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Australia sending messages to deep space

CANBERRA, Australia, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- An Australian magazine is giving people a chance to send a message to far-distant planets, assuming anyone is out there to listen.


The messages would be sent to Gliese 581d, a water-covered world eight times the size of Earth, COSMOS Magazine said. The planet, 20 light years from Earth, is the closest Earth-type planet discovered so far.

"It's like a 'message in a bottle' cast out into the stars," said Wilson da Silva, editor of COSMOS. "What's interesting is not just whether there's anyone listening, but what the public will say to intelligent life on another planet, given the opportunity."

The project is part of Australia's National Science Week, with those interested in speaking to the galaxy asked to log on to before 5 p.m., Aug. 24, Sydney time. Messages are limited to 160 characters.


The messages will be beamed Aug. 28 to Gliese 581d from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, in Tidbinbilla.

No replies are likely before 2051, unless the residents, if any, of Gliese 581d have discovered a faster means of interstellar communication.

Crop circles return to Wash. town

WILBUR, Wash., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Residents of a small Washington town say mysterious crop circles have appeared in wheat fields for the second time in three years.

Locals in Wilbur, a town of 960 people 65 miles west of Spokane, Wash., said the talk of the town has been the latest crop designs, discovered in late July on the Haden family's wheat farm, The Seattle Times reported.

"This is the one where they put the spaceship landing pad down," Keith Haden joked while pointing out a portion of the design, which encompasses five rings of varying sizes and one complete circle.

Haden and most other locals expressed skepticism about any real extraterrestrial involvement in the design, but a previous crop circle discovered in the town in June 2007 brought loads of tourists and research groups to the area. The Wilbur Chamber of Commerce passed a tongue-in-cheek resolution last year giving "thanks to the Aliens who made Wilbur their Vacation Destination!"


Man finds bullet lodged in couch pillow

PAWTUCKET, R.I., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- An errant bullet hit a couch pillow in a man's apartment in Pawtucket, R.I., a short time after he had been sleeping on the sofa, police say.

Detective Donti Rosciti said Victor Omar Frometa, 30, had been sleeping on the couch early Wednesday, but relocated to his bedroom before a bullet came through a window of the second-floor apartment and struck the couch and pillow, the Providence (R.I.) Journal reported.

The bullet appeared to have been fired from a block away.

Rosciti said it appeared the shooting originated at a location parallel to, but elevated above, the apartment. Frometa and his family likely were not intended targets, the officer said.

The shooting occurred while Frometa was home with his wife, 2-year-old child and mother.

FBI: Robber showed ID to teller

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Authorities in Alaska said a bank robber showed his ID and gave his name and bank account number to a teller before the crime.

The FBI said Jarell Paul Arnold, 34, walked into the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union in Anchorage about 1:05 p.m. Aug. 7, and made an inquiry about the balance of his account, showing his ID and giving his name and account number. Then he gave the teller a note demanding money and saying he had a gun concealed, the Anchorage Daily News reported.


FBI agents -- familiar with Arnold from a 2004 bank robbery charge, for which he was sentenced to 57 months in prison -- confirmed his identity using bank-surveillance footage. He allegedly confessed to the crime at the time of his arrest Monday.

Agents said Arnold, who was taken to the Anchorage Jail, admitted to robbing the bank but said he did not have a gun at the time.

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