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The search for intelligent life outside the Solar System has been hit by low-tech Earthly thieves.

Participants helping to analyse data for signs of alien life as part of the SETI@Home project have been unable to access the project's servers after vandals cut its fibre optic cable.

According to a notice on the SETI@Home Web site, the fibre optic cable was cut by "vandals trying to 'salvage' copper from other nearby cables". The broken fibre carries data and voice connections between the University of California Berkeley campus and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its Space Sciences Lab, which houses SETI@Home's servers.

Contractors are putting in fresh cable and connectivity for the SETI@Home is expected to be restored tomorrow.

SETI@Home distributes radio telescope signals from space to members' PCs for mathematical analysis.

The loss of connectivity to SETI@Home on Tuesday happened on the same day that Nasa researchers provided more evidence that a Martian meteorite contained fossilised bacteria. So could it be that SETI@Home was getting close to announcing something even more stunning about life outside Earth? Did a shadowy cabal (or even privacy loving aliens) pull the plug on the distributed computing project?

Paranoid as I am, I think its infinitely more likely that earthly blaggers were behind the cut in communication (which would in any case make an interesting subject for a future episode of the X-Files). Over to you Mulder and Scully... ®

External links

Seti@Home
Life on Mars? (BBC report)

Related stories

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Privacy-loving space aliens put the smack down on SETI
Seti concept gets commercial
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