Arts

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Relaxing, Musée d’Orsay (© Owen Franken).

Curious about Owen Franken? View more of his work via the Franken Photo of the Week category, learn more in this profile, read a What Matters opinion column he wrote called “Life in Brownian Motion,” or visit his website.

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Woman in a Red Hat, Plaza San Marco, Venice (© Shelley Lake).

Shelley Lake SM ’79 is a photographer in Florida. View more of her work on her website. View other alumni photos of the week.

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MIT Chamber Music Society

Musicians rehearsing Haydn’s Quartett No. 41, Op. 76, No. 2 include Annie Kwon ’11, first violin; Eva Cheung ’11, second violin, Steve Lynch ’10, viola; Minhee Sung ’10, cello, and Marcus Thompson, coach. Photo: Richard West.

Guest blogger: Peter Dunn

Chamber music ensembles are the lean startups of the orchestral world—a handful of colleagues must cover a wide range of situations, without the reinforcement or management hierarchy of a symphony orchestra.

That model creates both transcendent music and teaching opportunities, and it is a primary factor in the enduring success of MIT’s Chamber Music Society, which this year marks its 40th anniversary under the direction of founder Marcus Thompson, the Robert R. Taylor Professor of Music.

“There’s more individual responsibility in a small group—you can’t hide behind other people playing the same part,” says Thompson, an internationally prominent chamber violist who also teaches at New England Conservatory and is artistic director of the Boston Chamber Music Society. “At the same time, four or five people have to work together, giving up something of themselves to the ensemble, just as you do in sports and other collaborative efforts.”

After passing auditions, the society’s 100 student members commit to challenging rehearsal schedules and weekly coaching to prepare for end-of-semester recitals by about 25 ensembles, which range from piano and violin trios and quartets to wind ensembles and small choral groups.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the society,” says pianist and first-year biological engineering student Connor Duffy. “Setting aside time each week to make music with two of my closest friends is a valuable and irreplaceable part of my life.”

Cellist Emily Mackevicius, a brain and cognitive science PhD student and society member since 2011, agrees. “Chamber music is a refreshing break from lab work, because it requires a totally different type of focus. It’s great to just pay attention to making music and fitting in with the other people in my group while incorporating advice from the coaches.”

Thompson notes that this spirit is prevalent on campus, with 400 students participating in official MIT ensembles like the Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and Concert Choir, and about 200 pursuing music majors, minors, or concentrations.

“People come here with all these facets, and MIT’s leadership has recognized for decades that we need be able to teach them through various avenues and challenge them as they move across disciplines,” he explains.

“We’ve gone from being a tech school to being a place that prepares people to take a leadership role in society. To do that, you have to understand the human condition, ambiguity, how peoples’ thoughts and feelings are shaped, communities that are different from your own. These are all part of the discipline of music, and chamber music has a great literature that lets that happen on a small scale.”

Enjoy past performances via the MIT Listening Room.

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Men launch a fishing boat in Senegal (© Owen Franken).

Men launch a fishing boat in Senegal (© Owen Franken).

Curious about Owen Franken? View more of his work via the Franken Photo of the Week category, learn more in this profile, read a What Matters opinion column he wrote called “Life in Brownian Motion,” or visit his website.

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Cypresses in Tuscany (© Owen Franken).

Cypresses in Tuscany (© Owen Franken).

Curious about Owen Franken? View more of his work via the Franken Photo of the Week category, learn more in this profile, read a What Matters opinion column he wrote called “Life in Brownian Motion,” or visit his website.

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Click image for updated tournament bracket.

The 1982 Harvard-Yale football game outlasted 31 MIT hacks over five rounds and, at long last, is crowned MIT Hack Madness Champion. View full results in the updated bracket.

In the tournament’s championship round, the Harvard-Yale game—three separate hacks that unfolded on national television—defeated the Caltech Cannon Heist, a 2006 prank that transported Caltech’s three-ton Fleming House cannon more than 2,500 miles undetected to MIT campus, by a score of 63-37 percent.

PrintIn total, the football game collected a tournament-high 5,045 votes and overwhelming defeated its opponents—including an early favorite, the Smoot—in each round. On Facebook, Scott Berkenblit ’86, SM ’90, PhD ’96 called the game “a hack for the ages.”

“It was sad to have to vote against Smoot (sorry, Ollie),” Bruce Bottomly ’65 wrote on Facebook. “But nothing can beat Harvard-Yale in terms of MIT creativity, complexity, skill, stealth, national attention, and establishment of infinite bragging rights against that place down the street in Cambridge.”

The more-recent Cannon Heist put a valiant effort throughout the tournament, including winning by a tournament-best margin of 86 percent in Round 2 and soundly defeating Tetris on Bldg. 54—the so-called “Holy Grail of Hacks”—in the penultimate round.

Overall, the two-week tournament generated nearly 29,000 votes on Slice of MIT and social media and hopefully generated a significant amount of Tech nostalgia and polite disagreements. Choosing 32 hacks from MIT’s 153-year history was difficult and subjective—some favorites were undoubtedly omitted—and Slice respects all viewpoints of what truly is the MIT community’s favorite hack.

Thanks to all of the voters, especially those who shared opinions on Alumni Association social media. Five of our favorite comments:

Click to see full voting results.

Click to see full voting results.

“Dirty little secret: this is what we *really* do at MIT.”
- Robert L Krawitz ’87

“I vote for Cow on Dome! My great-grandfather is milking the cow!”
- Sophia Edwards, great-granddaughter of William A Pitbladdo ’31

“My dad was there…a Harvard Grad. He fully had to acknowledge MIT was the winner, hands down!”
- Elise Rose ’86, on the Harvard-Yale Game

“I still don’t know how they did all that (and I read the narrative.) The Brass Rat put it over the top.”
- David Plass ’90, on the Caltech Cannon Heist

“I was there for the ‘snow in shower.’ I don’t remember whose idea it was to call the newspaper, but it was a cool idea and they fell for it hook, line, and sinker. And the story was picked up by wire services and ran around the world. Best part was the sub-head of the front page story in Boston…went something like: Cold Air + Steam => Snow!”
- Paul Epstein ’51

For more on the tournament, view the completed bracket and overall voting results. Re-live the tournament and read descriptions on all 32 hacks in the original tournament bracket. Congratulations, Harvard-Yale Game!

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Update: We have a winner! See who was named Hack Madness Champion.

Click image for updated tournament bracket.

Click image for updated tournament bracket.

After 10 days and nearly 28,000 votes, MIT Hack Madness has been narrowed to its final two hacks.

The 2006 Caltech cannon heist and the 1982 Harvard-Yale football game face off to decide the MIT community’s favorite hack. Voting is now closed. The champion will be declared on Friday, March 14 (Pi Day).

Arguably the tournament’s “top seeds,” the cannon heist and football game won each of their four matches by an average of 65 percent. View results for all 30 matches in the updated bracket then return to Slice of MIT to see who was named the Hack Madness champion.

Will it be the Harvard-Yale Game? The three-hacks-in-one-game escapade, which took four years to plan, included two different hacking groups and completely disrupted the nationally television football game. According to MIT Technology Review, CBS broadcaster Brent Musberger mistakenly announced that a bomb had floated down from the stands and exploded.

From “That Hack, 25 Years Later,” MIT Technology Review:

“This is the only hack that I have consistently been called about during my eight years at MIT,” says MIT Museum science and technology curator Deborah Douglas, whose curatorial responsibilities include hacks. “It is certainly in the top five hacks, and I rank it the greatest. It transcended ­categories and connects with the past better than almost any other hack.”

Will it be the Caltech Cannon Heist? More than 30 hackers—some posing as the fictional Howe & Ser Moving Co.—played a role in transporting Caltech’s three-ton cannon more than 2,500 miles from Pasadena to Cambridge. Upon arrival at MIT, hackers placed a custom 21-pound replica Brass Rat on the cannon’s barrel and designed a plaque to commemorate the prank.

From “Secrets to the Caltech Cannon Heist Revealed,” Slice of MIT:

With help from fake documents, uniforms, maps, and a doctored tow truck, they convinced the security guard that Howe & Ser were legitimate contractors. The security guard even provided directions and offered traffic cones.

“We left a bunch of details out of this story,” Mr. Ser says. “There’s a lot we’ll never reveal. But for the record, we did not rent a helicopter.”

View the interactive bracket for more details or read about the original field of 32. Check back to Slice on March 14 at noon to find out the MIT Hack Madness champion.

Harvard-Yale Game vs. Cannon Heist
In 1982, two groups of hackers inflated a weather balloon near the 50-yard line that spelled “MIT” before it burst, spelled “M-I-T” with their bodies at halftime, and tricked fans into holding “M-I-T” signs in the stands.

In 2006, students—posing as the Howe & Ser Moving Company—traveled cross-country to rival Caltech and transported the school’s three-ton cannon back to MIT. They also fashioned an over-sized Brass Rat for the cannon’s barrel.

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Click image for updated tournament bracket.

Update: We have a winner! See who was named Hack Madness Champion.

Welcome to Round 4 of Hack Madness,  the Alumni Association’s quest to determine the MIT community’s favorite hack. After three rounds and more than 25,000 total votes, the tournament has been narrowed down to the final four hacks.

Fourth-round voting is closed. View full third-round results in the updated tournament bracket then vote in the polls below or on the Alumni Association’s social media pages.

New to the tournament? Here’s what you missed in Round 3:

  • More strong showings from the the Harvard-Yale game and the Caltech cannon heist. The two hacks have overwhelmed their opponents by an average margin on 72 percentage points over the first three rounds.
  • A down-to-the-wire battle between two of the most well-known hacks, the Smoot and police car on the Great Dome. Smoot advanced to the final four by a scant two percentage points.
  • A fond farewell to the Hack Madness’ Cinderella story, the cow on the dorm. The 85-year-old prank—the likes of which we’ll probably never see again—was finally defeated by the more recent Tetris on Bldg. 54.

Can Smoot stop the down-field momentum of the Harvard-Yale game? Is a massive game of Tetris—the so-called “Holy Grail of Hacks”—enough to plug the cannon heist?

Visit the Hack Madness page for the full schedule, view the interactive tournament bracket for details on the final four hacks, or learn about the original field of all 32 hacks. Check back to Slice of MIT on Wednesday, March 12, at noon to see which hacks advanced to the championship.

Harvard-Yale Game vs. Smoot

In 1982, two groups of hackers inflated a weather balloon near the 50-yard line that spelled “MIT” before it burst, spelled “M-I-T” with their bodies at halftime, and tricked fans into holding “M-I-T” signs in the stands.

In 1958, Seven students calibrated the Harvard Bridge using a 5’7″ freshman named Smoot. The bridge’s length: about 364.4 Smoots, plus an ear. Today, Smoots are recognized in the dictionary and by Google.

Cannon Heist vs. Tetris

In 2006, students—posing as the Howe & Ser Moving Company—traveled cross-country to rival Caltech and transported the school’s three-ton cannon back to MIT. They also fashioned an over-sized Brass Rat for the cannon’s barrel.

At 2012′s Campus Preview Weekend, Bldg. 54 (the Green Building) was transformed into a giant game of Tetris. Players controlled the blocks from a console in front of the building and, upon defeat, the blocks crashed to the bottom.

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Taureg and his camel in Algeria (© Owen Franken).

Taureg and his camel in Algeria (© Owen Franken).

Curious about Owen Franken? View more of his work via the Franken Photo of the Week category, learn more in this profile, read a What Matters opinion column he wrote called “Life in Brownian Motion,” or visit his website.

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Click image for updated tournament bracket.

Update: We have a winner! See who was named Hack Madness Champion.

Welcome to Round 3 of Hack Madness–the once-crowded field of 32 has been narrowed to eight.

Third-round voting is closed. View previous round results in the updated tournament bracket then vote in the polls below or on the Alumni Association’s social media pages.

Are you new to Hack Madness? Read a primer of the tournament’s first two rounds below then visit the  Hack Madness official page for the full schedule and more information.

The tournament: Hack Madness, a two-week contest that invites the MIT community to vote for their favorite hack. The tournament began on Monday, March 3, and more than 16,000 votes have already been cast. See the original field of 32.

The early favorites: The 2006 Caltech Cannon heist, which has received more than 90 percent of the vote in each of the first two rounds, and the 1982 Harvard-Yale football game, which has received the highest total number of votes (more than 1,400).

The Cinderella stories: The tournament’s oldest entry, the 1928 hack that put a cow on the East Campus dorm, advanced to the final eight. On the other side of the bracket, 1968′s snow shower hack—which fooled the Boston Herald into a front-page story—has quietly overwhelmed difficult competition in the first two rounds.

Round 3’s toughest matchup: Two of the most well-known hacks, Smoots and the campus police car on the Great Dome, face off to advance to the round of 4. Plus, can the old-school cow hack continue its run against the “Holy Grail of Hacks”—2012’s Tetris on Bldg. 54?

View the interactive tournament bracket for details one each hack. Check back to Slice of MIT on Monday, March 10, at noon to see which hacks advanced to the round of four.

Vote by region:

Edwin Phortey Region

Harvard-Yale Game vs. Snow Shower

In 1982, two groups of hackers inflated a weather balloon near the 50-yard line that spelled “MIT” before it burst, spelled “M-I-T” with their bodies at halftime, and tricked fans into holding “M-I-T” signs in the stands.

In 1968, students faked a blizzard by filling shower stalls with snow, opening windows, and turning on the shower. They told the Boston Herald that they invented snow-making shower nozzles. The paper ran the story on their front page.

James E. Tetazoo Region

Smoot vs. Campus Police Car

In 1958, Seven students calibrated the Harvard Bridge using a 5’7″ freshman named Smoot. The bridge’s length: about 364.4 Smoots, give or take an ear. Today, Smoots are recognized in the dictionary and by Google.

An MIT police cruiser appeared on the top of the Great Dome in 1994. The car was equipped with flashing lights, a dummy police officer, donuts, a parking ticket, and plate number “IHTFP.” The hack received national and global television coverage.

Jack Florey Region

Cannon Heist vs. Lunar Module

In 2006, students—posing as the Howe & Ser Moving Company—traveled cross-country to rival Caltech and transported the school’s three-ton cannon back to MIT. They also fashioned an over-sized Brass Rat for the cannon’s barrel.

In 2012, hackers commemorated the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk by placing a half-scale Apollo Lunar Module and an American flag on the Great Dome.

Institute Historian T.F. Peterson Region

Tetris vs. Cow on Dorm

In 2012, Bldg. 54 was transformed into a giant game of Tetris. Players controlled the blocks from a console in front of the building and, upon defeat, the blocks crashed to the bottom.

In 1928, students transported a live cow to the roof of the six-story Class of 1893 Dormitory (now East Campus dorm). The Boston Herald reported that the cow went up to the roof easily but a “small army” was needed to bring her down.

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