An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Stranger than Fiction: Which of These 12 MIT Stories Is Fake?

  • Nicole Estvanik Taylor
  • Slice of MIT

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At MIT, where the line between science and science fiction frequently blurs and the students build roller coasters and drop pianos off rooftops for fun, it can sometimes feel like April Fool’s Day all year long. And when those students graduate and head out into the world, it is often just the start of a series of surprising endeavors.

Can you spot the lone spoof hiding among genuine Slice of MIT articles from the past few years? Click on each story to find the one with an April 1 dateline.


The Mass. Ave. Hack That Told You if You Needed Glasses

A large banner was unfurled on Building 7, depicting what appeared to be a massive eye test. Admissions suspects the anonymous pranksters could be ambitious members of the Class of ’20 who are conveying a Caesar-ciphered message to MIT.


MIT Student Uses Summer Job at Wal-Mart to Train as Ninja Warrior

“Pushing around 70-pound shopping carts for eight hours a day in sometimes 100-degree temperatures did quite a bit for me in terms of cardio,” says Tomas Cabrera ’19.


Using Daylight to Make Drones Disappear

The US Department of Defense gave an MIT startup a unique request: Develop a drone that disappears within four hours of landing or 30 minutes after sunrise.


Music Composed from Human Bacteria

David Sun Kong ’01, SM ’04, PhD ’08 founded Biota Beats, which allows the bacteria from different parts of a body to incubate on music records, then uses algorithms to create a literal human symphony.


Alumna Helps Students Dig Up Their High School Lawn

To date, the students of Danielle Raad SM ’15 have excavated 400 artifacts, including a piece of cow tibia, a rusted skeleton key, an animal tooth, and a Billy Idol pin.


Alum Optimizes Schedule by Practicing Guitar on Morning Commute

Carrying a portable amp and wearing headphones, Peter Wolfe ’91 plays on his walk from Boston’s North Station to his Congress Street office—and sometimes on the commuter rail if he gets the space.


Dogs Don Wearable Tech

Davide Rossi MBA ’10 created FitBark, a wearable activity tracker for dogs—and possibly other pets. “I’ve received requests for cats, bunnies, horses, cows, falcons, chickens, and penguins,” says Rossi.


MIT to Recalibrate the Smoot

Nearly 60 years after the smoot first appeared on the Mass. Ave. bridge, the MIT-born unit of measurement will be recalibrated to the exact current measurements of its namesake, Oliver Smoot ’62.


It’s a Bird . . . It’s a Plane . . . It’s MIT Skydivers!

Nine MIT alumni jumping from an airplane, linked together in the shape of a T, isn’t something you see every day. But in 2018, a pair of professional competitive skydivers rounded up classmates to set a new record for the largest all-MIT skydiving formation.


Alumna Enjoys Business Trips, Despite Risk of Polar Bear Attacks

Alison Criscitiello PhD ’14 earned MIT’s first PhD in glaciology. Now she skis to work and camps on ice sheets. “For me, there is really nothing else in the world that compares to that feeling of being somewhere incredibly remote and frozen,” she says.


Armrest Wars—Designing an End to Elbow Battles

James Lee SM ’08 came up with a simple paper clip–inspired design that allows two separate arms on one armrest. But it wasn’t until he submitted it to the Crystal Cabin Awards—the only international awards for aircraft interior innovation—that his design started to “take off.”


Meet the Alum Who Coded Pied Piper for HBO’s Silicon Valley

Vinith Misra ’08, MEng ’08 was asked by his advisor to concoct a compression algorithm that would upend his field and revolutionize digital music, film, and file-sharing worldwide. Given that the entire project was fictional, it was easy.



Photo (top): As any MIT alum could tell you, the piano thing is no joke. Pictured in 2011, Andy Wu '12 gets ready to send the instrument on its way at the annual Baker House Piano Drop. Credit: Tom Gearty.

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