tv 60 Minutes CBS January 8, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PST
before you. >> steven joel sotloff was beheaded by isis in september of 2014. his execution was seen around the world on video. did you ever watch it? >> i have viewed steven's body with his head on his chest. >> i had to see that because i needed to be sure that that was him. >> steven's parents have been shattered by it, and by their strong belief that the american government could have saved his life. >> you've seen drones before, but never like this.
a swarm of autonomous drones flying themselves. it's the start of a military revolution. now it's looking at me. machines operating on their own. >> it recognized you instantly. >> using artificial intelligence to make decisions faster than humans, and raising questions the pentagon is only beginning to grapple with. so, if the machine's better, why not let it make the decision? >> this goes to the ethics of the question of whether or not you allow a machine to take a human life without the intervention of a human. >> i would say at this point, i am certain. >> certain? >> yeah. that's a rare thing to say, for a prediction for a scientist, and i'm willing to say it. >> you do know how mind-boggling this sounds? i mean, a new planet hasn't been discovered for 170 years. i believe you think it looks like this animation over my shoulder here? >> we think that it's somewhere between ten and 20 times more massive than the earth.
>> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm leslie stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm david martin. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories, tonight on "60 minutes." we live in a pick and choose world. choose. choose. choose. but at bedtime... ...why settle for this? enter sleep number and the lowest prices of the season. sleepiq technology tells you how well
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for the parents of one of those americans, art and shirley sotloff, the murder of their 31- year-old son steven was shattering because of the brutality of his execution, and because they think he could've been saved if not for what even the white house now admits was its own ineffectiveness in dealing with the crisis. but what really sealed their son's fate, the sotloffs believe, is the government's policy against paying ransom. >> steven sotloff: i am steven joel sotloff. i'm sure you know exactly who i am by now and why i am appearing before you. >> stahl: steven joel sotloff was beheaded by isis. his execution, on september 2, 2014, was seen around the world on a video. did you ever watch it? >> art sotloff: i have viewed steven's body with his head on his chest. >> shirley sotloff: i had to see that because i needed to be sure
that that was him. >> stahl: steven was born and raised in miami, attended college in israel and became a freelance journalist, reporting from war zones where information was scarce, like yemen, benghazi, libya and syria, where he went in the summer of 2013. just before he crossed into aleppo, he called his dad. >> art sotloff: he contacted me and told me not to worry and... but, if i don't hear from him within four days, that i should get in touch with one of his colleagues. >> stahl: ooh, that's ominous. he didn't hear from his son, not just for four days; it was four excruciating months. then, finally, they got a ransom letter with demands for the government to free all the muslims in u.s. custody, or... >> shirley sotloff: then, there is a last option: "$100 million euros will secure steven's release." >> stahl: which is something
like $137... >> art sotloff: $137 million. >> stahl: what was your reaction? >> shirley sotloff: the reaction was, how the hell are we going to get this money together? >> stahl: they thought the u.s. government would help them, but they were bewildered and then infuriated when they say they met a stone wall: the u.s. policy forbidding the paying of ransom. >> lisa monaco: it's some of the hardest work that i've done. >> stahl: lisa monaco, assistant to president obama for counterterrorism, oversaw the hostage crisis. >> monaco: these are horrible choices. on the one hand, if you don't pay a ransom, you are putting an innocent life at risk. on the other hand, if you do, you're fueling the very activity that's put them at risk in the first place. >> stahl: did you feel ever that the policy might be wrong? >> monaco: the policy, that's been a decades-old policy of not paying ransom. i think is the right policy. >> stahl: so, you didn't question that. >> monaco: we didn't. we believed that that was important to maintain.
>> stahl: but with the exception of the u.k., most european countries do pay ransom without publicly admitting it. steven was held with 22 other hostages, including the three americans-- james foley, peter kassig and kayla mueller-- who were all killed. once the european governments paid ransom, isis released their citizens, one of whom smuggled out this letter from steven. >> art sotloff: he was speaking how he can't stand seeing all the captives leave from all different countries. how could the united states just stand by and not do anything? >> stahl: as the european hostages came out and spoke of mock executions and waterboardings, the sotloffs decided they would try to raise at least some of the money themselves. but then, they and the other u.s. families attended a meeting in washington with officials on the national security council. >> art sotloff: all of us were
saying, "well, why can't we try to save our kids?" and they said, "because it's against the law. we do not negotiate with terrorists." >> stahl: did they say you would be prosecuted? >> art sotloff: they said, "you could be prosecuted, and also your donors could be prosecuted." >> stahl: so, if i gave you money, i could be prosecuted? >> shirley sotloff: yes. >> art sotloff: correct. >> stahl: did anybody say, "are you kidding me?" >> art sotloff: yes, they did. yes, they did. >> stahl: so, it was a little bit contentious. >> art sotloff: oh, yeah. we kind of verbally fought back. >> stahl: they were threatened that they could be prosecuted. is that true? >> monaco: so, what's true is that some families felt threatened, and that was unacceptable. and that should never have happened. >> stahl: are you suggesting they may not have been threatened? >> monaco: no. what i'm suggesting is, i wasn't present when any threats were made. but what matters, lesley, is that these families felt that way as they were going through the most horrific time they will ever encounter. >> stahl: but was that the policy?
was that true? could they have actually been prosecuted? could someone who contributed to pay ransom also be prosecuted? >> monaco: so, what's true is that the justice department has never prosecuted a family, or friends of a family that has paid a ransom. >> stahl: but was it the policy? >> monaco: well, what's... the... the policy is, the united states government will not pay ransoms or make concessions to terrorist hostage takers. >> stahl: that policy is based in part on a presumption that paying ransom invites more hostage-taking, but that is refuted by a new study that examined the case of every known western hostage taken since 9/11. it was co-authored by peter bergen, a counterterrorism expert, for the nonpartisan new america foundation. >> peter bergen: they don't know necessarily you're american when they take you. it's sort of a target of opportunity. so, some countries are known to pay ransom-- the french, the germans, the spanish. >> stahl: even though they don't
admit it. >> bergen: they don't admit it, but they do. their citizens have much better outcomes than americans. americans are huge outliers here. you're twice as likely to have a negative outcome compared to every other western hostage. >> stahl: you say "negative outcome," you mean murdered. >> bergen: murdered, die in captivity or just remain in captivity. >> stahl: 14 of the european hostages held with steven made it home. those from countries that don't pay ransom didn't; four americans and two brits died. i keep playing in my own head this horrible situation where the american hostages watched the other ones be set free, and i wonder if it wouldn't have been better if... if our government did what the european governments did, which was pay ransom but then deny it, in order to save their citizens. why couldn't we have done that? >> monaco: we'd still be fueling their terror activity. whether it's hostage-taking or whether it's terrorist plots, to
kill americans here in the homeland or elsewhere, is not activity that the united states government should be in the business of funding. >> stahl: what do you say to critics of the policy of not paying ransom? that the beheadings of the americans ended up having more value to isis than any money would have been. that's really what put them on the international map. these beheading videos were a gold mine for isis. do you... do you see it that way? >> monaco: i don't, and i think it's giving brutal, murderous thugs too much credit. >> stahl: what about the argument that if you pay ransom, you're just encouraging them to kidnap more? also, that the money is going to go toward terrorism? and so, what's the comeback to that? it's a hard thing. >> art sotloff: going back to
what president obama said to us in person, that he would do anything in his power to save his children if he was in the same situation. and i say that he should put himself in the same situation. and i think that the government has a responsibility to protect its citizens in whatever way that they can. >> stahl: what do you say when you hear people argue that steven knew he was putting his life at risk by going into syria at that point and, you know, kind of, the burden's on him. >> art sotloff: steven was driven by truth, that he had to report the truth. he saw that there wasn't information coming out of these areas, and that's really what drove him. >> stahl: in the summer of 2014, nearly a year after steven was abducted, president obama ordered a military operation to rescue the hostages.
>> monaco: this involved a number of... a large number of military service members and special operators, who... >> stahl: putting their lives on the line. >> monaco: putting their lives on the line, going into the heart of isil territory in syria. and as we were monitoring the operation, word came back, some very devastating words: "it's a dry hole," which meant that they weren't there. >> jihadi john: this is james wright foley. >> stahl: about seven weeks later, james foley became the first of three american hostages beheaded. steven appears at the end of the video. >> jihadi john: the life of this american citizen, obama, depends on your next decision. >> stahl: the sotloffs then received an audio message that sounds like steven was forced to record, designed to pressure the u.s. government. it was given them by the f.b.i. >> art sotloff: this is always tough for me because it's
actually his voice, and it just makes me feel like he's still in the room with us. >> steven sotloff: to mom, i do not have much time and will probably not get this opportunity again, so i would like to get straight to the point. my life depends on obama's next decision. mom, please don't let obama kill me. mom, you can still save my life, just like the families of my previous cellmates whom i'm sure you've met. fight for me, i love you. >> shirley sotloff: powerful. >> art sotloff: i got to blow my nose. i'm sorry. if i could excuse myself? >> stahl: it's okay. it's... it's cruel. >> shirley sotloff: very. i don't know what they wanted us to do. >> stahl: and always saying "mom" like that. >> shirley sotloff: mom. >> stahl: mom, mom. >> shirley sotloff: yeah. >> stahl: they learned of steven's death a few days after that. >> art sotloff: and he's in a much better place.
>> shirley sotloff: we know he's in a better place. >> art sotloff: and, you know, he isn't suffering anymore. >> stahl: a couple of months later, they met with president obama. >> art sotloff: i asked the president, i said, "how did you feel when my son was being held up by his neck and they were saying that this message is for you, president obama; steven's life depends on your next decision? how do you feel about that?" and he looked down, and he really couldn't answer the question. i guess it's a question that shocked him because, it shocked me that i even asked him that. >> stahl: how do you feel now about what happened? maybe your role with the families whose kids were beheaded. >> monaco: i feel like, in many respects, we did not do right by these families, that we failed them. >> stahl: you feel you... you failed the families? >> monaco: we have americans who were brutally killed. >> stahl: after the beheadings,
she put together a task force to review how the government handles hostage-taking, that included a meeting with the families. >> monaco: it was a lot of raw emotion and a lot of frustration and grief. >> stahl: anger at you? >> monaco: anger at us, anger at the loss of their loved ones, anger at the government. >> stahl: one of the task force's conclusions was that the various government agencies working on hostages were not coordinating with each other, which led to the creation of this new unit. >> have we seen any claims of responsibility? >> not yet. >> stahl: led by the f.b.i., it brings together all the key agencies that work on hostages-- including the c.i.a., defense and state departments-- in one place to work side by side, 24/7. they share intelligence and keep the families informed. >> any results? >> no, sir.
not yet. >> stahl: however, the no-ransom policy was not changed; it wasn't even reviewed, though the justice department, in this public document, all but promised not to prosecute a family or their friends who do pay ransom to terrorists. is it a good policy now? are you happy with the way it has turned out? >> art sotloff: it's a better policy than what it was. i mean, now it gives at least people the opportunity to try to save their family members. >> stahl: uh-huh. >> art sotloff: but i think it's far from really solving the problem, because there is still money that has to be raised and paid, and the average family just can't do that. >> stahl: and you think our government should. >> art sotloff: absolutely. >> shirley sotloff: it's a human life. how do you let an american go like that, just let them be killed and murdered? every human is valuable.
everybody has a family, and they want them to come home. >> stahl: the sotloffs have started a foundation in steven's memory called "two lives" that, among other things, funds safety training for freelance journalists traveling to war zones. today, there are still dozens of americans being held hostage. in 12 days, donald trump will have to decide on the best strategy for getting them home. i may reach my blood sugar and a1c goals by activating what's within me with once-weekly trulicity. trulicity is not insulin. it helps activate my body to do what it's supposed to do release its own insulin. trulicity responds when my blood sugar rises.
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is coming, only this time, they are autonomous-- able to operate on their own without humans controlling them from somewhere with a joystick. some autonomous machines are run by artificial intelligence which allows them to learn, getting better each time. it's early in the revolution and no one knows exactly where it is headed, but the potential exists for all missions considered too dangerous or complex for humans, to be turned over to autonomous machines that can make decisions faster and go in harm's way without any fear. think of it as the coming swarm, and if that sounds like the title of a sci-fi miniseries, well, stay tuned. as we're about to show you, it's already a military reality. this swarm over the california desert is like nothing the u.s. military has ever fielded before. each of those tiny drones is flying itself.
humans on the ground have given them a mission to patrol a three-square-mile area, but the drones are figuring out for themselves how to do it. they are operating autonomously, and the pentagon's dr. will roper says what you're seeing is a glimpse into the future of combat. >> dr. will roper: it opens up a completely different level of warfare, a completely different level of maneuver. >> launch team: on my count. >> martin: the drone is called perdix, an unlikely name for an unlikely engine of revolution. >> launch team: all vehicles up and away. good launch. >> martin: roper, head of a once-secret pentagon organization called the strategic capabilities office, remembers the first time he saw perdix, which is named after a bird found in greek mythology. >> dr. roper: i held it up in my hands. it's about as big as my hand. and i looked at it and said," really? this is... this is what you want me to... to get excited about?" you know, it looks like a toy. >> martin: perdix flies too fast and too high to follow, so "60
minutes" brought specialized high-speed cameras to the china lake weapons station in california to capture it in flight. >> launch team: very nice. >> martin: developed by 20- and 30-somethings from m.i.t.'s lincoln labs, perdix is designed to operate as a team, which you can see when you follow this group of eight on a computer screen. >> dr. roper: we've given them a mission at this point, and that mission is: as a team, go fly down the road. and so, they allocate that amongst all the individual perdix. >> martin: and they're talking to each other. >> dr. roper: they are. >> martin: by what? >> dr. roper: so, they've got radios on, and they're each telling each other not just what they're doing but where they are in space. >> martin: how frequently are they talking back and forth to each other? >> dr. roper: many, many times a second when they're first sorting out. >> martin: i mean, it looks helter skelter. >> dr. roper: you want them to converge to a good enough solution and go ahead and get on with it. it's faster than a human would sort it out. >> martin: cheap and expendable, perdix tries to make a soft landing... >> nice.
>> martin: ...but it's no great loss if it crashes into the ground. >> all units... >> martin: perdix can be used as decoys to confuse enemy air defenses or equipped with electronic transmitters to jam their radars. this one looks like it has a camera. as a swarm of miniature spy planes fitted with cell phone cameras, they could hunt down fleeing terrorists. >> dr. roper: there's several different roads they could have gone down, and you don't know which one to search. you can tell them, "go search all the roads," and tell them what to search for and let them sort out the best way to do it. >> martin: the pentagon is spending $3 billion a year on autonomous systems, many of them much more sophisticated than a swarm of perdix. this pair of air and ground robots runs on artificial intelligence. >> captain jim pineiro: i'm going to say "start the reconnaissance." >> martin: they are searching a mock village for a suspected terrorist, reporting back to marine captain jim pineiro and his tablet. >> captain pineiro: the ground robot's continuing on its mission while the air robot is searching on its own.
>> martin: the robots are slow and cumbersome, but they're just test beds for cutting-edge computer software which could power more agile machines, ones that could act as advance scouts for a foot patrol. >> captain pineiro: i would want to use a system like this to move maybe in front of me or in advance of me, to give me early warning of... of enemy in the area. >> martin: this time, i'm the target. the computer already knows what i look like, so now we'll see if it can match what's stored in its memory with the real thing as i move around this make- believe village. the robots' artificial intelligence had done its homework the night before, tim faltemier says, learning what i look like. >> tim faltemier: we were able to get every picture of every story that you've ever been in. >> martin: how many pictures of me are there out there? >> faltemier: when we ran this through, we have about 50,000 different pictures of you that we were able to get.
had we had more time, we probably could've done a better job. >> martin: so, because you've got 50,000 images of me, how certain would you be? >> faltemier: very. >> martin: now it's looking at me. >> faltemier: it recognized you instantly. so, what we reported today on our scores, we're about a one in 10,000 chance of being wrong. >> martin: while the robot was searching for me inside an auditorium at the marine corps base in quantico, virginia... >> lt. cdr. rollie wicks: this will give us a technological advantage. >> martin: ...lieutenant commander rollie wicks was watching from a missile boat in the potomac river. >> wicks: what i was doing was, i was turning over control of the weapon system to the autonomous systems that you've seen on the floor today. >> martin: had wicks given permission to shoot, the missile would have struck my location using a set of coordinates given to it by the robots. >> wicks: they were controlling a remote weapons system. they were controlling where that weapons system was pointing, with me supervising.
>> martin: it will be about three years before these robots will be ready for the battlefield. by then, captain pineiro says, they will look considerably different. will those robots... when they reach the battlefield, will they be able to defend themselves? >> pineiro: we are looking into that. we are looking into defensive capability for a robot, armed robots. >> martin: shoot back? >> pineiro: correct. >> martin: this pentagon directive states "autonomous systems shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force." what that means, says general paul selva, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the military's man in charge of autonomy, is that life or death decisions will be made only by humans, even though machines can do it faster and, in some cases, better. are machines better at facial recognition than humans? >> paul selva: all the research i've seen says, about five years ago, machines actually got better at image recognition than humans.
>> martin: can a disguise defeat machine recognition? >> selva: if you think about the proportions of the human body, there are several that are discrete and difficult to hide. the example that i will use, as i look at you, is the distance between your pupils. it is very likely unique to you and a handful of other humans. a disguise cannot move your eyes. >> martin: so, if i have a ski mask on, that doesn't help? >> selva: not if your eyes are visible. if you have to see, you can't change that proportion. >> martin: so, if the machine's better, why not let it make the decision? >> selva: this goes to the ethics of the question of whether or not you allow a machine to take a human life without the intervention of a human. >> martin: do you know where this is headed? >> selva: i don't. >> martin: virtually any military vehicle has the potential to become autonomous. the navy has begun testing "sea hunter," an autonomous ship to track submarines.
program manager scott littlefield says that when you no longer have to make room for a crew, you can afford to buy a lot of them. >> scott littlefield: you could buy somewhere between 50 and 100 of these for the price of one warship. >> martin: i've heard somebody describe this ship as looking like an overgrown polynesian war canoe. ( laughs ) why does it look like it does? >> littlefield: to be able to go across the pacific ocean without refueling, this hull form, the... the trimaran, was... was the best thing we could come up with. >> martin: what is its range? >> littlefield: we can go about 10,000 nautical miles on... on... on a tank of gas, 14,000 gallons. >> martin: "sea hunter" is at least two years away from being ready to steam across the pacific on its own. among other things, it has to learn how to follow the rules of the road to avoid collisions with other ships. when we went aboard, it had only been operating autonomously for a few weeks and there was still a human crew, just in case.
when testing is done, this pilot house will come off and the crew will be standing on the pier waving goodbye. from then on, this will be a ghost ship, commanded by 36 computers running 50 million lines of software code. and these life lines will have to come off, too, since there's no need for them with no humans on board. it has a top speed of 26 knots and a tight turning radius which should enable it to use its sonar to track diesel-powered submarines for weeks at a time. >> littlefield: many countries have diesel submarines. that's the most common kind of submarine that's out there. >> martin: china? >> littlefield: china has them. >> martin: russia? >> littlefield: russia has them. >> martin: iran? >> littlefield: iran has them. >> martin: north korea? >> littlefield: yes. >> martin: i think i get the picture. >> littlefield: yes. >> martin: but of everything we saw, tiny perdix is closest to being ready to go operational, if it passes its final exam. will roper and his team of desert rats are about to attempt to fly the largest autonomous swarm ever-- 100 perdix drones. >> dr. roper: this is one of the
riskiest, most exciting things that's going on right now in the pentagon. >> martin: risky not only because the swarm would be more than three times larger than anything roper's ever done before, but also because "60 minutes" is here to record the outcome for all to see. why are you letting us watch? >> dr. roper: couple of reasons, david. i... i... when this first came up, i have... i have to be honest with you, my first response was, "that sound... sounds like a horrible idea." right? i mean, it's just human nature. i... i don't want this to fail on camera. but i did not like the fear of failure being my only reason for not letting you be here. and we also wanted the world to see that we're doing some new things. >> martin: this time, the perdix will be launched from three f-18 jet fighters, just as they would on a real battlefield. >> dr. roper: there they are. >> martin: yep. >> dr. roper: all right. a little piece of... a little piece of the future.
>> pilot: five, four, three... >> martin: the f-18s are traveling at almost the speed of sound. >> pilot: mark release. >> martin: so, the first test for perdix is whether they will survive their violent ejection into the atmosphere. >> radio: complete. 104 alive. >> dr. roper: that's 104 in the swarm, david. >> martin: "104 alive." >> dr. roper: that's 100 swarm. ( laughs ) there they are. you see them? >> martin: yeah, yeah. >> dr. roper: look at them. look at them. they flash in the sun as the come into view. >> martin: there's a... oh, yeah. as the perdix descend in front of our cameras, they organize themselves into a tighter swarm. imagine the split-second calculations a human would have to make to keep them from crashing into each other. >> dr. roper: look at that! it's just everywhere you look, they're coming into view. it does feel like a plague of locusts.
so, they're running out of battery. >> martin: there are reams of data that still have to be analyzed, but roper is confident perdix passed its final exam... >> radio: one vehicle down. >> martin: ...and could become operational as early as this year. i've heard people say that autonomy is the biggest thing in military technology since nuclear weapons. really? >> dr. roper: i think i might agree with that, david. i mean, if what we mean by biggest thing is, something that's going to change everything, i think autonomy is going to change everything. >> what does this drone story have in common with a golf tournament? a cameraman who films flying objects. go to 60minutesovertime.com. sponsored by lyrica.
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>> whitaker: how many planets are there? nine is what we were taught. but as telescopes get stronger and astronomers learn more about our solar system, long-accepted facts become fallacies. pluto had been considered a planet for 76 years, but pluto lost its planet status after an astronomer at cal tech discovered that pluto wasn't so special after all. his name is mike brown. brown and other astronomers have since found hundreds of large balls of ice, like pluto, circling the sun at the far reaches of our solar system. demoting pluto leaves us with eight planets, but mike brown is preparing another surprise. he is sure there is a real ninth
planet way out far beyond pluto. he hasn't seen it yet, but he expects to soon. he believes the real planet nine is huge, and it's out there. >> mike brown: i would say at this point, i am certain. >> whitaker: certain? >> mike brown: yeah. that's a rare thing to say, for a prediction for a scientist, and i'm willing to say it. >> whitaker: you do know how mind-boggling this sounds? i mean, a new planet hasn't been discovered for 170 years. i believe you think it looks like this animation over my shoulder here? >> mike brown: you know, we took a little artistic license and put some lightning on the dark side of it, because it might have lightning on the dark side of it. we think that it's somewhere between ten and 20 times more massive than the earth. >> whitaker: and we haven't seen it? we can't see it? >> mike brown: it's so far away that it's actually just at the edge of what our biggest telescopes on the ground can... can possibly see, because it's
so far away. >> whitaker: 50 billion miles away. it's also hard to find because it has an enormous orbit. >> mike brown: planet nine, we think, takes something like 15,000 years to go around the sun. >> whitaker: wait a minute, 15,000 years to make one orbit? >> mike brown: one orbit. >> whitaker: to search for planet nine, brown goes up mauna kea, the big mountain on hawaii's big island, to use the big telescope, the subaru. brown doesn't look directly through the telescope; he monitors pictures it's taking of the same sections of sky on successive nights and then compares them, hunting for movement. >> mike brown: we have to very systematically look at every patch of sky here, here, here, here. and what we're looking for is... is actually kind of simple. we take a picture one night, we come back the next night. all the stars, all the galaxies are in the same spot night after night after night. and planet nine, when we see it, will slowly move across the sky.
>> whitaker: and will look something like this, brown's discovery 11 years ago that changed the way we think of the solar system. using pictures from successive nights, brown discovered this pluto-sized object, which led to the demotion of loveable pluto. you didn't love pluto growing up? >> mike brown: i loved pluto. i was totally fascinated by pluto. when i started in astronomy, i started looking at this region of the sky because i thought it was so interesting out there. >> whitaker: when pluto was first discovered, it was thought to be a big planet? >> mike brown: you can go back and find the "new york times" headline on the day that the discovery was announced. and it says, "ninth planet discovered in the outer solar system. possibly larger than jupiter." >> whitaker: jupiter's the biggest planet, but pluto, it turned out, was no jupiter. >> mike brown: these are all the planets and other objects at their real relative sizes. >> whitaker: this is jupiter. >> mike brown: jupiter is huge
compared to the other things. this is jupiter. this is saturn without it's rings. uranus. neptune. mercury. venus. earth. mars. and at the very edge of the solar system as we now think of it is pluto. it's only wrong by a factor of 50,000. >> whitaker: so, it went from being a monster planet to being a dwarf planet? >> mike brown: a dwarf planet. one of many that are out there, that are part of this region of the sky. >> whitaker: "this region" is the kuiper belt at the edge of our solar system, a vast realm of frozen debris created during the birth of the solar system four-and-a-half billion years ago. the kuiper belt keeps brown up all night, hunting for discoveries. >> mike brown: it's the most exciting thing i can think of doing. you know, it's not just that it's hard to stay up all night and so i force myself to do it; i am excited every night i go out there about what i might find. >> whitaker: when mike brown found that pluto-sized object, it was the biggest of a group of hundreds of pluto-like objects
recently discovered. so, brown wondered, should pluto really be a planet? but demoting pluto would mean that every textbook showing planets would have to be changed. that was fine with brown, who believes planets must be significant and that the eight large planets are. their strong gravitational fields control everything around them. >> mike brown: planets are the big bullies of the planetary system that are... that basically ignore everybody else around them. and everybody else has to deal with the planets. those are what the planets are. >> whitaker: and pluto didn't fit that concept. >> mike brown: neptune controls pluto's orbit. neptune is the bully of that neighborhood. >> whitaker: to resolve the issue, astronomers from all over the world gathered in prague in 2006. the international astronomical union would decide whether to demote little pluto or give planet status to hundreds of similar objects. >> 6a is concerned with pluto and pluto-like objects.
>> whitaker: astronomers voted overwhelmingly to go down to eight planets, and brown became known as the guy who killed pluto. >> mike brown: i think that's probably true. >> whitaker: the pluto vote was ill-timed for nasa. just seven months before pluto's demotion, nasa launched a mission to pluto, to learn about its surface and origins. scientists are still analyzing spectacular pictures from nasa's flyby. they show pluto's mostly icy surface and close-ups of craters. now, the spaceship is heading deeper into the kuiper belt. although pluto was demoted ten years ago, pluto-lovers still send brown hate mail and voicemail. he kept this one. >> hey, pluto's still a planet, you jackass. >> whitaker: even brown's 11- year-old daughter, lilah, didn't like what he'd done to pluto.
what did you tell him that he should do to make up for that? >> lilah brown: well, i told him that if he found a new planet, it might make up for the fact that he killed a planet that everybody loved. >> whitaker: seems that he actually went out and did that. >> lilah brown: yeah. >> whitaker: what do you think of that? >> lilah brown: it's really great. i... i'm very proud of him. ( laughs ) >> whitaker: she's referring to the huge planet nine we mentioned earlier. no one was more surprised by that discovery than brown himself. until recently, he believed our planets would only be the big eight. >> mike brown: we had explored so much of the solar system beyond those eight that if there were anything else like a planet, we would've found it. >> whitaker: after all, nasa's spaceships have flown past every known planet, capturing pictures of saturn's rings, the pock- marked surface of mercury, the gassy atmosphere of jupiter. and well beyond our solar system, the hubble telescope is busy taking pictures of distant galaxies.
nasa says this single image shows 10,000 galaxies. other pictures show signs of black holes millions of light years away. and this one, a glimpse of stars being born. no wonder brown had thought we'd found all our planets. so, now you think there's another pretty big planet out there? >> mike brown: yeah. i am pretty dead certain that it's out there. >> whitaker: what makes you think that? >> mike brown: as we were studying these objects out beyond neptune, pluto and the other objects in the kuiper belt, when you get to the most distant ones, they all look like they're being pulled off in one direction. >> whitaker: and you think the thing that's pulling them is a big planet? >> mike brown: yes. >> whitaker: couldn't there be some other explanation? >> mike brown: we tried many different explanations, trying to prove that it wasn't a planet. nothing... nothing works. >> konstantin batygin: i am 100% convinced. >> whitaker: brown's partner, konstantin batygin, a planetary science professor at cal tech,
came up with this mathematical proof-- proof, he says, that planet nine is pulling those remote objects in similar oblong orbits. it looks like mathematical gibberish to our untrained eye, but batygin told us his equation melds ten accepted formulas, and, when coupled with more than 8,000 lines of computer code, it describes planet nine's orbit. so, he says, he doesn't have to see it to know it exists. >> batygin: the mathematics proves it. and it's like being, you know, downtown and hearing an ambulance a few streets away. you haven't seen it, but your other senses provide you with the information that really this ambulance is really there. here, instead of hearing it, you see it in the math. >> whitaker: this is a roadmap to planet nine? >> batygin: exactly. this, in the end, tells you where to look on the sky.
>> whitaker: to speed up the search, batygin and brown published their roadmap so other astronomers could join the hunt. foremost among them is scott sheppard of the carnegie institution. it was sheppard who first spotted the odd orbits in the kuiper belt that led mike brown to conclude there's a huge planet out there. now, shepphard, like brown, compares the pictures taken on consecutive nights, hoping to spot planet nine. >> scott sheppard: we just found some more small objects, very far in the solar system, that continue the trend that there should be a planet nine out there. >> whitaker: is it important to you whether you are the first to find it or another astronomer finds it? >> sheppard: it'd be great to be the first one to find it. it is a race. there's a lot of people looking for it. but, just to have it found is... is what we want. >> whitaker: when do you think we might actually identify, spot planet nine? >> mike brown: i think that within three years, we will be able to cover that swath of sky that that we need to cover.
>> whitaker: is this giant planet nine the last planet we'll find in our solar system? or is there a planet ten? >> mike brown: is there a planet ten? yeah, we don't know. planet nine is already far enough away that it requires the biggest telescopes we have to find it. planet ten is even further. planet nine is our generation's planet. it's the perfect planet to find right now. planet ten, this is when i talk to kids, i tell them, "planet ten, it's yours. go... go find it." >> i'm adam zuker with this cbs sports update presented by the lincoln motor company. the a.f.c. wild card game was police department today, pittsburgh defeating miami 30-12, advancing to the divisional playoffs next week. so next saturday night on cbs, new england will host houston, a team they beat 27-0 in week three. pittsburgh will play at kansas
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(indistinct crowd conversations) councilman: good morning. today we celebrate the new los angeles. (applause and cheering) this generation, our generation. we held our phones in our hands and we thought, by using social media, we were making a difference. we became addicts, getting high off the followers. and we all know what jay said you can do with your hashtags and retweets. (laughing and applause) but you... you were the ones who put down your phones, got into the streets and met your neighbors, cleaned the beaches and the parks. you fed your brothers and sisters who did not have the means to feed themselves. you made l.a. more beautiful.