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Privacy-loving space aliens put the smack down on SETI

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A SETI radio telescope has been destroyed and scientists fear that space aliens may be responsible, the Weekly World News reports. A "pulsating blue beam" streaked out of the sky and slammed into the 250-foot Rand Wilson telescope near Johannesburg, South Africa, lighting up the facility and a quarter-mile area surrounding it, witnesses reported to the paper. At daybreak, stunned researchers found that the multimillion-dollar telescope had been reduced to a tangle of twisted metal. "It looked as if it had taken a direct hit from a category five hurricane, but the weather that night was completely tranquil," chief astronomer Dr Nigel Van Hecht said in a phone interview with the WWN. "We are entirely at a loss as to what could have caused this. The damage is certainly not consistent with any known natural phenomenon, such as lightning," the professor is quoted as saying. "We have concluded that it is the result of sabotage, and because of the uncanny nature of the weapon, we are strongly leaning toward the theory that the attackers were non-terrestrial." The South African radio telescope was a key element in the international scientific endeavour known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. Although radio waves occur naturally, SETI searches for characteristic radio patterns which could only be broadcast by alien civilizations. But Dr Van Hecht and his colleagues now fear that offended space aliens are about to retaliate in a big way. "It's conceivable that the aliens don't like us eavesdropping on them - and that this was their crystal-clear way of telling us to cut it out," the astronomer said. "Certainly they may have secrets they don't want us listening in on," he added. Naturally, The Register is most concerned with the implications of this diabolical development for PC owners who have volunteered their boxes for the SETI@home project. We shudder to think what mayhem an irritated and superior alien race might visit upon innocent, gui-dependent Windows lusers jacked in to an intrusive Web-based spy network. "The damage [to the telescope] is irreparable," Dr Van Hecht said in conclusion. "This is a real tragedy for science." And for SETI@home's future, we fear. ®

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