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Chinese scientists troubled by pranksters

Chinese scientists are harassed by pranksters who want answers on issues - using a "nuclear-powered cooker" to what they should do having been approached by terrorists to buy nuclear reactors.

world Updated: Jan 28, 2008 15:51 IST

Chinese scientists are harassed a lot, bombarded with questions from pranksters who want answers from them on issues ranging from using a "nuclear-powered cooker" to what they should do having been approached by terrorists to buy nuclear reactors.

"After years of private research, I have finally succeeded in producing nuclear reactors for household use. Where can I apply for patent," asked one prankster on the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) website.

"By the way, I have been contacted several times by terrorists wanting to buy the reactors. What should I do," the questioner wanted to know further.

And, the ministry's reply was that the question was out of its field of knowledge, and suggested the questioner to refer it to officials at the China Patent Information Centre.

The questions are ridiculous but the scientists respond with a "strait face and serious answers", Xinhua news agency reported quoting the Beijing Youth Daily.

Another asked whether a "nuclear-powered cooker" could be used to make soy sauce pork, a popular dish. The funny side seems unending with queries about stock market predictions and even psychological problems.

The pranksters would not leave it at getting replies. Once answered, they copy the questions and replies and subject it to public ridicule in major on-line forums, the report said.

At least 200 prank questions had been raised, with 30 posted on January 23 but all of them along with answers have since been deleted from the MOST website.

"Although a lot of questions had nothing to do with the work of the science ministry, we have answered them all as best as we could. These joke questions have been most disruptive to our job, and we hope such behaviour will end soon," a ministry statement posted on the website's homepage said.

"People criticise the government when it ignores them, and then laugh at it when it takes everything seriously. It does not make sense," said an internet user who could not fathom why pranksters do all this while he sympathised with scientists.