mark. I wasn't just locked in my room away, with a computer just staring at a screen. But we also had good humor working with it.
TUCKER: Mark and Jeffrey share an upbringing that taught them to not just do well, but to also do good.
MARK SCHNEIDER: I wake up every morning thanking God I'm alive, and thanking God I've had the opportunities that I've had and that I've been as fortunate as I have.
MICHELLE QUINN, SCHOOL COUNSELOR: With students like Mark and Jeff, the opportunities are endless. Because even if a block comes up one way, they know there's another street they can turn down.
SIEBERG: Don't go away, there's a lot more to come on NEXT@CNN, including a look at the home of the future here at the Consumer Electronics Show.
And a new sport that takes adventurous souls to the ends of the earth in search of imaginary lines. We'll explain when NEXT@CNN returns. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SIEBERG: Well, while we're on the show floor here at CES, we found some products that are rather, well, neat in nature, and we're start with one from a company called Excalibur.
This one -- if you're mixing drinks for friends and you can't quite remember what goes in the drink, this will tell you the ingredients. You can search through it by the drink, it'll also tell the proportions of different ingredients to put in there. So, very helpful, it's called the Bar Master Deluxe. The next one also from Excalibur.
Then next one, also from Excalibur, but this one if you try to remember more about a particular bottle of wine while you're having dinner, this one will tell you all about the different wine master reviews, you can search through it by different types of wine and so on. Now, both from Excalibur.
Now, the next one from a company called made Meade. They've combined binoculars with a digital camera. So, let's say you're on the 50 yard line at a football game, and you want to zoom in and get a picture. You can see through here, in the binocular lenses, and take a picture by looking through here. It'll also store it on here so you can look at it later.
And finally, we've got here very, very small technology. Toshiba is calling this the world's smallest hard drive. To give you an example, of what it can hold, about 40 yards of books, it's going to be about two gigabytes, or four gigabytes coming out next year. A number of different products could use this, anything from PDA's to digital cameras and a number of other different products. So, a whole array of different things here at CES. One of the things we didn't mention here, were cell phones. With all those cell phone providers out there, how do you choose the one that's right from you?
Well, Julie Vallese got some advice from the experts at "Consumer Reports."
JULIE VALLESE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 156 million Americans have gone wireless. And with six major companies all vying for business, talk may be cheap, but the price for customer satisfaction is high.
JIM GUEST, PRESIDENT, "CONSUMER REPORTS": The cell phone companies are going to have to improve the service, have to deal with the issues of dead zones, dropped calls, poor reception.
VALLESE: Those are key factors consumers use to rate cellular providers in a study by "Consumer Reports."
GUEST: Verizon had the better rating than the others in terms of customer satisfaction.
VALLESE: Verizon says it has taken extra steps to do that, in many major cities, putting relay transmitters in places where reception is questionable.
(on camera): Here in Washington, Verizon is the only carrier with transmitters located in tunnels throughout the subway system.
(voice-over): As for the other services, AT&T, Cingular, Nextel, Sprint, and T-Mobile, customer satisfaction varied from city to city. The Industry Association says quality of service is their No. 1 goal and will improve because of competition.
STEVE LARGENT, CELLULAR TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: In any given market, you have between six and eight carriers that provide wireless services. So, if you don't like -- you know, wireless carrier A, you can go to B, C, D, E, F or G. And -- you know, that is the best regulator in a competitive marketplace.
VALLESE: And to do that, consumers should ask themselves, how many minutes do they use, where and when are most calls made, and what special features are used most?
SIEBERG: If you're bored by the idea of traveling to a familiar tourist trap and mailing home postcards of well-known landmarks, we have an alternative for you. Some adventurers are playing a new travel game that sends you to a different kind of destination. Kristie Lu Stout reports.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richard Jones and these other geeks are on a mission.
RICHARD JONES CONFLUENCE HUNTER: We're looking for imaginary points.
STOUT: points where longitude and latitude collide. It's called confluencing. The goal, use GPS technology to track down every major intersection on the planet and post the proof on a website called "confluence.org."
TONY BASOGLU, CONFLUENCE HUNTER: It's adventure travel to find a spot, wherever it may be, on top of a mountain or in a valley, or in a fish bond or in the middle of a rice paddy.
STOUT (on camera): Any location in the world can be defined by the invisible lines of longitude and latitude that circle the world. For example, where I'm standing right now, according to this GPS device, is latitude 22 degrees north 13 minutes, and longitude 114 degrees east six minutes.
(voice-over): But this game only uses the whole number degrees, no minutes. Today's target was at 22 degrees north, 114 degrees east. The last unvisited confluence in China's Guangdong Province, in the ocean off the coast of southern China. We charter a boat and speed past Hong Kong into mainland Chinese waters. Familiar territory for Todd Parsons, the so-called "Confluence King of China." There are more than 1,000 intersections in the mainland and Parsons says he has hit more than 70 of them. In the past, bad weather has prevented him from reaching this target. But today, we're only meters away. And then we hit the sweet spot.
TODD PARSONS, CONFLUENCE KING OF CHINA: This is it. It's just very unfortunate that the visibility is so poor that we can see absolutely nothing. We're only four or five kilometers from the Hungo (PH) Island, but we just can't see it.
STOUT (on camera): Yeah.
PARSONS: Very poor visibility.
STOUT: And this is the very first time anyone has gotten this confluence?
PARSONS: The first time someone who's been participating in the degree confluence project has come here to document it.
STOUT (voice-over): Time then to document the fInding and to celebrate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
STOUT: Another confluence in the bag, and just 13,000 more to go.
SIEBERG: Coming up next, meet a man whose inventions may be in your CD player, on your roof, inside your cell phone, and someday perhaps, in your car.
SIEBERG: Welcome back to NEXT@CNN. Now, we found a lot of fresh, new ideas here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Well, in Detroit, there's an inventor whose ideas not only are used in consumer technology, some of his inventions are literally out of this world. CNN's Alphonso van Marsh reports.
ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stan Ovshinsky is taking his wife, Iris, for a spin in their hybrid gasoline and electric car.
STAN OVSHINSKY, INVENTOR: When I slow up, then the -- you charging the battery. That's called regenerative breaking.
VAN MARSH: The car's electric power comes from a hydrogen fuel cell in a process that Ovshinsky invented.
OVSHINSKY: It would build new industries that use science and technology to solve societal problems, and electric-type vehicles, such as hybrids, the use of hydrogen, which is the ultimate fuel, so you don't have to depend on petroleum.
VAN MARSH: Ovshinsky's Detroit area based Energy Conservation Devices owns more than 280 patents.
OVSHINSKY: That's my business. I'm an inventor.
VAN MARSH: The self-taught physicist founded the company with his wife, a degree scientist herself, more than 40 years ago.
Some consider the 80-year-olds' inventions ahead of his time in a field dominated by 20-something's.
OVSHINSKY: I'm a young whippersnapper myself, I feel like I'm 19. I feel like I'm just getting started.
VAN MARSH: Ovshinsky invented technology used in products like rechargeable cell phone batteries and optical discs.
DAVID STRAND, ENERGY CONSERVATION DEVICES: So if you look at any CD or any DVD or now into the future any Blu-ray disc that says, that is rewritable, those all came from Stan's invention.
VAN MARSH: There are even a few dictionary terms named after Ovshinsky's work. One defines the use of low voltage to turn a nonconductor into a semiconductor. That Ovshinsky effect fuels Stan's vision for solar energy.
OVSHINSKY: It's the world's longest solar cell.
VAN MARSH: This machinery assembles his patented solar power cells much like a newspaper press.
OVSHINSKY: Here it's coming off the line.
VAN MARSH: Except this print run is nine miles long.
Ovshinsky says his solar cells are more productive and durable than traditional panels. When exposed to light, the 9-mile strip can generate 30 million watts of electricity. That's enough power for 15,000 homes per year.
OVSHINSKY: By doing it this way, the continuous way, it's the lowest cost method of production.
VAN MARSH: Ovshinsky's solar cells have been used in space and to bring low-cost power on earth.
Ovshinsky points to a photo of the Mexican mother with child, carrying his solar kit on her back to a remote village.
OVSHINSKY: We're doing it because we want to change the world for the better. We want to do that through science and technology, which we love to do, and we want to do it so that it's effective and used and makes a difference.
VAN MARSH: Ovshinsky says his generate-and-store solar technology could have made a difference during the recent power blackouts in the United States and London.
OVSHINSKY: There's no need for it and that we can do something about it, and that's frustrating.
VAN MARSH: Ovshinsky's own solar paneled roof provided power when the blackout hit Detroit and he says he wants to trade his gas- electric hybrid for a 100 percent hydrogen fueled car powered by his inventions, and this is the only prototype.
VAN MARSH (on camera): Do you want to drive, or should I drive?
OVSHINSKY: No, you can drive.
VAN MARSH: Do you think that's a good idea?
OVSHINSKY: Why don't you step on it, for us?
VAN MARSH: Step on it? Like that?
Ovshinsky realizes that these hybrid cars may not be affordable or even appropriate in some parts of the world, so he's licensed technology to come up with a line of scooters and bikes that use nickel metal hydride batteries to get around.
Now this e-bike has a lot of the same gadgets you'd expect to find on any bicycle. The grip brakes are on this side. You've got a handle bar for gears here. There's a little headlight up front, and of course, a little horn for traffic.
So, if you're feeling fit and you want to pedal, it's all here right for you. But, if you're feeling a little bit tired or just a little bit lazy, you just put your thumb to the throttle, relax and go.
(voice-over): Ovshinsky's people say these e-bikes are big sellers in Europe, but mostly for recreation. Hydrogen fuel cell powered scooters have taken off in India and Italy. The lowest budget pedal-electric bike is a hit in Tokyo. On this one, fuel cell power boosts human effort.
At the end of the day, Ovshinsky says the petroleum and auto industries will embrace his alternative fuel technology.
OVSHINSKY: I think of us as being practical, realistic, revolutionaries who by looking for change are not threatening any industry. We are resource.
VAN MARSH: Until and after then, the Ovshinsky's say they'll continue to invent.
OVSHINSKY: As long as I can contribute and do these things that are very important to a global society.
VAN MARSH: A society that benefits from the Ovshinsky effect.
ANNOUCER: Just ahead on NEXT@CNN: You've seen then in action overseas. Could high speed Maglev trains be the answer to traffic woes in the United States?
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "FORTUNE" SENIOR EDITOR: Computer viruses and internet attacks generally, have just gotten much, much worse in the last couple of years.
In 1990, the Internet Center at Carnegie Mellon University counted 252 unique attacks on the internet in the entire year. In the first half of 2003 they counted 74,000 attacks. Internet viruses take many forms, but the most common type at the moment are viruses that flood the internet with unwanted e-mail. Basically these viruses are overloading the system, and sometimes they have actually brought down significant parts of the internet. Just through sheer overload. So the real risk is, the internet could effectively crash just like a PC could crash. I think the chances are that we will win the arms race against viruses. But, I also think that before that happens, we're probably going to get to a couple of really bad events, and it will take that kind of wake-up call before the industry, the customers, government, et cetera, really get serious about attacking this virus problem.
SIEBERG: All right. From a look back at the Frisbee to a look forward to the future. At least what Microsoft calls the" Home of the Future." We got a chance to have a look at it here at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Here at CES we have the opportunity to welcome you into what Microsoft calls the "Home of the Future." Our tour begins at the heart of it all with the Windows media center. It's designed to seamlessly carry your entertainment center throughout your home. Basically you can access anything on your computer anywhere, home video, movies, pictures, and even your whole music library.
Venturing into the kitchen to say, get a snack, you can use the media center to surf the web for your favorite recipes or to watch your favorite cooking show. The home's intelligent oven really lets you get cooking, it refrigerates your food until you're ready to turn it on. And, imagine this, you can use your PDA to power it up while driving home from work. Of course, you have to remember to do it.
With all this technology you'll need to build at least one addition on your Home of the Future, a wiring room to house all of your connections. If you're just into updating your home music collection, you can toss out CDs and tune into the Wurlitzer Digital Jukebox, it stores up to 1,000 CDs and all their album info received wirelessly from the web. You can also download up to 400,000 songs or listen to 100 channels of digital radio.
So with all this valuable technology inside, what about keeping the Home of the Future safe? Biometrics plays the role with Aerovision (PH) Fingerprint Lock. No keywords or passwords needed, you're born with it. Just press a button, scan your fingerprint and a positive match will unlock your door. No family is too big, it stores up to 50 individual fingerprints. It also comes with a key override in case technology fails.
SIEBERT: Obviously very important to secure your Home of the Future with all that cool stuff inside.
All right, how would you like to ride to work on a sleek, nonpolluting train that can go more than 300 miles per hour? Well that could become reality if some local governments get their wish. But, critics say the ride's not worth the cost of the ticket. Casey Wian has the story.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Passengers applaud as a Japanese train sets a world speed record, 581 kilometers or at 361 miles per hour. The train is powered by magnetic levitation, or opposing magnetic fields propel the train forward.
A southern California local government group is pushing for more federal money to develop a 270-mile network of Maglev trains running between the region's airports. Other proposals that would connect Anaheim to Las Vegas, Baltimore to Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh to its suburbs, are also being studied.
Supporters say Maglev trains would reduce freeway and airport congestion and cut air pollution. So far China has the only Maglev line in commercial operation.
RONALD BATES, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS: We need to get involved now or we're going to be buying all of the technology and buying all of the equipment from China instead of having the opportunity to build it and produce it here in this country.
WIAN: But skeptics say Maglev trains aren't worth the cost. Japan, Germany and China have all scaled back Maglev plans because of financial concerns. Southern California's proposal would cost more than $6 billion.
CATHERINE BURKE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: I don't understand truly why very intelligent and honest people think this is a good idea. Maybe it just sounds sexy because the train is slick and -- oh wow, Maglev, it doesn't make any noise.
It makes no sense. It's wonderful if you're a local government and you say, we'll get the federal government to pay for it. That means everybody all over the country gets the joy of paying for a silly system in Los Angeles.
WIAN: Congress has, so far, appropriated $3 million to study Maglev systems, 2.5 billion more Maglev dollars are in a transportation bill Congress has not approved.
(on camera): Supporters say without Maglev average speeds on southern California's already-congested freeways will drop below 20 miles an hour within the next two decades as the region's population continues to grow.
ANNOUNCER: Still to come, techheads turned card sharks. New names in the world of high-stakes poker.
SEIBERG: Well, you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. But it may also help to know something about mathematical analysis and game theory. Some computer geeks are betting that their techie skills will help them rake in the chips at the poker table. Bruce Burkhart came here to Las Vegas to take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Players, please take your seats.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day one, the Five Diamond World Classic at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. 314 players have paid $10,000 a piece to have a crack at a million dollar first prize.
It's a long way from the back rooms of West Texas where Doyle Brunson learned to play. Winning the pot then was only half the battle.
DOYLE BRUNSON, POKER PLAYER: I mean, you were in danger of getting arrested. You were in danger of getting robbed. You were in danger of getting cheated.
BURKHARDT: But now, poker has come out of the back rooms.
ANNOUCER: Nowhere are the stakes higher.
BURKHARDT: Thanks, in large part to TV, poker has found a huge new audience and is attracting a new breed of player: techies, geeks, Internet millionaires.
CHRIS FERGUSON, POKER PLAYER: And now they're using their brains to attack the game of poker from a theoretical standpoint, like they did when they started up their Internet companies. BURKHARDT: Chris Ferguson has been one of the top money winners in tournament poker, a computer scientist who applied those skills at the table.
FERGUSON: I've written a lot of computer programs to analyze poker and to analyze particular situations in poker, so that when I go back to the table, I'm prepared when those similar situations occur when I'm actually playing.
BURKHARDT: Using very sophisticated math and something called "game theory," Ferguson and others techies are trying to win with science. Doyle Brunson, often called the "Arnold Palmer of poker," isn't worried.
BRUNSON: Poker is about people, it's not about math.
BURKHARDT: People, knowing whether they're bluffing, how to read them, what they're thinking.
Thanks to TV, which shows a player's hidden cards, a lot of people now think they know enough to play. But, remember that old saying, if you're in a card game and don't know who the sucker is, you're probably it.
BRUNSON: And these poker players, boy, they will drink your blood.
SIEBERG: And speaking of suckers, last week the news media, including us, were the suckers. You may recall that we showed you video of what was supposed to be the longest snake ever kept in captivity. We and the wire services reported that local officials said the snake was 49 feet long. Well, that just didn't sound right to some people, so a photographer working for "Reuters" went back and measured the snake. It turns out that size does matter, particularly when you're exaggerated by 28 feet. The Python is only 21 feet long. When asked about the discrepancy a zookeeper said he had no idea why the snake has shrunk.
Well, that's all the time we have for now. But here's what's coming up next week.
We'll see how a village in a remote corner of Haiti found the right technology to provide clean water for most of its residents, and how it's affecting life there. That's coming up on NEXT. Until then, of course, we'd love to hear from you. You can send us an e-mail at NEXT@CNN.com.
Thanks so much for joining us this week. And thanks to all the folks to helped us out here, at the Consumer Electronic Show. For all of us, I'm Daniel Sieberg, we'll see you next time.
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