Lee was: the Incarnation  ! 
Answered on: 18 Apr 2005

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Great and all knowing Oracle! Only you can compute a fast
> fourier transform while writing your grocery list and not forget
> the toothpaste. Please tell me who these Gaussians are and why
> we're looking for them. Are they hostile? Are they a more
> advanced civilization then we are? Will Disney make a lame ass
> animated move featuring Gaussians and random bits of singing
> furniture?
And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Ah, the Gaussians.  The Gaussians are indeed a more advanced
} civilization than that of humanity's on Earth, at least from a
} culinary perspective.  They are, in fact, the most sought after chefs
} in the galaxy.
} So, you'd assume Earth scientists are looking for a really good cheese
} omelette or steak, right?  Far from it.  It turns out most SETI
} projects are funded by a secret cartel of leading fast food chains
} known as Her Majesty's Big Red Shoes.  (As you can tell, the name
} comes from the three biggest hamburger chains, who are the largest
} contributors to the cartel.)
} You might wonder just why the fast food industry is so worried.
} Surely Gaussians' meals are infinitely better than the fat-laden,
} hormone-injected, chopped meat served between two pieces of bread
} made of grain stripped of all nutritional value those places serve,
} right?  And they must cost proportionally more as well?  Unfortunately
} for Her Majesty's Big Red Shoes, the answers are, respectively, yes
} and no.
} You see, supplicant, the old Earth business adage of "cheap, good,
} fast; pick two" does not apply to the Gaussians.  They have, through
} the millennia of refining their cooking techniques, managed to achieve
} all three, the antithesis of Earth's fast food industry, who rarely
} manage to achieve one of the three!  Now you see why Her Majesty's Big
} Red Shoes is so hot to find them.  They plan to steal or buy the
} Gaussians' secrets if at all possible.  (And if they'd just ask me,
} I'd tell them it's not.  At least not for them, poor, cosmically
} unremarkable beings that they are.)  Failing that, they will launch
} their fleet of restaurants they've been building in secret for the
} last few decades to destroy them.  (Again, they're not likely to
} succeed.)
} Yes, I said "fleet of restaurants."  How else do you think you build a
} fleet of spaceships without anyone noticing?  Why do you think you
} see fast food restaurants everywhere you look?  Each restaurant is
} actually a sophisticated starship built using the secrets taken from
} Area 51.  (How Her Majesty's Big Red Shoes got ahold of those is a
} whole other story and the Oracle's time as this incarnation is rapidly
} running out.)  I admit, they've done an incredible job of camouflage
} on them.  Of course, just the horrible state of the bathrooms is
} enough to throw most people off the trail.  Anyway, now that *you*
} finally know the secret about the search for the Gaussians,
} supplicant, I'm sure the world will begin to make a bit more sense to
} you.
} You owe the Oracle the Gaussians' secret sauce recipe.

Notes: This was probably the second time I felt I had something worthy of being digested. (The first was "How Many People Are in Heaven and Hell", which did get digested.) Alas, it was not to be this time.

Having given up on the SETI@home project (that's "Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence at Home") a while back for a variety of reasons I won't go into here, it took me a couple readings to realize what the question was about. If you run the SETI@home screensaver, it's searching for "gaussian" radio signals. (You can find out exactly what that means on this "How SETI@home Works" page, if you want.) So the joke in the question is the Supplicant has assumed they're searching for an alien race called the Gaussians. I ran with it.

I must make a small apology to the late Douglas Adams for borrowing, in a very small way, an idea from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the first radio episode and book, he mentions a race called the Dentrassi, who are described as the best cooks in the Galaxy. That is quite likely what provided, perhaps subconsciously at first, the germ of the idea for this answer. If you're familiar with the Hitchhiker's Guide in one of its many incarnations, however, you'll know that beyond that minor similarity, nothing here bears much resemblance to Adams' ideas.

"Her Majesty's Big Red Shoes" was supposed to be a combination of Wendy's (Hers), Burger King (Majesty), and McDonald's (Big Red Shoes). The last phrase I believe I've actually seen officially used by McDonald's for something, but I don't recall any more. I was hoping it would be obvious enough to the Supplicant (and Priests) to allude to it without spelling it out. However, since you, the web surfer reading this page, can e-mail and ask whereas they couldn't, I thought I'd head off that question now.