THE WORLD'S SCARIEST ROLLERCOASTER
WOODIE FLOWERS Hi, my name is Woodie Flowers. I know that
sounds like the name of a cartoon character, but it's easy
to remember and it's always served me well. I'm actually a
professor at MIT with a lot of curiosity about the world around
me and how it works -- which is why I'm standing here dressed
like a skydiver. This new series is going to explore the frontiers
of science, and I'm going to get to go along for the ride.
I'm going to ask some questions, maybe answer a few, poke
fun occasionally, -- and test some of the frontiers myself.
Which brings me back to the skydiving outfit. I've always
wondered what it would be like to jump out of a plane -- so
I'm going to find out.
DIVE INSTRUCTOR Head up nice and high -- hard arch.
WOODIE FLOWERS This is fantastic -- I hope you guys can hear
DIVE INSTRUCTOR All right give me a left turn, Woodie.
WOODIE FLOWERS Okay.
DIVE INSTRUCTOR Stop -- turn left.
WOODIE FLOWERS Those are nice, swift turns. This is a 3-D
sports car. Here I come!
DIVE INSTRUCTOR 3,2,1, flare. All right, good job, Woodie.
WOODIE FLOWERS Wow, I'm sure the guys with the cameras did
a great job, but there's no way pictures can do justice to
what I just experienced. I knew this was going to be a fun
job. Actually, I spent a whole day training for this, and
it cost several hundred dollars. And even though the risk
associated with the jump was probably less than that of driving
out here this morning, it's pretty clear that sky diving's
not for everyone. But a lot of people would like to get the
kind of thrill that I've just experienced without spending
the time, and the money, and the nerve. And that's the reason
that amusement parks are big business -- and that's the reason
that the designers of rides are always trying to outdo one
another. We wondered how you would design a ride that was
both thrilling and safe -- so we've spent over a year tracking
the designing and testing of what is -- at least for now --
the world's ultimate rollercoaster.
NARRATION Three or four major rollercoasters open up every
year. And in a never-ending competition to be the best, each
is bigger than the one before it. Today, coasters can be twenty
stories tall and reach speeds of seventy miles an hour. The
coasters are designed to be safe. But their intimidating looks
are beginning to scare off less adventurous riders -according
to the designer of this coaster, Ron Toomer.
TOOMER I really think a lot of people are going to walk up
to that thing, look up there and say, "My gosh, that's too
big for me -I'm not going to get on it."
NARRATION So five years ago, Ron began toying with a brand
new concept in coasters. Here's how all existing coasters
work: The twists and turns and ups and downs in the track
create forces pushing and pulling on the rider. That's what
makes them fun. But always the greatest force is pushing car
and rider against the track -- even when you're upside down
in a loop -- and thatís what keeps you from falling out. To
demonstrate, we joined a high school physics class as they
rode a coaster with their own homemade force meters.
TEACHER That's going to register on this. When we're standing
here still, this is our one unit of force. This would mean
that on your rear end, when you're in that car, you'd feel
your normal weight. But as we go around the bottom of that
curve, you're going to see this thing pull down to two, three,
or three and a half times your normal body weight.
NARRATION For the experiment, each student was supposed to
look at and remember the force holding them into the car at
different points in the ride. But it proved easier said than
STUDENTS Too scared to look at it. We didn't look at it --
we forgot. Gonna do it again.
NARRATION We made it easier for us to see by slowing down
the action. Entering a loop, there's a force three and a half
times greater than normal gravity pushing them into their
seats. Even when upside down at the top of the loop, they're
being held into their seats by a force two times gravity.
So at no point do they really feel as though they're upside
STUDENTS You felt like you were on Earth rather than on a
rollercoaster upside down. Didn't have a sensation of being
upside down. Except for the visual sensation of looking upside
down, it felt like you were sitting right-side up.
NARRATION In all existing coasters, that's just as well --
otherwise car and riders would fall off the track. 0nly briefly,
at the crest of a hill, does a rider feel like he's coming
out of his seat. But what if a coaster could be designed that
did a barrel roll -like an aerobatics plane?
TOOMER We're looking for an advancement of rollercoaster
technology here that would allow us to feel more like that
kind of a sensation where you're able to roll over, fly along
upside down, and you really are upside down. You're hanging
upside down, you look down and there's nothing below you but
the ground -- and there's no tracks -- there's nothing there
to hold you up.
NARRATION It was this new twist in rollercoaster design that
Ron and his company, Arrow Dynamics, decided to explore. This
is an early run of a quarter-scale model. To create the barrel
roll effect, the car sits down in the tracks rather than on
them, as in existing coasters -- and to hold it up when it's
upside down, it hangs from a second set of wheels. These are
big innovations for a rollercoaster, and when we joined Arrow
in the early stages of development, there were still plenty
of questions to answer -- like just how much initial energy
the car would need to avoid the discomfort -- and embarrassment
-- of a problem like this! The main task though, was to stop
people from falling out -- the job of engineer Dahl Freeman.
FREEMAN Would you like to pull the restraint down now?
NARRATION The challenge is to come up with a restraint system
that holds people comfortably and securely, no matter what
their shape or size.
PASSENGER Feels great. Really secure.
FREEMAN So you feel more secure hanging onto the handles?
PASSENGER If we're going upside down.
FREEMAN We're going upside down.
PASSENGER I'll hold on.
NARRATION Ideally, the restraint system would be adjustable
to fit each rider -- but the time that would take between
rides would make the rollercoaster unprofitable. This system
works well for Cindy, an average sized woman. But Bill, who's
a little larger, would clearly have some problems. The lap
bar is meant to fit snugly across his legs.
FREEMAN Obviously, this is not going to restrain his body
and offer the support that he needs when this vehicle turns
on its side or goes upside down.
NARRATION Bill can be accommodated only by shortening the
lap bar so it can reach his lap. Now the system works fine
FREEMAN Okay, how do you feel?
BILL I feel really secure. There's no place to go.
NARRATION But can it still do a good job on someone Dusty's
size? Arrow's goal is to fit children four feet and taller.
Dusty's four feet four.
FREEMAN Pull that down so it's tight. Feel good? Feel locked
NARRATION The shoulder restraint only keeps him from falling
forward. it's up to the lap bar to hold him in.
FREEMAN Okay. Dusty, how ya doing?
FREEMAN Good. Things feel OK here?
FREEMAN Okay, your legs are tight, look like they're good
and tight, your arms -- you're holding on a little bit here,
your head's clear, OK, and you're off the seat just a few
inches. Let's turn him back up.
NARRATION Dahl is increasingly confident his system will
hold riders as different in size as Bill and Dusty, comfortably
FREEMAN There's a partial compromise here. If I were setting
it just for him, I'd probably move this lap bar another 1
or 2 inches. But the way the seat is designed in the lap bar,
we got a range here, where we can lock him in securely, and
as well deal with someone that probably weighs 4 or 5 times
as much as he does.
NARRATION Devising an effective restraint system was a problem
they'd anticipated. But the first time they put a mock-up
of an entire car on the track, there was a nasty surprise
in store. Because the car sits down between the rails, when
it goes through its barrel roll, the rear passengers are brought
within a dangerous few inches of the track.
FREEMAN Boy, look at that.
ASSISTANT That looks pretty close.
FREEMAN You know, we haven't had to deal with this before,
in that the tracks have always been pretty well under the
vehicle. But this track's coming right up around as we go
through the spiral. We're going to have to do some shielding
here, some more shielding than we normally do. One thing I
don't want to do is close this in with a canopy. We've got
to keep the vehicle open to maintain the thrill of the ride.
NARRATION But in the end, a small rear canopy is the only
solution to making sure hair and hands don't get caught between
wheels and track. At last, it's time to erect the test track
-- one quarter of the finished ride. The joins must be precise
to avoid dangerous lurches. But even the greatest care doesn't
mean the coaster will run as predicted. While expected speeds
and forces were all carefully calculated, they were based
on assumptions about wheel friction. And this is the first
time a coaster has alternated riding on top and bottom wheels.
If the friction is less than expected, the coaster will run
faster than planned -- maybe dangerously so. Which is why
the first passenger won't be a person, but a machine -- an
accelerometer. It's much like the student's home-made force
meters, but it records front-and-back and side-to-side forces,
as well as up-and-down. Three years after work began, the
coaster is hoisted into position for its maiden voyage. The
starting height is still something of a guess. If it's too
low, the car may not pick up enough speed to make it around
FREEMAN There's always that feeling inside -- you know --
what can happen that we don't know about yet? And maybe it'll
end up just going back and forth right here in the dip and
not make it all around or something like that.
NARRATION The moment of truth. It looks like a perfect run
-- but were the forces recorded by the accelerometer in line
with predictions? All seems to be well -- even in the critical
region under the line when the coaster is hanging upside down.
So it's safe for a human rider. Who will it be?
TOOMER I don't ride them anymore. I get sick, for one thing,
and I don't like to go upside down for another; it's just
not my thing.
NARRATION It's the engineers who'll take the first spin.
After all, they built it!
ENGINEERS Bring lap bars down first. Tug on them a little
bit. Then the windows go up. Okay?" Have a nice ride.
NARRATION From the sound of it, Arrow's created the new thrill
it was seeking.
FREE MAN This ride concept opens up a whole new dimension
to us. And we can see, instead of the horizontal spirals,
we can actually see a drop, rolling. We think that'd be wonderful.
We see a high speed spiral -- just exciting things in our
minds and they've got to be developed and tested, but I can
tell you right now they're going to work.
WOODIE FLOWERS The first time the public will have a chance
to try the new coaster is in 1992. I can hardly wait. Although,
now that I've skydived, and felt weightlessness for fifty
seconds, even flipping upside down might seem a bit tame!
But I must admit that I'm not always going to be jumping out
of airplanes as part of this job. After all, I still spend
most of my time teaching design engineering at MIT. That means
being in this office a lot. But what I hope is that my engineer's
eyes are going to help in our explorations out there along
the frontiers of science. There's so much to see. Stay tuned!
back to top
NEW HEARTS FOR NEWBORNS
NARRATION This is Colleen Barber. She's two weeks old. She
and her mother are waiting -- waiting for a heart.
MOTHER Good girl. You are a pretty girl.
NARRATION Colleen's own heart is so badly deformed she's
only being kept alive by medication and a respirator. Her
only hope for life is getting a new heart in a transplant
MOTHER The waiting is the hardest part. The not knowing what
the outcome is -- just the ifs of the whole surgery. But this
is her last chance, and we're going to give her that opportunity.
NARRATION Dr. Leonard Bailey has pioneered infant heart transplants
here at Southern California's Loma Linda Hospital. His work
hit the headlines five years ago when he attempted -- unsuccessfully
-to transplant a baboon heart because of the acute shortage
of donor hearts for newborns.
BAILEY These babies really don't have options. If we don't
operate on them, they're going to die. And some of them will
die in the next few hours; some of them will die in two or
three weeks. So you search desperately for a donor to remedy
NARRATION If Colleen is to live, another baby has to have
died -- and its parents agreed -- in their grief -- to donate
its heart. Colleen's wait is over. A heart has been found.
But even as she's prepped for surgery, the transplant team
is worried. The donor heart may be too damaged to survive
BAILEY The donor had a long resuscitation in an effort to
save that baby's life. That effort failed, and the baby died,
but the heart and other organs took quite a beating in the
process. Had this donor been as far away as Texas or Kentucky,
we would not have been able to use the heart. As it turns
out, by keeping the amount of time to a minimum between donor
and recipient, I think we're going to get away with it.
NARRATION If Bailey is wrong, Colleen will die. She can survive
only this one transplant attempt. The gamble begins with the
removal of the heart from the donor baby. Weighing barely
an ounce, it's the size of a walnut. Bailey must decide instantly
whether it's healthy enough to transplant.
BAILEY It's had a little trauma, but by and large it's a
NARRATION While waiting for Bailey's decision, the transplant
team has been preparing Colleen to receive the heart. The
process began several hours ago as bags of ice were used to
chill her body. Ail her blood will be drained from her before
the operation -and only if she's chilled to thirty degrees
Fahrenheit below her normal temperature will her brain survive
the hour or so the operation will take. Bailey carries the
donor heart, itself chilled in ice water, from the donor operating
room next door to Colleen's. With every moment, the heart
is slowly dying. By now Colleen's body temperature has been
lowered to sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit.
BAILEY Is the cooling even?
ASSISTANT Cooling nicely, sir.
NARRATION And Colleen's entire blood supply -- just eight
ounces -- is drained off. Even the slightest flow of blood
would make the delicate cutting and stitching of arteries
and veins impossible. The clamp isolates Colleen from her
blood -- and the surgery can begin. First Colleen's own, useless
heart is removed.
BAILEY This baby is about to be the best it's ever been.
NARRATION The donor heart is made ready to stitch into place.
Bailey connects it to Colleen's blood vessels -- and then
slowly, her blood is returned. Now comes the critical moment.
The ice bags are removed, allowing Colleen's body temperature
to rise. Now, it's up to Colleen.
BAILEY All right. Lungs are working.
NARRATION But will the heart work in its new body? In case
it needs a jolt to start it, electric paddles are standing
by. But within moments, Colleen's new heart starts up by itself.
BAILEY We were a little concerned about the donor, but the
little donor heart seems to have recovered quite well. So
NARRATION "So far" is the key phrase in infant heart transplants
-- because the operation itself is only the beginning of Colleen
and her new heart's attempt to live together.
BAILEY Stable this morning.
ASSISTANT Her X-ray looks remarkably good.
NARRATION Already, two days after surgery, she's had to be
resuscitated once when her new heart faltered.
BAILEY We may get away with this marginal arrangement here.
I think recovery is possible. Baby Colleen was quite a challenge
for us. She represented the outer margins, I think, of what
we can do with transplantation, and pleasantly. She and her
new heart have responded very well. I am very optimistic that
she is going to be OK, and anxious, actually, to see what
she's going to look like when all this is done.
NARRATION As with all transplant operations, the real barrier
to success isn't the surgery, but how well Colleen and her
new heart get on together. The constant danger is that Colleen's
immune system, recognizing the heart as foreign tissue, will
attempt to reject it. This is Garrick Tanner.
MOTHER Time for your medicine.
NARRATION He received his new heart two weeks ago, and every
day since, his mother has been giving him small doses of an
anti-rejection drug. He'll have to keep taking it every day
for the rest of his life.
MOTHER That's a good boy.
NARRATION So far, the drug's been doing its job -- and today,
the hope is that Garrick will be going home.
BAILEY Good morning.
MOTHER Hi there.
BAILEY It's a big day for you.
MOTHER I hope.
BAILEY You're actually going to take him home? How long has
it been since his transplant?
MOTHER Oh, it's been two weeks and two days.
NARRATION So far, so good. But Garrick, like all transplant
patients, is on a tightrope. The anti-rejection drug suppresses
his immune system. Too much drug and he could die of a massive
infection. Too little and his new heart will be rejected.
An early warning of rejection is a fast heart beat. Till now
it's been at about one hundred fifteen beats per minute.
BAILEY Well the only thing presently that's a little bit
of a glitch is his heart rate. He's been traditionally down
in the teens and twenties. And here resting, he's about one
hundred thirty, which may not mean too much but we'll keep
an eye on that. He may be beginning an immune response towards
his heart. And we'll try to make a judgement call on that.
NARRATION Garrick won't be going home today. This is Amy
Zuniga. She's been at home now for six months following a
heart transplant operation at Loma Linda -- and still her
mother checks her every day for signs she's rejecting her
MOTHER I'm very afraid that we won't be able to pick up that
she's having a rejection -- that I'll miss it, that I won't
have been careful enough or they'll be something that I'll
miss, and that she'll be in grave danger because of something
NARRATION This is a home video of Amy and her twin sister
immediately after they were born.
MOTHER Once she was delivered, they whisked her right away
to the next room, and there they hooked her right up to some
medication that would keep her heart functioning. And then
they handed her back to us so we could hold her and get to
know her for a moment. So for a brief moment we were able
to hold both babies together and enjoy that moment together.
But it's like, they tried to be very calm but you could tell
-- I mean, we knew that they were waiting in the next room
for Amy. And that once she was born, they were going to get
right on her and make sure that she would be safe.
NARRATION Amy's transplant went well -- and ever since, her
immune system has been balanced precariously between being
suppressed enough to keep her heart, while potent enough to
fight off infection. That such a balancing act is even possible
is the most surprising -- and dramatic -- of the breakthroughs
at Loma Linda's infant heart transplant program. It was a
discovery made by the transplant team's immunologist, Dr.
Sandra Nehlsen Cannarella.
CANNARELLA We're so used to fighting the immune system in
older individuals -- constantly worrying whether they're going
to get infected, or if we're too light on the immunosuppression,
they're going to start to reject. Surprisingly, and very pleasantly,
we have found that the infants manage most of this themselves.
They've kind of taken the job away from us.
NARRATION The explanation seems to lie in the special immunological
relationship that exists between mother and baby during pregnancy.
Even though the fetus is foreign to the mother, each tolerates
the other -- because of special cells produced by the fetus
that damp down its immune response.
CANNARELLA We're finding out that this state lingers on in
the post-birth period, for a period of anywhere from days
to a few weeks. And we've found that if we put a heart transplant
in during that time, the immune response is caught off-guard,
and we can kind of slip it in almost unnoticed. It wants to
protect it instead of killing it.
NARRATION For baby Colleen, the battle to keep her new heart
is just beginning. Little Garrick's rejection episode was
soon controlled, and he'll be going home in a day or so. Amy
Zuniga and her family have managed the delicate tuning of
her immune system for six months now. For Colleen, Garrick
and Amy, their new hearts have meant new lives -- so far.
WOODIE FLOWERS The hearts which Dr. Bailey transplants are
about the size of this plum. They have to grow inside their
new owners until they're about the size of my fist. I have
a small research group that's been working on a new artificial
leg for a long time. And we're not done yet. Because the problem
of designing a machine that mimics part of a normal body is
very difficult, even when you don't worry about the problem
of having it grow with its user. So, artificial hearts are
not the solution to the shortage of donor hearts for infants.
That means that of the three thousand or so babies that are
born each year that need a new heart, only a lucky few will
get one. So far, the program at Loma Linda has given new lives
to almost sixty babies. The oldest will soon celebrate his
fifth birthday. So far, so good.
back to top
WOODPECKER HOUSING CRUNCH
NARRATION In the summer of 1989, the Francis Marion National
Forest in South Carolina was a haven for one of America's
rarest birds, the red-cockade woodpecker. The woodpecker is
an endangered species because old growth pine forests like
this, once common in the south, are themselves disappearing.
The Francis Marion National Forest was special because here
the population of the red-cockade woodpecker was actually
on the increase. Then came the night of September 21st. 1989's
killer Hurricane Hugo struck South Carolina with almost unparalleled
fury -- record high seas and one hundred fifty mile an hour
winds. Watching the news reports with mounting horror was
ornithologist Jerry Jackson.
JACKSON I was keeping a very close eye on where it was headed.
I had been on the Francis Marion National Forest only about
two weeks before the hurricane hit and I knew what was in
store and it was disaster, I mean absolute disaster.
NARRATION In just a few hours, most of the Francis Marion
was leveled. Of the forest's one thousand seven hundred red-cockade
woodpeckers, one thousand were dead or missing. Many trees
snapped where the woodpeckers had drilled their holes, crushing
the birds sheltering inside. It's this destruction of the
woodpeckers' homes -- even more than the loss of the birds
themselves -- that was the most devastating of Hugo's blows
to the species. Because the red-cockade woodpecker's home
is definitely not just a hole in a tree. To find out why the
red-cockade woodpecker's nest is so special, Frontiers came
here, to Mississippi's Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. It's early
in the morning -- the best time to catch a woodpecker. Noxubee
-- another of the few scattered old growth pine forests of
the south -- currently is home to just forty-one woodpeckers.
White bands mark trees with woodpecker holes. The question
for Jerry Jackson is whether the bird in this tree is sleeping
JACKSON Hey! We got one!
NARRATION If this is a female, then she's the only one at
home. That's because males and females keep separate living
quarters -- and it's the father who nests with the babies,
while the mother sleeps off by herself.
JACKSON Oh, this is a bird that has bands on it, so we've
got us a recapture. We'll be able to tell how old this bird
is and when it was banded.
NARRATION And its sex -- because only the males have the
JACKSON They only show these red-cockades when the birds
are aggressive or courting. This bird's a little aggressive
right now because he doesn't really like being caught.
NARRATION Because it's a male, there are probably babies
in the tree - and their hungry cheeps give them away Both
male and female share the feeding chores during the day.
JACKSON Well, get back to your nest, fella.
NARRATION So here's the first reason the holes are valuable
-- each family needs two. The second reason is visible around
the hole itself - sticky sap, looking like candle wax. The
sap is there because, unlike other woodpeckers, red-cockade
woodpeckers choose to make their holes in live trees, not
dead ones. And making a hole in a living tree is hard -- very
JACKSON The average length of time that it takes for a red-cockade
woodpecker to excavate a cavity is four point seven years.
As a result, those cavities are extremely valuable pieces
of property, and they're passed down from generation to generation,
and the males inherit them.
NARRATION Four point seven years' work per cavity is quite
a mortgage to pay off -- and it raises the question: Why?
Why do red-cockade woodpeckers drill through live sapwood,
while other woodpeckers just peck their way through dead wood?
And here's the answer -- the gray rat snake. It's a superb
tree climber, its scales giving it an excellent grip on the
bark. But around the nest hole, the woodpecker has pecked
the bark to keep the sap flowing. As the snake approaches
its goal -- a succulent meal of eggs or nestling -- the waxy
sap gets thicker and thicker. The sap works its way between
the snake's scales, sticking them together. But if the sap
protects against snakes, it doesn't keep biologists away.
Fortunately, Jerry Jackson's motives for climbing the tree
are more benevolent. While the parents are away gathering
food, Jerry plans to check on the nestling. This is a three-week
old female. She's banded, then weighed -- during which she
gets her first real look at the world she'll soon be joining.
Jackson's work is part of a detailed monitoring of the birds
here in Noxubee from birth to death.
JACKSON That about has it -- forty-five point three grams.
This bird is very close to fledging. You can see it has very
well-developed wing feathers, but that the wing feathers are
still growing. And those feathers will be completely grown
probably within the next week, and this bird will be out of
the nest by then.
NARRATION Out of the nest -- and needing one of her own.
Her home nest will be inherited by a brother. Fortunately,
in Noxubee, there are still a few trees to be drilled, a few
homes to be had. But back in the Francis Marion National Forest,
Hurricane Hugo crushed hundreds of woodpecker homes. With
so many trees destroyed -- ironically, snapped in two often
because they contained woodpecker holes -- the shortage of
homes is acute. And because it takes so long to make new cavities,
wildlife managers here feared that the seven hundred birds
surviving the hurricane would die homeless. So in the spring
of 1990, they went into the construction business. Biologist
Carolyn Bachler first drills a horizontal hole, just as the
bird does. Then she drills a second hole at an angle from
above, to create a vertical cavity down through the middle
of the tree. The idea is to reproduce in a few hours what
it takes a bird over four and a half years to make. BOB
HOOPER Here's the entrance, here, and it's about nine or
ten inches deep. The light-colored wood here is sap wood,
and it is living wood and the resin actively flows through
it. The reddish-colored wood here is heartwood and it is essentially
dead -there's no resin movement through it. The bird needs
the heartwood into which to put its cavity so that it doesn't
have to contend with resin within its cavity.
NARRATION Carolyn Bachlet scrapes off some bark to set the
sap flowing. The tree is in move-in condition -- but it took
half a day's work. Here's a pre-fab option. This time, the
tree is excavated by chain saw. A little putty -- and a bird
house is slipped into place. Even sap holes are started for
the hoped-for tenants. A little paint gives the impression
that the sap is already flowing. In all, over six hundred
artificial cavities were built in the Francis Marion Forest
over the winter. With spring -- and nesting season -- came
the chance to find out if they worked. Eddie Taylor checks
one of the bird house implants with a light and a dentist's
TAYLOR Bob, we've got some eggs.
HOOPER Is that right? How many?
TAYLOR Got two.
HOOPER That's the very first nest.
NARRATION The same nest, three weeks later -- and hungry
chirping signals that the eggs have hatched.
TAYLOR What I'm gonna do is fixing to pull the nestling out
of the nest so we can band them. What I'm gonna use is this
little instrument right here. It makes little nooses, and
then I'll pull it tight and it'll grab them and I'll pull
them out gently. It doesn't hurt the young because their bones
have not calcified at this age, and so they're still malleable.
And we can handle them gently without hurting them.
NARRATION The chicks' eyes aren't open yet -- but they can
tell the difference between light and dark. And dark means
their hole is covered by Mom or Dad arriving with food. At
least that's usually how it is. A nest-by-nest inspection
of the trees that remain in the Francis Marion National Forest
this spring showed that sixty-five percent of all the new
birds were born in the artificial cavities A band on the bird
will help keep track of it in the future. The man-made nests
appear to have given the woodpeckers here a new lease on life.
But even as this most important population of red-cockade
woodpeckers has been rescued from a rare natural disaster,
the erosion of their habitat all over the south continues.
The real threat to the species' survival remains man, not
JACKSON There's a lesson to be learned from Hurricane Hugo,
and we're very fortunate we have the opportunity to learn
that lesson. And that lesson is that every population is important.
And that we can't count on having a few large populations.
This probably the best-known woodpecker in the world. We know
what it requires -we know what it needs. We've just got to
make up our minds to do what it needs to protect the remaining
WOODIE FLOWERS It's lunch time in the city -- a great time
and place for people watching. It's a lovely day -- there's
just about any kind of food available -- and the company's
congenial -- and judging from people's faces, most folks are
relaxed and happy. Now, we're pretty used to reading people's
mood from their faces. When people are happy they look happy.
When people are sad, both their posture and facial expression
reflect that sadness. And I for one had always assumed that
the feeling comes first, and the facial expression follows.
I'm happy, so I smile. I'm angry, so I frown. It's pretty
obvious, right? Well, one thing scientists love to do is challenge
back to top
LAIRD What most people believe -- everyone sort of believes
as a lay person -- is that the face expresses the emotion
that already exists inside. And what I believe is that that
is backwards -that rather than the feeling coming first and
then the expression, that first you have the expression, and
the feeling of the expression as it's happening is what the
feeling of an emotion is.
NARRATION Dr. Jim Laird is a research psychologist at Clark
University in Worcester, Massachusetts. His experiments depend
upon people being deceived -- and part of the deception is
that Laird should look like a laboratory scientist and use
impressive equipment -- even if it doesn't really work, and
its data are faked.
LAIRD This machine used to measure physiological data years
ago, but it's old and obsolete now. We use it now just because
it looks like real science.
NARRATION Beth is a student volunteer who doesn't know the
electrodes, like the machine, are fake. She's been told they'll
measure her face muscles as she sets them according to Laird's
LAIRD OK, great. Now there's one other thing I should have
mentioned. There's another source of error in our measurements
which is variations in mood. We all have these almost random
moment-to moment fluctuations in mood which we don't pay attention
to often times, but in this case I want you to be aware of
those kinds of changes. OK? Good. So that's it. Ail you have
to do then is sit there and let the machine do the work.
NARRATION It's these mood changes that Laird is really interested
in. He gets Beth to move her face muscles one by one.
LAIRD Narrow your eyes a little bit. And now I want you to
contract the muscles along the center line of your nose by
flaring your nostrils and pulling your upper lip up towards
NARRATION She's never told what expression to make, but eventually
an expression of disgust is molded on her face.
LAIRD Now look at this.
NARRATION Beth thinks she'll be asked questions about this
picture later -but it's all part of Jim Laird's elaborate
charade. The real test comes when she fills in a questionnaire
asking her what her mood was during the experiment. The answer
LAIRD Great. Now for the next one, what I'd like you to do
is to open your eyes wide.
NARRATION Again, Beth is told to move her face bit by bit.
LAIRD Eyes open wide and let your mouth relax open a little.
these are often hard. Just relax. I know.
NARRATION Laird is trying to mold an expression of fear.
Beth's having problems because she doesn't know her face is
meant to show fear, but she gets it in the end. As well as
a happy face. And a sad one. In every case, when she's asked
how she felt during the test, the answer matches the face
she's been wearing like a mask.
LAIRD On this one, Kim, what I'd like you to do is to scoot
to the front edge of your chair, put your feet together and
under the chair.
NARRATION Jim Laird does a similar experiment molding people's
LAIRD Now turn your upper body towards the left. Good, twisting
a little at the waist. Keep your head facing front.
NARRATION Again, if coached into an exaggerated pose, the
subject feels the appropriate emotion.
LAIRD Bring your hands up about to mouth level with your
palms forward and lean back just a little. OK. Stop. Now if
you could just use this to describe how you're feeling.
NARRATION So in all Laird's experiments, the feeling follows
the facial or bodily expression of the feeling, not the other
way around. In fact, he argues, what we call feelings are
our interpretations of what our bodies and faces express.
LAIRD The major premise of my work is that we are observers
of ourselves in the same way that we're observers of others.
That is, we don't have any special way of knowing about ourselves;
instead we have to, in an unconscious way, observe ourselves.
So that what we know about ourselves comes from essentially
NARRATION If Laird is right, then appearing to feel something
should generate the feeling itself. Testing that idea involves
LAIRD Well, let me explain what this is all about. I'm sure
you know that ESP doesn't work. But, we have some ideas about
ways that might improve ESP performance -- kind of tuning
exercises, in effect. First of all, could you lean forward
and put your arms on the table in front of you.
NARRATION The ESP talk is a smokescreen for the real experiment.
LAIRD And then what I'd like you to do is to gaze into each
other's eyes for two minutes. You don't need to think about
anything, and you shouldn't talk.
NARRATION The idea for this experiment came when Laird saw
two people in a cafeteria gazing into each other's eyes as
if they were in love. These two subjects have never set eyes
on each other before.
LAIRD If you can get people to express an emotion, they will
then feel the emotion. And in this case, gazing into someone's
eyes is an expression of love. So we're hoping they will then
NARRATION After answering questions that included how they
felt about each other, the subjects are told the real purpose
of the experiment.
WOMAN I was kind of surprised that the experiment was about
emotions and gazing into people's eyes and seeing if that
actually made you feel the emotion of love, because I kind
of have to admit that I thought I did, a little bit. And I
thought maybe, you know, it was just this person.
MAN As I was filling out the questionnaire, most of the responses
that I made about her were more on the positive side than
on the negative side. Whether that means that it worked or
not, I don't know. But, there might be something to it.
NARRATION If it all sounds a little too simple to be true,
Jim Laird is the first to agree -- but only, he argues, because
feelings are complicated things.
LAIRD The effect is consistent and real. It's not gigantic
-- I mean it's not like these people leave the experiment
enraptured forever. But then, remember that we're only manipulating
in a tiny part of the real-life pattern of love. When people
are beginning to fall into love, they do all sorts of things:
They touch, they look, they share confidences, the heart pounds,
all of those things. And they must all contribute to the full-fledged