Hacks

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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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Eagerly anticipating—or perhaps just patiently waiting for—the Pi Day announcement of the MIT Hack Madness champion? The winner of the final-round match between the 1982 Harvard-Yale game and the 2006 Caltech cannon heist will be announced at noon at Friday, March 14 (Pi Day, of course).

In the interim, check out Slice of MIT’s collection of hack-related stories, dating back to 2009, some of which were included in the tournament and many that were left out. Read about these pranks then head to the Hack Madness Championship to learn who was named the MIT community’s favorite hack.

Pac-Man, Hacked.

2013

2012

  • Even a Dome under Construction Can Be Hacked” (November 14, 2012). The Great Dome was lit blue and green in honor of Amphibious Achievement’s annual Erg-A-Thon.
  • Holy Hack, Batman!” (July 23, 2012). Mystery assailants–channeling their inner Commissioner Gordon–illuminated the Bat-Signal on the Green Building (Bldg. 54).
  • Heads Up! The Baker House Piano Drop” (April 27, 2012). About 200 spectators watched a piano tossed from the roof of the Baker House onto another piano six stories below.
  • Hacked! Tetris on the Green Building” (April 23, 2012). One side of the Cecil and Ida Green Building (Building 54) was transformed into a giant video game canvas.

Infinite Corridor Attacked!

2011

2010

2009

View results for all 31 Hack Madness matches in the updated tournament bracket then visit Slice or social media to learn who was named the Hack Madness champion.

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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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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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Click image for updated tournament bracket.

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

Welcome to the second round of Hack Madness: The MIT Tournament of Hacks. Voting is open and ends on Thursday, March 6, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

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

A few things we learned in Round 1:

  • A cow on a roof is more impressive than a car on a roof. And Tetris on a 21-story building is more remarkable than a VU meter.
  • The closest votes? Dipsy Duck vs. Primrose Path, which was separated by only two votes, and Harvard Kidnappings vs. Claiming Harvard, which was separated by four.
  • The widest margins: Smoots, the Harvard-Yale Game, and the Cannon Heist. Each hack took around 90 percent.
  • Age is just a number. Hacks from the ’20s, ’40s, and ’50s advanced.
  • More than 12,000 first-round votes were cast on Slice of MIT and social media.

Vote by region:

Visit the Hack Madness page for the full schedule. Check back to Slice of MIT on Friday, March 7, at noon to see which hacks advanced to the round of eight.

Edwin Phortey Region

Harvard-Yale Game vs. Great Droid

In 1982, 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.

Two days before the 1999 release of Star Wars, the Great Dome was transformed into R2-D2. Hackers also provided disassembly instructions addressed to “Imperial Drones” and signed “Rebel Scum.”

Cathedral of Our Lady of the All-Night Tool vs. Snow Shower

In 1992, Lobby 7 was reimagined as a “tool”-dedicated cathedral, filled with stained-glass, pews, an altar, an organ, a confessional, and holy relics. Two MIT alumni were married in a Wiccan wedding ceremony.

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. Nerd Xing

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

The gold standard of MIT sign hacks. Posted above a crosswalk at 77 Massachusetts Ave., a non-descript sign with a silhouette was turned into an MIT student equipped with a back pack, a lab kit, and floppy disk. (Hey, it was 1987.)

Campus Police Car vs. Vest’s Office

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.

In 1990, on Charles Vest’s first day as MIT president, his office was hidden by a bulletin board carefully placed in front of the president’s office door. His staff thought they were on the wrong floor.

Jack Florey Region

Cannon Heist vs. Dipsy Duck

In 2006, students—posing as the 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 the 1948, students unveiled the Dipsy Duck, a 12′ supposed generator that could be placed near rivers to produce exactly 3.14159 (π) volts. They also claimed it could be powered by beer.

Portable Toilet vs. Lunar Module

In 1960, the John Harvard statue purportedly doubled as a public restroom. A toilet stall door was positioned at the statue’s base with an advertisement reading “Johnny-on-the-Spot, Portable Toilets, Rented/Serviced.”

In spring 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. Kidnapped Guests

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 the 1940s, Harvard guests were the subject of periodic “kidnappings.” Actor Eddie Anderson was intercepted and brought to an MIT fraternity party. Burlesque queen Sally Rand was taken to an MIT reception and named “Associate Professor of Entertainment Engineering.”

Lobby 7 Inscription vs. Cow on Dorm

In 1994, the etched-in-stone inscription in Lobby 7 replaced the words “Agriculture and Commerce” with “Entertainment and Hacking.” Hackers used Styrofoam that was painted to resemble stone and held in place by spring-loaded devices.

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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hack_madness_select_2.7.14

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

Welcome to the opening round of Hack Madness: The MIT Tournament of Hacks—the Alumni Association’s quest to determine the MIT community’s favorite hack. Round 1 voting is open and ends on Tuesday, March 4, at 11:59 p.m. EST.  Vote in the polls below or the Alumni Association’s social media channels.

Vote by region:

View the full interactive bracket and visit the Hack Madness page for tournament details. Check back to Slice of MIT on Monday, March 10, at noon to see the third-round winners and vote on the next round.

Edwin Phortey Region

Harvard-Yale Game vs. Scrabble

In 1982, 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 1986, the tiles of the Weisner Building (E15) transformed into a Scrabble board. In 2007, E15 was Scrabbled as part of a larger hack that placed board games at different locations.

The Great Dome vs. The Big Screw

Two days before the 1999 release of Star Wars, the Great Dome was transformed into R2-D2. Hackers also provided disassembly instructions addressed to “Imperial Drones” and signed “Rebel Scum.”

The multiple screw-on-dome hacks pay homage to the Institute Screw Contest, a charity fundraiser that honors faculty and staff voted most successful at “screwing”  students.

Circus vs. Cathedral of Our Lady of the All-Night Tool

Lobby 7 was transformed into a big top in 2012, complete with a model ring master, trapeze artist, high-wire artist, acrobats, contortionists, and a stunt man set to be shot from a cannon.

20 years earlier, Lobby 7 was reimagined as a “tool”-dedicated cathedral, filled with stained-glass, pews, an altar, an organ, a confessional, and holy relics. Two MIT alumni were married in a Wiccan wedding ceremony.

Snow Shower vs. Disney Buys MIT

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.

In 1998, the hacked MIT homepage claimed Disney had bought MIT for $6.8 billion and linked to a press release that announced President Vest would become Disney’s V.P. for Nerd Education.

James E. Tetazoo Region

Smoot vs. Bruno

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

Created in 1972, a Bruno is a unit of volume equal to the size of the dent in the ground resulting from a six-story drop of a piano. A Bruno’s sound only occurs when a piano is thrown from Baker House.

Nerd Xing vs. VOMIT

The gold standard of MIT sign hacks. Posted above a crosswalk at 77 Massachusetts Ave., a non-descript sign with a silhouette was turned into an MIT student equipped with a back pack, a lab kit, and floppy disk. (Hey, it was 1987.)

in 2006, hackers added two additional letters to the five-foot stainless steel MIT sign in front of the Stata Center: V and O, thought to be commentary on the building’s unique design.

Solar-Powered Subway Car vs. Campus Police Car

In 2009, hackers installed an MBTA-looking vehicle on the Great Dome and used solar power to navigate it around the dome’s perimeter. The train’s next stop was listed as “Baker House.”

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.”

Vest’s Office vs. Hockfield’s Note

In 1990, on Charles Vest’s first day as MIT president, his office was hidden by a bulletin board carefully placed in front of the president’s office door. His staff thought they were on the wrong floor.

On the morning of President Susan Hockfield’s inauguration in 2005, the non-descript wall of MIT’s Treasurer’s Office was transformed into an oversized $1 bill that featured the new president’s face.

Jack Florey Region

Caltech Cannon vs. Athena

In 2006, students 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.

Athena is a Greek goddess and the name of the Institute’s long-time operating environment. During final exams in 2009, a massive Athena statue was placed in the center of MIT’s Killian Court, complete with a Mens et Manus-inscribed shield.

Dipsy Duck vs. Primrose Path

In the 1948, students unveiled the Dipsy Duck, a 12′ supposed generator that could be placed near rivers to produce exactly 3.14159 (π) volts. They also claimed it could be powered by beer.

In the mid-1980s, the 122′ path across Kresge Oval—the “Nerd Path”—was covered with an array of colorful primroses. In a nod to the path’s role as a shortcut, each end of the path was planted with impatiens.

Portable Toilet vs. Halo 3

In 1960, the John Harvard statue purportedly doubled as a public restroom. A toilet stall door was positioned at the statue’s base with an advertisement reading “Johnny-on-the-Spot, Portable Toilets, Rented/Serviced.”

Hackers honored the release of the 2007 video game Halo 3 by decorating John Harvard as video game character John-117 “Master Chief.” The statue was equipped with John-117’s helmet and assault rifle and a beaver emblem on his right shoulder.

Lunar Module vs. Wright Flyer

On the same day that Athena appeared in Killian Court, 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.

Honoring another aerial anniversary, hackers honored the centennial anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first controlled flight by placing a replica Wright Flyer—equipped with a dummy pilot—on the top of the dome in 2003.

Institute Historian T.F. Peterson Region

Tetris vs. VU Meter

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.

On July 4, 1993, Bldg. 54 was converted into an enormous VU meter synced to the sounds of the Boston Pops’ Independence Day concert. The meter included had nine 6′ x 4′ red lights and had an output of more than 5,000 watts.

Kidnapped Guests vs. Claiming Harvard

In the 1940s, Harvard guests were the subject of periodic “kidnappings.” Actor Eddie Anderson was intercepted and brought to an MIT fraternity party. Burlesque queen Sally Rand was taken to an MIT reception and named “Associate Professor of Entertainment Engineering.”

In 1982, MIT students staged a faux takeover of Harvard, including a student resolution granting Harvard colonial status, a “Free Harvard” banner, and a mock abduction of MIT’s undergrad president.

Lobby 7 Inscription vs. Ender’s Game

In 1994, the etched-in-stone inscription in Lobby 7 replaced the words “Agriculture and Commerce” with “Entertainment and Hacking.” Hackers used Styrofoam that was painted to resemble stone and held in place by spring-loaded devices.

When the Ender’s Game movie was released in November 2013, hackers staged a pivotal scene in the movie—a training exercise in the Battle Room. Hackers also draped the logos of three Ender’s Game armies down Bldg. 10.

Cow on Dorm vs. Car on Dorm

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.

In 1936, students used a block and tackle left behind by painters to pull an automobile to the roof of the Class of 1893 dorm. The car had the infamous phrase “Tech 2 Hell” on its roof.

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

FINAL-screenshot-450

“Hacking is the students reminding the administration that they are smarter than them.”
- Former MIT administrator Ben Jones

hack_madness_select_2.7.14

According to the seminal anthology Nightwork, an MIT hack is ingenious, benign, and ephemeral mischief pulled off under a cloud of secrecy or misdirection.

Some hacks—like ones that interrupt a football game or misplace a police car—receive national attention. Others, like a nerd cathedral or a building-size video game, are purely for the enjoyment of the MIT community.

To honor this tradition, coupled with the tournament-mad month of March, the MIT Alumni Association announces Hack Madness: The MIT Tournament of Hacks, a two-week contest that invites the MIT community to vote for their favorite hack. View the full interactive bracket. Tournament voting is now closed.

The five-round tournament began on Monday, March 3. Votes can be cast on Slice of MIT and the Alumni Association’s social media pages. Jump to the official tournament page for the schedule and voting details.

Choosing the hacks was difficult and subjective—some favorites will be left out. The 32 selected hacks cover nine decades of pranks at more than 20 MIT locations plus, of course, off-campus classics at Harvard and Caltech.

But there are hacks for all kinds, like a cross-country cannon heist, a new unit of measurement, and a cow on a roof. Vote to help your favorite hack advance.

The bracket was compiled based on input from the elusive Institute of Hacking Theatrics and Fugacious Pranks (IHTFP) with invaluable research culled from Nightwork, the MIT Museum’s Institute for Hacks, Tomfoolery, and Pranks, and the online MIT IHTFP Hack Gallery. The tournament would not be possible without those resources.

In a nod to history, each region of the tourney honors infamous hacking legends: Jack Florey, James Tetazoo, Edwin Phortey, and Institute Historian T.F. Peterson.

Check back with Slice of MIT and the Alumni Association’s social media outlets each day to vote. Visit the Hack Madness official page for the tournament schedule and more information.

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Credit: Hairuo G. '17

Credit: Hairuo G. ’17

Based on the antics of recent years, early November could be considered prime hacking season.

This year is no different, as rogue fans of the legendary science fiction book series Ender’s Game hacked Lobby 7 sometime over the weekend. The hack may have been celebrating the series’ long-awaited movie adaptation and depicted a hectic scene, with what appeared to be the International Fleet defending Earth from the alien Formics*.

Update: Thanks to alumni readers Eric G., Daniel L., and Michelle M., we now knows that the hack did not depict a battle between the International Fleet and the Formics, but a training exercise in the anti-gravity Battle Room.

Student bloggers from MIT Admissions were the first to document the hack, which also included draping the logos of three battle school armies in the Ender’s Game universe—Griffin, Dragon, and Tiger—down Bldg. 10. The battle scene took place near the center of Lobby 7, in an area currently roped off for construction purposes related to the building’s refurbished skylight.

Credit:

Credit: Hairuo G. ’17

The Ender’s Game movie premiered in the U.S. on Friday, Nov. 1, and earned nearly $28 million in its opening weekend. The book series, which began in 1977, consists of 13 novels, 13 short stories, and 47 comic issues.

Credit: Bruce Mendelsohn

Credit: Bruce Mendelsohn

As with many things science fiction, the books and film have MIT connections. Author and blogger Wax Banks (a.k.a. Walter Holland ’01) has called Ender’s Gamea kind of shared keystone text” for MIT students and the film’s visual effects supervisor is Matthew Butler SM ’93. NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff PhD ’92 served as a technical adviser for the film.

Credit: Hairuo G. '17

Credit: Hairuo G. ’17

Read more from Rachel D. ’16 and view more photos from Hairuo G. ’17 at the MIT Admissions blog. Special thanks to the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program’s Bruce Mendelsohn (@gordonmitelp) for the photo. For more hacks, check out Slice’s archive of hack-related posts.

*Admittedly, Slice staff has not yet read the series or seen the movie. We apologize to our readers and the International Fleet (but not the Formics) if our battle description is incorrect!

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The Piano Technicians Guild attributes the beautiful sound of a piano to “the remarkable blending of such materials as wood, metal, buckskin, and wool. Together they create a uniquely timeless sound that no other instrument in the world can duplicate.”

IMG_3361

Preparations. Photo: Kate Hoagland.

The residents of Baker Hall hear a different sound.

Standing at the base of the 66-foot high residence hall on Friday, or on any of the other fifty or so occasions of the Baker House Piano Drop since 1972, one hears the Bruno, that unique sound only heard when a piano makes its swan-song dive from the storied dorm. (The measurement also represents the volume of earth vacated by the piano’s divot.)

It’s a remarkable blending of materials unlike that which the Guild intentioned, perhaps, but one that puts smiles on hundreds of faces.

Friday’s drop, on a crisp cool autumn afternoon, did not coincide with drop-day necessarily, but was a special treat for parents, alumni, and friends visiting for Family Weekend.

88 keys, 66 feet, 1 bruno.

The piañata plays one last song.

Inside this year’s piano was another treat: hundreds of Halloween candies, which added color to the piano’s descent, gave spectators who missed out on keys or dampers or pedals something else to take away.

This year’s piano was donated by John Keklak ’81, SM ’82 and Claudia Buser ’81, PhD ’92, who bought it for their daughter at a church fundraiser but soon realized it was beyond repair. “It was an honor to have our piano accepted for the drop,” said Keklak. “I lived in New House, but I’m sure I attended a couple drops in my day.”

Matt Basile, class of 2017, emceed Friday’s drop from the roof through a bullhorn. Basile wondered aloud whether to call this year’s piano a piañata?

While waiting for Baker residents to return from classes to partake in the drop, Basile entertained the crowd with some requisite piano humor, a few false countdowns and a collective wave to the news chopper overhead.

When the time at last came, the sounds of gasps and cheers and horns on Memorial Drive gave way to the one they’d all waited for, the Bruno. It, too, is a uniquely timeless sound.

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