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Top Five M.I.T Hacks

Check out MIT's most infamous pranks!

In Cambridge MA, the word “hack” has a very different meaning than you may expect. According to Cantabrigians, the word, ‘hack” does not simply imply a way to make something easier. Instead it is a term used to describe an amusing prank. And no, we are not pranking you!

Students at MIT may be known for their brilliant minds, and brilliant inventions -- could you imagine a life without email, the internet, or even condensed soup? -- but they’re also known for their brilliant sense of humor. And that includes their long history of epic pranks. 

We thought it was only appropriate to highlight some of the most infamous and impressive hacks to hit Cambridge this April Fool’s Day.  MIT’s hacks will not only impress you, but will also leave you wondering how they were ever pulled off:

1.   The Alchemist Goes Bad

MIT’s campus boasts several iconic buildings and sculptures -- from the wacky Stata Center to the infamous MIT Dome and more -- each draws thousands of tourists every year. These icons are also the perfect blank slate for a cleverly planned prank.

MIT’s ‘Alchemist’ sculpture was a gift to the university on their 150th anniversary. Artist Jaume Plensa designed the statue with numeric symbols to honor the advances MIT students have made to math and science.

The day after the “Breaking Bad” finale, the Alchemist received quite the make-over from MIT students. The students-turned-pranksters transformed the otherwise white numbered man into Heisenberg, the main character’s alter-ego, complete with his signature goatee, dark sunglasses and hat.

2.   Giant Game of Tetris

In general, April Fool’s pranks have very little (if any) planning. But, according to MIT’s school newspaper, this next prank took nearly FIVE years to plan. 

The Green Building, which is located on MIT’s campus, is known as the tallest building in Cambridge. But it instantly received new heights of fame when the side of it’s exterior was transformed into a giant, full color game of Tetris. The giant game of Tetris was also completely playable! Spectators were even encouraged to use a lifesize controller to play the game. Impressive right?

3. John Harvard Gets a Makeover

Even Harvard’s campus isn’t exempt from MIT student’s hacks.  In the early morning hours of September 24th in 2007, MIT students crept into Harvard Yard and transformed the John Harvard’s statue into a character from the popular video game, Halo 3. The statue was seen wearing the video game character’s signature helmet and prop gun -- in all bronze.

4. R2D2 Comes to Cambridge

Like the Alchemist, MIT’s iconic ‘Great Dome’ is no stranger to hacks. The Great Dome has become the victim of student’s imaginations for many years. 

One of the most infamous pranks on the Great Dome happened the first day of Spring finals in May of 1999. The Dome was turned into the likeness of the Star Wars character R2D2 -- perfectly timed just days before the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  The-Dome-turned-Star-Wars-drone was made entirely out of large fabric panels, along with a spray painted tent to mimic the drone’s holographic projector.

The prank was so well received, that the-Dome-turned-Star-Wars-drone enjoyed a full day in the spotlight before being taken down. Luckily, the considerate hackers left detailed instructions for disassembly for the “Hack Removal Team.”

5. Turning Things Upside Down

What better way to welcome newly admitted MIT students to their new school and home, than to welcome them with a pretty impressive hack.  New students and their parents were able to see a hack first-hand, instead of hearing of past pranks from student tour guides.

The hack, affixed to MIT’s Weisner building on Ames Street was a fully-furnished rec room any college student would envy.  Onlookers could see the fully-furnished room hanging above their heads upside down complete with pool table, lamp, coffee table, and chairs.  The room even had hardwood floors and a fake cat sleeping on one of the chairs. Now that's attention to detail!
 

photo credits: cover1, 2, 3, 4, 5


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