Ooooh, Bell Labs is full of smart guys. Smart enough to invent the laser. Smart enough to invent the transistor. Smart enough to win the Nobel Prize! Smart enough to...let a rat poison company beat them to the Web name

Yes, really. Try to get the latest information on fiber-optic networks and you'll be whisked to the home page of Madison (Wis.)-based Bell Laboratories Inc., a $30 million company that registered the domain name in 1995. Bell Labs parent AT&T (now Lucent Technologies), dithered, so the geniuses make do with "I'm sure they would like to have it, but we aren't going anywhere," says Linda Hughes, a spokeswoman for Bell Laboratories Inc. With Midwestern helpfulness, she offers, "We forward their e-mail to them."

Lucent says the situation hasn't caused them any problems. Dateline NBC, alas, can't say the same. During a hard-hitting 1997 investigative piece on UFOs, the show illustrated a book's claims that little green men really invented transistors by cutting to a shot of Bell Labs' home page--and got the wrong one. Seekers of laser-powered mouse zappers no doubt felt they were in the right place.

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