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Hoax Targets U of I

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IOWA CITY - Some great minds of our time can call the University of Iowa their Alma Mater. And now, so can one of the most realistic pranks circulating through cyberspace.

The incredible "Fantastic Machine" is said to have been built right here at the University of Iowa with parts from farm equipment. Its next stop is the Smithsonian Museum. But how much of that is true?

"Not a thing," says Charles Drum with the university. "Not a thing."

The machine is supposedly a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering but if you search the campus high and low you'll never find either of those buildings. They don't exist.

But that's not stopping the true believers, the same people who are bombarding university officials with e-mails.

Drum adds, "(They're) from people who want to buy the CD of the music produced on it but some beg us not to give it to the Smithsonian because they want to come to Iowa City to see the machine."

But the only place to see it is online and even an untrained eye can tell this is fake.

Drum adds, "If you look at it some of the balls disappear. They don't bounce back they simply vanish."

And it could take longer for this clip itself to follow suit.

"It'll be circulating for years and I expect I'll be answering e-mails for years," says Drum.

Most of the people we spoke with Monday say this whole thing is just a harmless prank. But some people at the College of Engineering aren't laughing. In fact, they're trying to get it taken off the Web, saying it's so far-fetched it's ridiculous.

*Video courtesy Animusic.

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