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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for August 19, 2000

Aired August 10, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Hey, you'll want to put on your thinking caps for this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. We're headed to science class this Thursday. I'm Tom Haynes and here's the rundown.

Check out our top story to find out how this guy could end up in your computer.


CHERRY MURRAY, LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES: Using this technology, we should be able to achieve computers with a thousand times more computing power.


HAYNES: We graduate from genetics to physics in our "Daily Desk." Get a crash course in aerodynamics -- on the wiffle ball field?


RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: The enduring appeal of this sport for many is that they can make the ball dance and curve in ways Major League pitchers can only dream of.


HAYNES: "Worldview" poses a technological quandary for the ages: Is it phone or fashion?

All right, class is over, but don't pack your hard drive up just yet. We're headed to CyberCamp, but we'll see you there in "Chronicle."

Well, just when you thought scientific advancement had tapped every possible source of energy, the unexpected happens. The latest target in the march of technology -- yes, you guessed it: fish; salmon to be exact. And even more precisely, salmon DNA. Scientists say they've figured out a way to use the genetic material from salmon to power computers, of all things -- and faster at that.

But let's back up a little. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid is the stuff of life, the molecular basis for heredity or human traits, including eye color and how much hair you have. It's usually concentrated in the nucleus of a cell and has the trademark double helix held together by hydrogen bonds.

DNA is primarily studied in terms of health issues these days. Scientists want to pinpoint the scientific genes that cause certain diseases in hopes of curing them. Now, one lab is eclipsing current silicon technology with the chemical technology of DNA manipulation.

Fred Katayama explains how that could reduce the size of a computer to a speck on your fingernail, and significantly increase its speed.


FRED KATAYAMA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's used in determining paternity, investigating crime, cloning, and it's the focal point of the hyped Human Genome Project. It's DNA, the building blocks of life that contain the human blueprint.

Now, Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs has discovered another use for it, as a motorized machine. Researchers there say they can manipulate DNA in such a way that it may someday help build computer components on a molecular scale with astonishing abilities.

MURRAY: Using this technology, we should be able to achieve computers with a thousand times more computing power.

KATAYAMA: If it sounds fishy, you're partly right. Lucent researchers took DNA from salmon sperm and had it synthesized with a set of instructions. These DNA are shaped like tweezers, with two strands connected by a hinge. A researcher adds a strand of DNA which serves as a fuel. The strand attaches itself to the handles and draws the arms of the tweezers together. The tweezer shuts. Researchers add another fuel strand. It reacts with the tweezer. This time, the arms open.

In other words, the DNA acts like a motor that can be switched on and off, so the molecular switches can be used to assemble the electronic components of a computer. The DNA is microscopic in size, and that means little energy is required to operate it.

NADRIAN SEEMAN, CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR, NYU: We are down -- with DNA nanotechnology, we are now down to a scale where it really wasn't imaginable a few years ago to be able to actually organize matter as well as we can today.

KATAYAMA: Moore's Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, stipulates that the number of transistors that could fit on a microchip doubles roughly every 18 months, doubling computing power. But there's a limit to how many transistors can be crammed onto a sliver of silicon. And many experts say that limit will be reached within 10 years.

Lucent researchers say the current photolithographic method of etching transistors on chips could someday be displaced by their chemical approach. That's because DNA can assemble itself just like a crystal.

FRIEDRICH SIMMEL, LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES: The DNA itself only serves as a machine which places components at the right positions where we want to have them, so DNA just does the assembly.

KATAYAMA: So these molecular switches could also potentially be used to deliver drugs precisely to the part of the body that needs it.

(on camera): Because a molecule is 100 to 1,000 times smaller than that of a transistor today, Lucent researchers say they can use this technology to potentially shrink a desktop computer down to the size of a pinhead. And that means computers can be practically embedded everywhere, from walls to your clothing.

Fred Katayama, CNN Financial News, Murray Hill, New Jersey.


HAYNES: Can't get enough of that computer stuff? Well, hang on till "Chronicle," when we drop in on a summer camp that's all about your mouse and modem.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Sport utility vehicle or light truck drivers will want to pay particular attention to our next story. It concerns that massive, voluntary tire recall by Firestone Tires. The company says it involves millions of Firestone ATX, ATXII and some of its Wilderness brand tires, all manufactured in Illinois or Mexico. The announcement comes as U.S. investigators look into dozens of fatal crashes that may be linked to the tires, most of which are installed on Ford Explorers.

Firestone says it hasn't found specific problems with its tires, but the issue of whether Firestone and Ford will be liable in consumer lawsuits remains to be seen.


CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Firestone tire blew and the Ford Explorer flipped last week in the Florida Everglades. Now the family is suing both Firestone and Ford.

RALPH PATINO, ATTORNEY: They have not wanted to acknowledge for the last four years that they've had a major defect with these tires.

BIERBAUER: Nor does this 6.5 million tire recall legally acknowledge any defect in the tires. Firestone does say there are at least 50 lawsuits involving its ATX and Wilderness brands. Some have been quietly settled. Car buyers often get a separate tire warranty at purchase. But product liability lawyers say Firestone as the tire manufacturer and Ford as the installer of those tires on their vehicles could each be held liable in lawsuits if the tires are found defective and responsible for accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the possibility of tire failure in 46 fatal accidents. Ford and Firestone suggest drivers also bear some responsibility. GARY CRIGGER, BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, INC.: Most of the incidents we have reviewed indicate improper maintenance or damage to the tires, which is often caused by underinflation of tires.

RALPH NADER, CONSUMER ADVOCATE: If the tire manufacturer and the auto manufacturer, in this case Firestone and Ford, didn't put a red alert warning on their owner's manual about this, they're not going to get away with that kind of defense.


HAYNES: What if I told you you could out-pitch some of baseball's all-stars if you had the right ball? You don't believe me?

Well, we're not throwing you a curve here. Rick Lockridge explains in our "Science Desk" that if you have a wiffle ball and you know how to make aerodynamics work for you, you can step up to the mound a champ.



ANNOUNCER: Whitey shows you how to throw curves immediately, just like a Major Leaguer, with the fabulous, original wiffle ball.


LOCKRIDGE (voice-over): Wiffle ball has now been around for nearly half a century. And so from the look of them have some of the players.

The enduring appeal of this sport for many is that they can make the ball dance and curve in ways Major League pitchers can only dream of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a certain aerodynamics that is involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, the air pressure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finger position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's because of the holes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not taking no class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No scientific way, just get it over the plate.


LOCKRIDGE: Actually, there is a scientific explanation. It's called the Magnus force, named for the German physicist who discovered it in the mid-1800s. He found that a rapidly spinning ball in flight creates uneven turbulence that pushes it to one side. Other physicists who have actually studied the wiffle ball say its eight oblong holes amplify the Magnus force and make the ball curve toward whatever direction the holes are facing.


ANNOUNCER: Hold the ball with the wiffle holes on the left and your pitch will curve to the left.


DAVID MELANEY, SON OF WIFFLE BALL INVENTOR: This is essentially identical to the very first ball that was ever sold.

LOCKRIDGE: David Melaney's family still runs its wiffle ball empire out of this small factory in southern Connecticut.

MELANEY: What this machine does is seal the two halves together using heat.

LOCKRIDGE: Melaney says there are eight holes in a wiffle ball because his dad and grandfather, who invented the ball, found eight made the ball curve the best.

But why call it a wiffle ball?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea.

LOCKRIDGE: Turns out it comes from the word "wiff," baseball slang for striking out. And in competitive wiffle ball, there's a lot of wiffing.

(on camera): It's so difficult that these guys claim if a Major League baseball player tried to come out and play in one of these tournaments, he would embarrass himself utterly.

(voice-over): But the sport is a hit with players. More tournaments are popping up on the Internet every year, and the wiffle ball company can be proud of one curve in particular: an upward sales curve over the past 47 years.

Rick Lockridge, CNN, Trenton, New Jersey.


HAYNES: In "Worldview," calling home: a calling to a spiritual path and calling on the past. Our stories take us to Europe, North America and Asia. We'll meet a lama -- the one "L" kind -- a man who trained in Nepal and now teaches his religion in the United States. We'll check out a spiritual search at Stonehenge in Great Britain. And parlez vous Francais? There's a new way to do that in Paris.

"Worldview" gets things started in France, one of the oldest and most historically significant countries of the Western world. Our story today takes us to Paris, where it seems residents of France's capital city are chatting it up on cellular phones. And they're not alone. Each year, the number of people using cell phones around the world increases by the millions. Recently, conflicting reports of possible health risks posed by radiation from cell phones raised concerns among many users.

Still, the convenience of cell phones is indisputable. And if you're a cell phone fan, you might want try this one on for size: a cell phone that you can actually wear.

Peter Humi recently spotted such a contraption in Paris.


PETER HUMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why is this man talking to himself? Actually, he's not. He's talking to his jacket.


HUMI: And his jacket, in turn, could be said to be talking to this man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The body of the telephone is here in this inside pocket. It's very simple. I have this button for having the line.

HUMI: The microphone is in the collar, the phone is voice- activated, and there's a keypad stitched into the lining. Which is all very well, but why bother slicing open a jacket and filling it with cell phone parts in the first place?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main reason is that we plan the phone will be integrated in lots of objects, usual objects.

HUMI: So it's not a fashion statement, although cell phones have been spotted on catwalks already this year. This jacket was bought off the rack.

(on camera): The jacket with the cell phone incorporated is lightweight: less than 400 grams, or about 12 ounces -- the weight of an average steak.

(voice-over): And speaking of food, Andre Weill (ph) predicts the future will see cell phones adapted for kitchen appliances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the cooker, the fridge.

HUMI: Researchers say the ultimate goal is to make the technology ubiquitous, hands-free and user friendly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm calling home. Nobody is answering.

HUMI: Maybe he should leave a message with his fridge.

Peter Humi, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE) RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Now onto Great Britain; England, to be specific. England is the largest part of the four political subdivisions that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are the other three political divisions of the country, which is often called Great Britain or simply Britain.

England is the industrial and trading center of the United Kingdom. It's also home to Stonehenge. The ancient stone monument, believed by some to be a place of magic and mysticism, has been a place of pilgrimage for people from around the world. The purpose of the site remains unknown, but many archaeologists agree it was likely a spot for religious ceremonies, and some say the arrangement of the huge stones has astronomical significance.

Now, for the first time in over a decade, Stonehenge has again been opened to the public. Thousands of people gathered there recently to celebrate the summer solstice.

CNN's Amanda Kibel has more.


AMANDA KIBEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a damp and misty dawn, the solstice at Stonehenge. The sun hung in a shroud above the stones whispering the turn of the seasons. For the tourists, druids and new age travelers, who had been kept far away from the stones for 16 years, the return to Stonehenge was pure magic.

MATTHEW MCCABE, ORDER OF BARDS, DRUIDS, AND DVATES: For most druids, Stonehenge is one of the most sacred places in this whole landscape around here, nestling as it does in the center with its observational horizons. It's an absolutely magical place.

KIBEL: Thought to be as old as 5,000 years, the standing stones have, over time, meant many different things to different people. For the druids, this is a sacred place. They believe the stones are charged with energy. Others believe it is a prehistoric calendar, a burial ground, or even an astronomical observatory.

But Stonehenge scholars do agree the stone circles are aligned with both the winter and summer solstice, making it a place of pilgrimage from around the world to celebrate the changing seasons.

When revelers clashed with police in 1984, English Heritage, which administers the site, banned solstice celebrations, allowing only a select few to get close to the stones. But with these restrictions lifted this year, it was clear that people had come to celebrate and to pay their respects. For some, it was enough to simply touch these ancient, enigmatic stones.

Amanda Kibel, CNN, London.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Next, we explore one of the world's major religions: Buddhism. Founded in India 500 years before Christ, Buddhism is a dominant force throughout most of Southeast Asia. The religion encourages followers to reach an ideal existence of detachment from all desires and worldly things. These teachings stem from a man named Siddhartha Gautama, who founded the religion. He eventually became known as Buddha, or "enlightened one."

Buddha's teachings currently hold 330 million followers, but one man has followed Buddha's paths all the way from New York to Nepal in search of meaning. Now he's considered a lama, or Buddhist monk, and teaches Buddhist thought to people in his homeland.

Bill Delaney reports.


BILL DELANEY, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The man now known as Lama Surya Das wandered 30 years amid the wilds of the world's pilgrim trails to arrive here and now, the elusive eternal present where mystics live -- a journey, though, that didn't exactly begin amid ancient Tibetan chants, but with a young Jewish guy from Long Island named Jeffrey Miller, who wanted to know something more about the meaning of everything.

LAMA SURYA DAS, TEACHER OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM: The stirrings go back a long way, probably even to past lives, but who knows? The week after I graduated from college, I went to the Himalayas into India to trace the source. I didn't want to just study about it in graduate school, I wanted to find it out for myself.

DELANEY: A hard journey guided by Buddhist masters, struggling with often silent retreats that sometimes lasted three years at a time in Shangri-Las with unheavenly heat and plumbing.

He learned to speak Tibetan fluently, became a close friend of the Dalai Lama, and reached a level as a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism no Westerner ever has.

SURYA DAS: The good news is that all of this treasure trove of ancient wisdom is available to us today. Of course, it depends on us as to what we do with it.

DELANEY: What Surya Das is doing now back in the West is publishing two best-selling books and maintaining a dizzying schedule of lectures and retreats around the country and the world, expressing a vision rooted in Buddhism of what he sees as melting-pot spirituality, emerging in the melting pot that is the United States.

SURYA DAS: All of these traditions throughout the millennia exist here in this country almost for the first time next to each other, rubbing shoulders. And of course we're free to stay in our church or -- of origin. But I think most of us are enriched by the cross-fertilization that we have today. It's a real opportunity.

DELANEY: A chance, Lama Surya Das believes, to create a more personal, meaningful spirituality within or without traditional structures. SURYA DAS: Within that shell of religions is the spirit. That's what moves us. The downside is that we could become spiritual dilettantes. But the upside is that we could find a tailor-made spiritual practice path for ourselves.

If we can see the God or the divinity, the Buddha in everyone and everything, every moment becomes sacred, every breath becomes like a prayer, as St. Paul said. That doesn't mean we have to be reciting formal prayers, every breath is soulful, breathing in and breathing out. It doesn't take an hour; it doesn't even take a half an hour or 15 minutes. Breathe, relax and smile.

DELANEY: Too simple? Well, Surya Das says that first breath we really pay attention to is the indispensable step toward the deep, spiritual peace of the masters who taught him.

SURYA DAS: While you're at a difficult meeting or with your mate, just take a moment to breathe and relax, and then get on with it. The clarity will definitely benefit your relations. It's not selfish to take a moment for your true self. It will definitely change all of your relations sooner or later. Stay with it, give it a chance.

DELANEY: In a country he says, sure, is materialistic, but also full of searchers, one of whom set out a quarter century ago or so to find out what it all means. He found, he says, the untold depth of each moment, each breath.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Concord, Massachusetts.


HAYNES: All right, so we've covered a lot of ground today. We started talking about chips, modems, microprocessors. Question is, were you able to follow all of it? If not, I have a suggestion. Let's skip class and head out to camp. That's right, I said camp. Get your backpack, maybe your bug spray, and, Oh yes, bring your laptop and your questions.

Martin Savidge is taking us to CyberCamp.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At CyberCamp, the only bugs are in the programs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, I got my first page messed up, so I got to fix it.

SAVIDGE: CyberCampers from 7 to 16 spend a week mastering the mouse, the keyboard and a future most parents can't even comprehend. Eight-year-old Corey is taking advanced Web design.

(on camera): Now can I really find this Web site?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can, actually. After this week, or another week after this, you might be able to find

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Nine-year-old Ahad (ph) just programmed music for his site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's called "Action Cartoons." I thought this was action music, so I can put it on my site.

SAVIDGE: Don't expect to find kids with taped glasses or pocket protectors.

TOM MCHUGH, CYBERCAMP: We have students who come in who have very little computer background but have heard about our program and want to test the water, get their feet wet. And they are most -- they're just as likely to excel as someone who has a lot of background. So, no, definitely not geeks.

SAVIDGE: First appearing in 1997, the camps have spread to 22 colleges. Last year, the company that runs them grew 400 percent.

(on camera): This group of campers is actually making their own robots. They not only put them together, but then they program them. They have infrared sensors. Some of them even have speakers so that they dance and sing. When I went to camp, I made a clay ashtray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I put my foot in front of it, it backs up and turns.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Like real camp, the kids team up to tackle projects. Thirteen-year-old Christina Lopez is a counselor in training and hopes to get more girls into the cyber world.

(on camera): What do your other girlfriends do?

CHRISTINA LOPEZ, CYBERCAMP COUNSELOR: They sit at home and, you know, go skating on Friday nights.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Courses cost between $329 and $800.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's a lot better than just sitting at home and watching TV.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Especially when you can build your own robot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Last week I took programming.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Writing to mom and dad from CyberCamp is no problem. Letters home are e-mailed.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: Well, if you're a runner, a wrestler like me, or a swimmer, you're probably familiar with the ways to improve your performance. For most of you, that means hard work and practice, fine-tuning your body to perform at its highest potential. But you're probably also familiar with supplements some athletes use outside that rigorous practice.

CNN Student Bureau takes a closer look at one of those sports aids.


REAGAN BAGNIL, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): Ed Jhee uses creatine supplements. He says he has seen amazing results.

ED JHEE, STUDENT: It's worked for me in ways that I never thought it would have.

BAGNIL: Creatine is an amino acid produced by the body and found in meat and fish. Athletes in high intensity sports, such as sprinting or weightlifting, can train harder with extra creatine. Jhee says it helped him gain 32 pounds of muscle and made him stronger.

JHEE: You have to be willing enough to work out and be dedicated enough to use the stuff properly in order to get the positive effects of it.

BAGNIL: But some college athletes are not talking about their creatine use. That's because of a new proposal that has many experts concerned. The NCAA, the college athletes regulatory board, passed legislation this spring that prohibits colleges from recommending or even talking about muscle-building aids with their athletes. Creatine could be the next target if it is ultimately defined as a muscle builder.

Why the concern? Nutritionists say athletes can overload on creatine supplements. With the wrong dose, some experts say it can cause dehydration and possibly kidney failure.

DR. CHRISTINE ROSENBLOOM, SPORTS NUTRITIONIST: So far, it hasn't been shown to have any harm. That's not the same thing to say that it's safe. We don't have a lot of long-term safety data. We don't know what it will do in a young population. So, the American College of Sports Medicine in their position stand recommends that no one under the age of 18 use creatine, because we don't know what the effects will be in a young population. So, the safety issue is still up in the air.

BAGNIL: The NCAA ban on muscle-building supplements may have little impact on creatine use because it's legal and so widely available.

Ed Jhee is one athlete who plans to keep taking supplements in spite of the perceived risks. He says, in three years, he has had no negative side effects. But the long-term effects are still in question.

Reagan Bagnil (ph), CNN Student Bureau, Atlanta.


HAYNES: All right, one last thing before we leave you. Fifteen Americans have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. It's given to individuals who make significant contributions to the security and national interests of the United States. Yesterday, recipients included AIDS researcher Dr. Mathilde Krim; General Wesley Clark, who led NATO's allies during the Kosovo campaign; the Reverend Jesse Jackson, a civil rights leader; and former Senator George McGovern. All well-deserved.

OK, we'll see you back here tomorrow on CNN NEWSROOM. Have a great Thursday, everybody. Take care.



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