from the Ocean
France Art of Science
FLOWERS I'm Woodie Flowers, host of Scientific American Frontiers.
Welcome to our special French edition - and where else would
we come to open the program but Paris? Take a look around.
La Defense. Not quite the familiar Paris of sidewalk cafes
and tree-lined boulevards, is it? It's called La Defense -
a vast complex of skyscrapers, shops and office buildings
including this giant arch. Here we are on top of the arch,
which is supposed to line up with some of the famous Paris
landmarks off in the distance - the Arc de Triomphe and the
Louvre Palace. Of course, Parisians say that the arch was
built in the wrong place, that it really doesn't line up.
But I kind of like the place. Its aggressive feel matches
the French attitude to the modem world - and that's what's
led to the kind of scientific successes we're going to see
in the next hour. In science, though, you need more than the
right attitude - you need good ideas. And that's what's behind
our first story - one really terrific idea. The story begins
about thirty miles from here, on the other side of Paris.
FROM THE OCEAN
This is sixteen-year-old Raschad. He's surrounded by the bustle
of a typical French Sunday morning street market. But what's
on Raschad's mind is the coming week - finally, the problem
he has with his leg is going to be sorted out.
EL-AIAM NARRATION (V.O. TRANSLATION) It's
been a bit less than a year. Day after day it's hurt. More
and more. At first it was only at night, but after four or
five months, the pain was pretty unbearable. Help for Raschad's
leg is going to come from here, a South Pacific coral reef.
Every few months, selected coral heads are gathered for shipment
back to France. But they're not going to end up as some coffee
table ornament. Professor Pouliquen will be using some of
that coral, after he removes the tumor that's growing in Raschad's
leg. It shows up here as a dark patch. The tumor will be cut
out, and the space filled with a cylinder of coral.
(V.O. TRANSLATION) I can ask the laboratory to make the exact
size of the coral cylinder. But because the measurements we
make aren't precise, we're going to ask for three different
cylinder sizes, to be sure to have the right one during surgery.
Here's where they shape the coral into spare parts for the
human skeleton. Thin wedges are used for eye socket reconstruction,
for example. But why use coral? Here's one reason. This is
human bone. Under the microscope it's full of interlocking
passageways. Cory structure, on the right, is just the same
- perfect for new bone cells to grow back into. It's time
to make the parts for Raschad's surgery. From the twenty five
hundred different corals in nature, they use just three types.
This is common bryn coral - its structure closely matches
human leg bone. The first of the three cylinder sizes is drilled
out. Then it starts on a long process of cleaning and sterilization.
By the time these pieces appear in the operating room, they
will be completely pure coral. Itís the day of Raschad's surgery.
Early in the morning there's an injection of a weak radioactive
tracer material which will be absorbed by the tumor - by the
lesion, as doctors call it.
WIOTAND So we canít see the femur here and the lesion is here
in white. I think it would be easy to locate this lesion now.
With the tumor marked like a kind of beacon, Raschad heads
out through the streets of Paris to Professor Pouliquen's
specialized orthopedic operating rooms. France pioneered the
use of coral implants for bone, and it's beginning to catch
on in other countries - but right now, Professor Pouliquen
is probably the world's most experienced surgeon in its use.
Raschad, blissfully unaware, is watched over by a bank of
automatic monitors. The first task - pinpoint exactly the
tumor's location. They use a detector to pick up the radiation
injected early this morning.
WIOLAND We tried to locate the center of the lesion, which
was found when the signal was highest.
(SUBTITLES) Yes, it's there. No problem. Are you certain you
found it? Yes, I know.
With the tumor located, Pouliquen can go ahead and cut it
(SUBTITLES) Here's the piece!
The cylinder of bone is checked for radiation. If it shows
up, then there's no doubt they removed the tumor.
The lesion is removed, and there on the table, and not in
the bone of the patient.
It's time for the coral implant. It'll be fitted into Raschad's
leg bone - skeletons of primitive marine organisms, becoming
part of a human being. Within a few minutes, the procedure's
finished - there'll be good news for Raschad when he comes
(SUBTITLES) Everything went well.
(IN ENGLISH) Exactly as we hoped.
Here's the implant in position. Soon, Raschad's own bone cells
will spread through the coral passageways. In two or three
years, the implant will be gone - replaced by new natural
bone. But if coral becomes popular in surgery, couldn't this
threaten the world's coral resources? Professor Pouliquen
took some advice on that.
(V.O. TRANSLATION) I have no hesitation at all in using coral
because Commander Cousteau - who everybody knows - says that
if every orthopedic surgeon in the world used coral, they
would do less damage in ten years than a single fishing boat
in one day! And it seems nice to me that the oldest animal
in the world is helping the newest!
FLOWERS (V.O.) We're back at La Defence - which Parisians
make good use of. Clustered around the plaza, there's a whole
bunch of high-tech companies.
FLOWERS (ON CAMERA) This is sort of a showcase for France
Telecom, the government run phone company. And this is Minitel.
It's an electronic yellow pages. Or you can make travel reservations.
Believe it or not, there are 15,000 services available through
this thing. There's nowhere else in the world that a computer
service like this is available ~o everybody as a matter of
course. In fact, we used it a lot when we were doing the research
for this program, but the Minitel is old technology, now.
Let's take a look at what's coming next.
FLOWERS (V.O.) It's called Numeris - France's new high-speed
data network. It allows transmission of high quality images
- for remote medical diagnosis, for example. Or how about
sending out your resume?
My experience as an executive secretary...
FLOWERS (V.O.) You can include C.D. quality sound, too. Like
.Minitel, the Numeris network is available to all; and like
Minitel, lots of new businesses are springing up around it.
...on this computer.
FLOWERS Now this is the part most people are going to love
or at least have a strong opinion about. Itís a genuine videophone.
Telephone calls with sound and a picture. It's not science
fiction. It'll be on line within a few months.
FLOWERS When you get out into the countryside, you're reminded
that France is still very much a farming nation - with easily
the richest agriculture in Europe. Here we are in a fairly
typical French farmyard - a couple of dogs, some cows, and
scratching around in the dirt, about a dozen hens. These hens
look pretty happy, don't they? That's because over the course
of several thousand years, farmers have, almost unconsciously,
selectively bred from the birds that are content in these
conditions. But now, all over the industrialized world, most
hens are not raised in a farmyard. Their surroundings are
dramatically different. So are hens still happy?
This is an average size hen house - a mere 48,000 hens. In
France, hens have European regulation size cages - seven by
ten inches per bird. In the U. S. it could be smaller. There's
automatic feeding. It's an egg factory. But it still takes
two pounds of feed to produce one pound of egg. And a hen
won't lay every day, but on average every 1 1/3 days. Farmers
want more productivity maybe they could get it with happier
hens. This is a French TV program about the treatment of animals.
While farmers are worried about production, the European public
is more and more concerned with animal rights. And there are
some powerful voices speaking out.
BARDOT (SUBTITLES) This fourth "SOS" program I'm presenting
for the sake of the animals we eat if that has to be their
miserable destiny. So their existence can at least be clean,
without pain and without nightmares. Today, that's still far
from being the case. The conditions of veal calves, pigs and
chickens are pitiful. They never see daylight in their batteries!..
Here at this agricultural research station, three hens of
a common commercial egg laying breed are being placed in a
rather special cage. Hens always peck things. And in this
case pecking brings a reward - the food trough slides into
reach. But then, it slides right back again. Unless, that
is, the correct button is pecked again. Very rapidly, the
hens get the idea, and then they'll keep up a constant barrage
of button pecking. Enter animal researcher, Jean-Michel Faure.
FAURE (SUBTITLES) There is a very emotive feeling in the public
about the cage. It looks like a jail usually. And this is
the feeling of people. What we are trying to do with this
experiment is to know the feeling of the hens.
In his imaginative experiment, the hens now have constant
access to food. But they've already been taught to associate
button pecking with a reward. And right there in the cage,
there are buttons to peck. So what happens when a hen pecks
a button? What happens is the cage gets larger - by a few
inches per peck. And there's plenty more cage to be opened
up, if the hens so choose. The movable cage wall slowly works
its way back over the course of about five minutes, so the
hens have to peck again to keep the cage enlarged. By asking
the hens in this way, Faure has come up with an awkward result.
FAURE (SUBTITLES) From this size they are no longer working
to enlarge their cage. Whereas from there,: they do which
means that in fact, their preference is probably in; this
Neither farmers nor animal lights advocates will want to hear
that - it seems the hens don't want unlimited freedom, but
they do want a cage twice the legal minimum. Faure's next
experiments are with these baby Japanese quail. He's trying
to breed animals that will be happiest in crowded conditions.
Here's a way to measure how much a bird likes crowds. This
one doesn't seem so interested in its companions - low sodal
motivation, as he calls it.
FAURE (SUBTITLES) It moved a bit towards the others, but you
see it moved very few. Now you see its going the other direction
and it moved very slowly. So this is called very low sodal
In contrast, by selectively breeding from the most friendly
birds, Faure has been able to produce behavior like this.
FAURE (SUBTITLES) This one is high social motivation. And
you saw it running a lot and very quickly to go to the others.
And now when the belt is not moving he's staying very close
to the others with from t/me to time some pecking behavior
which is a social interactions. :
Here's another behavior test. This bird's show2ng the natural
'freezing' response that many animals use when a predator
threatens them. It's essential for survival in the wild, but
in domestic animals Faure believes it just produces unnecessary
nervousness. Some animals continue this fear reaction for
minutes at a time, before coming out of their trance. Less
nervous animals would be better off, the animals will be better
off, he says.
FAURE (SUBTITLES) Low fearful animals will be upper in any
condition. And in fact, what was done during the process of
the investigation was to reduce the fear reaction of the animals.
Faure's been able to breed very non-nervous birds.
FAURE (SUBTITLES) It was very short. One second.
They show practically no 'freezing' response at all.
FAURE (SUBTITLES) One second.
The next step will be to extend the idea of breeding happier
animals to other species - first chickens, maybe even pigs
or cows. So if animals have to be kept in intensive conditions,
and if a happy animal is a productive one, then Faure's approach
could have real benefits - for farmers, and for animals.
FLOWERS We are really screaming along! This is the TGV Atlantique
- the latest high speed rail line open between Paris and Bordeaux.
It won't be long before a high speed rail network will cover
ail of Western Europe. We Americans have fallen sadly behind
the Europeans and 7apartese in rail travel. In fact, this
TGV Atlantique technology has recently been chosen for a future
line to be built between Houston and Dallas. There were no
American systems to consider. Let's go find out how fast we're
WOODIE (SUBTITLES) How fast are you going?
COUSTET (SUBTITLES) We're going at 300 kilometers an hour.
300 kilometers an hour - that's five kilometers a minute.
One kilometer every I2 seconds!
FLOWERS (SUBTITLES) ...faster than you can do it in a plane.
FLOWERS It's called boules. The idea is to get as close as
possible to the little marker ball there. It is played in
town and village squares all over France, not necessarily
in such a magnificent setting as here in the center of Paris.
Although I'm not a champion boules player... one thing I don't
have to worry about is whether my eyes can judge the distance
about right, whether my arm will make the right throw when
I want it to, or whether or not I can balance upright when
I try. Those kinds of actions are completely automatic and
unconscious - for most of us. But imagine what it would be
like if we could not take such basics absolutely for granted.
Lydie Pavesi is paralyzed from the waist down. She is on her
way to her daily physical therapy session, at this rehabilitation
center. Two months ago, an as yet undiagnosed nerve disorder
struck her legs. Now she has to make the attempt to re-learn
the basics- to bend her knees... or just to stay balanced
for a few seconds.
PARKER (SUBTITLES) You can lean back. Go ahead. Steady yourself
-- head straight.
This is pretty difficult, especially when you have serious
nerve problems. Hugues lost his right leg in a road accident.
with an artificial leg. Now he has to learn to walk again.
Bathroom scales help him see if he's putting his weight onto
the new leg.
PARKER (SUBTITLES) He's trying to put maximum of weight on
his right side. put all the weight on the good one.
MASSE (SUBTITLES) Are you going to take the scales out? Because
the tendency is to
PARKER (SUBTITLES) Rest a minute then walk a little. I'll
take the scales away.
For Hugues, as for Lydie, this is grim and hard work. No fun
at all. Raphael, another road accident victim, has irreversible
brain damage - but still loves to talk.
(SUBTITLES) You want to find out why the film crew's here?
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) Is it about what Lydie did in therapy?
(SUBTITLES) Is it what I did this weekend?
Raphael finally gets through.
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) Position your feet and push. Wait. Don't
move. Push hard on your left leg. Now the right.
Raphael has a daily routine as well, which therapist Bruno
takes him through. Twenty years ago, patients like Raphael
would not have received this kind of aggressive therapy. But
now the body's remarkable hidden reserves have been recognized
- progress may be slow, but it's real.
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) It's an exchange between the two of us.
Exactly like a dance. I have an action, he reacts, and that
produces another action on my part It's a learning process
we go through together. Good morning! We'll make a U-turn
to the right.
The rehabilitation center happens to be located on a beautiful
section of France's Atlantic coast. A few years ago the staff
here had a seemingly crazy idea. This morning Hugues, Lydie
and Raphael are not heading for their regular therapy sessions.
They're going for a sail.
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) Now the legs. You let us carry you --
And you walk.
Like Bruno, many of the staff here are keen recreational sailors.
Why shouldn't the patients take advantage of the area as well,
the staff asked. They tried out the idea with borrowed private
boats, and it worked so well that, four years ago, they persuaded
a local bank to donate the centers own boat. Now every day,
weather permitting, a group of patients heads out to sea.
As they leave harbor, it soon becomes dear that Raphael and
his companions are not just along for the fide.
CASTAING (V.O.) Itís the first time he'll have tried to steer,
on his artificial leg. Itís going to be very hard.
Meanwhile, the others have work to do.
CASTAING (V.O.) You pivot your body back like this. Then you
swing forward. Pivot your whole body!
Without thinking about it, theyíre doing the same tasks they
do in their therapy sessions. Only now it's natural, theyíre
motivated - there's a job to do. Even someone as severely
disabled as Raphael can join in.
CASTAING (V.O.) Raphael. I'd like you to hold this in your
hand. Pass it to Raphael.
And it's not just the physical work that's important.
MASSE (SUBTITLES) Every day we see the boat on the sea and
we can't go...and imagine... And today we can go on this boat.
It's good, very good - yes?
For Bruno, it's the very act of gett4ng away from the center
to broader horizons that brings the greatest benefits.
CASTAING (V.O.) I think that when someone has had an accident,
his personal horizon becomes really limited. To show him a
new horizon - it's a psychological symbol. It has real psychological
impact on his rehabilitation.
As the day unfolds, everyone gets their chance to work, and
to have a little fun.
CASTAING I think Raphael likes very much to drive. One...Two...three...OK!
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) Look. Go a bit to the right. That's fine
CASTAING A good progress the second time for this group, it's
very, very good.
(SUBTITLES) I'll probably throw up.
CASTAING Not on me if you don't mind.
Procedures on the boat are not quite as casual as they might
seem. Bruno is familiar with every patient's case history.
So with Lydie he concentrates on her right knee, which shows
CASTAING Turn the tiller to the right, otherwise we're going
to have a big problem here!
(SUBTITLES) Call that a big problem!
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) Just a bit.
Once they've avoided running the boat onto the rocks, they
can return to the real business of the day.
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) I'm steadying your knee in the back and
front. Nothing to be afraid of. Now I'll tell you something:
Lean on your left leg - it's the better one, and I'll control
your knee with my hand. Push at the same time.
As they head back in at the end of the day, there's one last
opportunity that Bruno exploits.
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) A bit more to the right still. Look.
Follow my finger.
As boats enter the harbor, the square panels silhouetted against
the roof must be lined up. That puts the boat within the safe
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) I'll show you. You have to line them
up like this.
It's a perfect exercise in visual perception. Something Raphael
has to relearn.
CASTAING (SUBTITLES) Turn! Turn!
Until, that is, ifs time to save the boat again - this time
from colliding with a fishing trawler. Although by now, the
locals are getting used to the somewhat unpredictable boat
from the center. In fact, not only have the neighbors gotten
used to the center's sailboat, they think it's a great idea.
So in what's become an annual event, boaters from miles around
have gathered at the center. In the crowd - 130 patients:
men and women, boys and girls! At the dock - amateur yachtsmen,
fishermen, coast guard, even the local firemen. here to make
the center's special sailing weekend a success. There's even
a piper on hand, to play the farewell to departing sailors
that's traditional to the area. It's one big party for all
concerned. But for the patients it's more than that, it confirms
what their own boat has taught them - that reaching for the
horizon is something they can do.
ART OF SCIENCE
NARRATION Of course, the "Art, of Science" feature
for this episode comes from France. You're going to see world-class
animation that's normally used for fancy ads, but this time
its for a different and very interesting purpose. The idea
here is to help the public visualize what their part of Paris
might look Like in the future and so - to help them get in
the planning process. Now none of this exists, but you'll
see a new university campus, new railroads, even old apartment
blocks disappearing to make way for new residential areas.
"Here's a vision of the future," the film says. If you want
to help shape it, here's your chance. Let's imagine! Let's
imagine a world where everything is more exciting. More accessible.
More human. Please... imagine! Imagine the Upper Seine region.
FLOWERS I'm a few thousand feet up in the French Pyrenees,
the Spanish border is about 20 miles over that way, it's a
wonderful day for a hike out here alone in the mountains.
Actually, I'm not quite a/one. Every couple of hours my little
companion here mites to a French receiver system on board
a satellite, as it goes overhead. Then my exact location -
it could be anywhere on earth, land or sea - is relayed back
to a ground station. I also have 16 different pre-arranged
messages that I cart send and I've got an emergency channel.
Now, say I was in trouble. I'd use it. Let me show you what
(SUBTITLES) You've got an alarm? Okay.
FLOWERS (V.O.) My emergency signal comes to the Argos system
control center at Toulouse, in southwest France.
FLOWERS Actually, the big advantage of the Argos system is
that, on the transmitter end, the user doesn't have to do
anything at all. Let me show you what I mean.
FLOWERS Can you show me the albatross data?
GROS Of course.
FLOWERS Wait a minute. Can we zoom in on that, and what am
I looking at?
GROS See the tracks of four albatrosses which were tracked
using the Argos system. What's the distance here?
FLOWERS About twelve thousand kilometers.
FLOWERS (V.O.) In 1989 French biologists took this home video
as they strapped tiny, six-ounce transmitters onto albatrosses
in the Southern Ocean. For the first time, it was discovered
where these birds go on their month-long trips. The Argos
system was designed by the French for global environmental
monitoring, and now details of ocean currents, weather, or
volcanic activity are pouring back to Toulouse.
FLOWERS So what was happening in these little tight areas?
It stopped near an island, perhaps he was waiting for good
winds to continue his trip. The biologists must love this
system. Yes, they were quite astonished by the distance traveled
by such animals.
FLOWERS (V.O.) Here's another Argos application. This is US
Coast Guard video of the North Pacific. In the summer of '91,
patrol planes were dispatched to check out Taiwanese fishing
boats - which looked like they had American salmon aboard.
How did we know that? Because our National Marine Fisheries
Service uses the Argos system.
MAGER Are there we go. We've got all the data now retrieved
from Toulouse and this data will show us the locations of
the Taiwanese drift net fleet.
FLOWERS (V.O.) From Silver Spring, Maryland, Alan Mager keeps
track of the boats - which by international agreement carry
Argos transmitters. In July, some boats strayed above the
permitted area, and right away Alan knew it thanks to the
MAGER The Coast Guard simply doesn't have the resources to
mount a very large monitoring system program. So without this
satellite monitoring system it would be an absolute exercise
in futility. There's no way that we could tell what these
people were doing or where they were.
GIVING DEMO (SUBTITLES) As you can see it's very compressed
in the bag, and it'll absorb oil better.
It may not be everyone's idea of a great show, but this audience
has come from all over the world to see it. It's a demonstration
to show off the latest in French oil cleanup methods. There
are various kinds of absorbents for different conditions.
This one's designed for use with a floating skimmer and containment
boom system. The French say their ability to respond to major
oil spills is second to none - but it's a lesson they learned
the hard way. It was 1978. The Amoco Cadiz, a supertanker
fully loaded with crude oil, had impaled itself on rocks off
France's English Channel coast. Sixty-eight million gallons
of oil were released. It was the largest tanker spill ever
- six times larger than the Exxon Valdez in Alaska. Today,
the coastline of the Brittany region has largely recovered.
Although among the many people who make their living from
the sea, bitter memories of hundreds of miles of devastation,
remain. Yvon Madec runs an oyster farm, a few miles up one
of the many bays and inlets that cover the Brittany coast.
Now, he's back in business, shipping his prized delicacies
out to markets all over Europe. But in 1978, he was wiped
out. And he'll never forget the day it happened.
(V.O. TRANSLATION) We were expecting the off. But when it
arrived it was unimaginable. The bay was like a funnel, and
practically everything came into it. Thousands of tons into
Yvon keeps a photo album showing their pathetic attempts to
dean up the dying oyster beds.
(V.O. TRANSLATION) We were without anything. We had nothing
to fight with. We were totally disorganized.
This salt marsh was submerged in off. It's being inspected
by two marine biologists who've monitored the recovery of
the coast in the years since the spill.
FICHAUT (SUBTITLES) The sectors with the tar mats are there...
FICHAUT This is typical of the front part of the marshes,
salt marshes, also of the gravel beaches. This is a tar mat,
an asphalt pavement. This is the very hard stuff. This is
a pavement made of a mixture of oil and sediment. This is
very resistant to erosion.
Many of these tar mats were actually caused by heavy cleanup
equipment that was driven onto the marshes and beaches. It's
one of many lessons learned. Sometimes it can be better to
leave delicate areas alone - to leave nature to its often
FICHAUT (SUBTITLES) I suppose that there are crabs in these
burrows here. Here, there is a little one here. Get out.
These banks were very oily after the cleanup and the crabs
digging burrows are one of the main agents that participate
in cleaning up the mud because they release oily mud in the
water. And I bet, here is some - you see here for instance,
this area. There is a sheen on the mud and this sheen is coming
out from the green crab burrow which is fight here. Right
now, nobody really knows how important the remaining oil is,
or whether the productivity of the coast has been permanently
damaged. They are sure, though, that things like this - a
waste heap forgotten by cleanup workers - could have been
avoided. They're certain they could have done many things
better - if they'd been prepared, and organized.
FICHAUT This is not a desert area. Here there are places for
hundreds of years, each one is a chief or tends to be the
chief on his area. And we had plenty of kinds of dean-up and
despite the fact that the state was trying to centralize a
dean-up, we had different approaches in each village in fact.
To be efficient we have to be super organized.
And super organized they are here, in the Mediterranean. We're
on board a ship from the national marine pollution agency
that France set up after the Amoco Cadiz. Their latest research
is not about oil, but it's to prepare for gas or chemical
spies. The balloons may look festive, but they are deadly
serious. They're for an experiment that will simulate a toxic
gas release off the crowded beaches of the French Riviera.
Oil they now think they can handle - there are stockpiles
of equipment prepositioned around the coast. There are plans
for running booms across every sensitive inlet. And there
are trained people. But they're determined not to get caught
again with the newer gas and chemical threats. Inflatables
equipped with helium balloons and gas detection equipment
fan out around the anchored test ship. The balloons will be
used to suspend a hollow plastic gas sampling tube above each
VOICES (SUBTITLES) Duplex from Albacore. You are in position.
Remain lined up with the boat. And Riviere from Albacore.
You can stop there.
With the boats in position, the gas is slowly released. It's
completely harmless, but it will disperse just like a poisonous
or explosive gas. They'll be able to measure it from the surrounding
inflatables. Running the experiment up on the bridge is Roger
Kantin. He's watching the computer they'll use to predict
how the gas should move. If the predictions agree with the
actual measurements, the computer could be a lifesaver in
(SUBTITLES) The computer gives what the extent of risk is,
in terms of risk of explosion, risk of toxicity during inhalation,
and we can give recommendations in terms of response emergency.
If this really was a leaking tanker, two miles off a crowded
coast, then a computer model telling you where the gas was
going would come in handy. Radio Voice Duplex from Albacore.
Reposition your balloon at 40 meters. We're going back up.
IN BOAT (SUBTITLES) Forty-two point four. Albacore from Duplex.
Okay. Received. Confirm forty-two point four.
We are running the model according to the information we receive.
And we are comparing the provision in terms of vertical extent
of the cloud, comparing with the results given by the experiment.
The model is derived to predict with good precision the shape
of the cloud.
The next test involves one rather large navy helicopter. Emergency
responses at sea frequently involve the use of helicopters.
So the question is, how safe would it be to fly over a leaking
ship? On board the helicopter, the scientists have lowered
another plastic sampling tube. It's thrashing around in the
down wash, while below the simulated toxic release is turned
on. Above, there's some disturbing news. The gas concentrations
are very patchy - low one second, high the next. Everybody
on board would have to be in breathing apparatus. And it's
not just the turbulent air kicked up by the rotor blades that
is the problem. When the scientists took another look at their
measurements, after the day's tests, they found that even
without the helicopter, the gas cloud around the ship had
the same dangerous patchiness. Although there's a lot more
work to do, the French have obviously learned the lessons
of the Amoco Cadiz. Their coastline's going to be better off
as a result.
FLOWERS That's all for our special French edition of Scientific
American Frontiers. Next time, we'll be back home - with stories
about how smart animals are.., can computers pretend to be
people and get away with it.. saving woodpeckers from hurricanes..,
and the world's scariest roller coaster. Hope you can join