IBM search tool targets flying saucers, ghosts, goblins

Sarch engine tuned to search for information about the paranormal, bizarre

IBM wants to help you find out if UFOs are real. Well, sort of. With UFO sightings seemingly on the rise, Big Blue is teaming with The Anomalies Network to offer UFO Crawler, a new search engine specifically tuned to search for information about the paranormal, unexplained or just plain bizarre.

The search tool employs IBM's OmniFind Yahoo! Edition enterprise search software. UFO Crawler should help users precisely target and gather information from relevant sources including the thousands of documents and files collected in the vast Anomalies Network archive, as well as multiple global resources across the Web on such topics as ghosts, conspiracy theories and extraterrestrials, the companies said in a statement. Previously, using a conventional Web search engine, a search on a term such as "Area 51", for example, would return thousands of irrelevant and inaccurate results, the companies said.

The companies hope to tap a growing national interest in UFOs and all things odd. Indeed UFO sighting do seem to be on the rise. For example:

* In February at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, pilots, managers and mechanics at the United Airlines terminal saw an odd, disc-shaped object hovering silently overhead, just below the dense cloud layer.

* This week in the United Kingdom, people reported an odd object floating across the moon.

* Also in February, calls poured in to police and TV stations after many residents of the metropolitan Phoenix area observed a line of four bright lights near the horizon.

The 10-year old Anomalies Network touts itself as the world's largest alternative information source. In addition to launching UFO Crawler today, it also is introducing numerous site enhancements for better collaboration among users. Those enhancements include new content and features to help more users contribute and collaborate, and share information based on their interests. According to a press release, the site will feature a new, user-driven search and RSS subscriptions, as well as account access that will let users customize and view only information of interest to them.

The site also is undergoing major performance improvements including the deployment of the NetliOne Platform for global site caching powered by Netli, as well as further improvements at the network's data center hosted by Silicon Valley Web Hosting.

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