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Caltech Pranks MIT's Prefrosh Weekend 530

doughnuthole writes "Caltech students ventured to Massachusetts this past Wednesday to unleash a series of pranks at MIT's prefrosh weekend. They distributed shirts with MIT on the front and '...because not everyone can go to Caltech' on the back. They placed inflatable palm trees in the infamous Tomb of the Unknown Tool and around the great dome and floated Caltech balloons in building seven. A banner transformed Massachusetts Institute of Technology into That Other Institute of Technology. Saturday night a LASER spelling the letters C-A-L-T-E-C-H was directed at the top of the Green building. A full account of the pranks is located at"
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Caltech Pranks MIT's Prefrosh Weekend

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  • MIT pranks (Score:5, Informative)

    by A Sea and Cake ( 874933 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:36AM (#12198264)
    MIT pranks tend to be so much more artful than the ones listed here. Caltech has yet to transform an MIT building into a cathedral [] or cause the president's office to disappear entirely. []

    I'm unimpressed by Caltech if they can't pull pranks that are better than the pranks MIT pulls on itself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:40AM (#12198276)
    RTFF []
  • Re:MIT pranks (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:41AM (#12198284)
    Actually, a few years ago, we _did_ cause our president's office to completely disappear.
  • Re:MIT wins (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:43AM (#12198291)

    No, that would be the DoS attack that was launched before the site was /.ed, in case you were wondering.

    I'm posting Anon because I go to Tech.

  • by Joe Decker ( 3806 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:45AM (#12198296) Homepage
    Caltech alum here (Darb/Ma/84), I'm wondering if the parent is thinking of the Cannon thing (the Fleming Cannon, as I recall, was stolen back and forth with Mudd a few times--maybe as late as the 1970s?)
  • by csrjjsmp ( 819838 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:55AM (#12198338) Homepage
    They actually did. For most of Saturday, the site was either incredibly slow or completely unreachable because of a DOS attack from MIT.
  • Re:Argh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShoeHead ( 40158 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:59AM (#12198353) Homepage
    Popular perception, perhaps. That's because more people go there, and more people care about USN&WR than care to hear the facts. Just ask an Asian parent.

    Search for the THES World Rankings (it's a pdf). Caltech has been the best training ground for young scientists for the past decade. Look at the data for yourself.

    They get into better grad schools (again, data available online), have higher starting jobs, work harder, play more sports, enjoy much better weather, have a huge legacy (Feynman, Millikan, Einstein, Hale, Beckman, Richter, and more) and have much more depth in education than anyone out there. They write the important papers, and do the hottest research.

    If you want to be a scientist, Caltech is the place to be.
  • mirror (Score:4, Informative)

    by SkyIce ( 184974 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:05AM (#12198380)
    mirror [] (see the pranks link for images)
  • Related Reading (Score:2, Informative)

    by Carpet ( 214377 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:17AM (#12198417)
    For all those interested in more school rivalries and pranks, get a copy of:

    If at All Possible, Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks

    by Neil Steinberg

    Very fun reading.
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:28AM (#12198453) Journal
    However, I was under the impression that Caltech had a rival on the West Coast, namely Harvey Mudd, right? []

    A situation where people in group A compete in their minds with people in group B, while the people in group B are barely aware group A exists and would laugh at the idea of competing with them if they thought about it. Examples: Harvard vs. MIT, CalTech vs. MIT, Linux vs. Microsoft.

    As I understand it, there's a series of one-way rivalries which goes something like so: Harvard targeted by MIT, which is targeted by Caltech, which is targeted by Harvey Mudd. Members of the targeted school are largely oblivious that they're the subject of said rivalry.

    Hopefully getting this on the slashdot front page (which is widely read by folks at both Caltech and MIT) might escalate the current prank war. It should be fun to have an active prank trade-off going between both MIT and Caltech. Hopefully people have a lot of frequent flyer miles.

    I have no idea how the Caltech students managed to find the free time for this, though. Maybe they're all seniors or something?
  • Re:MIT pranks (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:47AM (#12198515)
    Who here really thinks the phrase "Lady of the All-Night Tool" is meant to imply someone who studies hard?

    Given how passionate some students around here are about their studies, I wouldn't be surprised if some of them did study hard.

  • Re:MIT pranks (Score:2, Informative)

    by bartr0n ( 875045 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:51AM (#12198526)
    I personally am a big fan of the '84 Rose Bowl Prank, where the scoreboard was modified to say "Caltech 38, MIT 9." Look into the "Legends of Caltech" books for more Caltech prank history. About making rooms disapear: I am a Caltech student who has already had his room disappear over thanksgiving this year. I can also back up that we have made Dr. Baltimore's office (our prez) disappear at least once while I've been here, but it was not considered a big deal.
  • Re:BS... (Score:4, Informative)

    by FunkSoulBrother ( 140893 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @04:11AM (#12198574)
    I'm just a dropout from the U. of North Dakota, but even I know that Penn is a private school.
  • Re:BS... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Filiks ( 578065 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @04:27AM (#12198614)
    US News and World Report. 2005: #1 Berkeley []

    From 2000, but complete: Berkeley was the number 1 public university [] and 20th when counting in privates like Harvard and MIT. BTW, those two ranked numbers 2 and 3 behind number 1 California Institute of Technology aka CALTECH!
  • Re:MIT pranks (Score:4, Informative)

    by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @04:39AM (#12198642)
    Caltech has yet to transform an MIT building into a cathedral or cause the president's office to disappear entirely.

    MIT has yet to have a movie made about their pranks.
  • Re:Frosh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sndtech ( 738958 ) <slashdot@sndte[ ... m ['ch.' in gap]> on Monday April 11, 2005 @04:50AM (#12198674)
    frosh is the name applied to incoming freshmen before they are formally admitted at the begining of the year by the chancellor of the university.
  • Re:BS... (Score:2, Informative)

    by cloudkj ( 685320 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @05:03AM (#12198719)
    Well, okay, not best public school in the nation. It's only the best public school in the world [], and 2nd best school overall. Dude, do your research. But like they say, assholes are like opinions, everyone's gotta have one. Try to keep your community college level opinions to yourself though.
  • by i_like_spam ( 874080 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @05:16AM (#12198753) Journal
    It was superglued to the "Great Sail" []??
  • Re:Don't worry... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @05:17AM (#12198762)
    Nobody who is anyone has been at MIT in ages. I think the last smarty pants there was Richard Feynman and all he did was help make the nuclear bomb.

    Feynman [] may have done his undergrad at MIT, but he did most of his interesting work at Caltech, including quantum electrodynamics (QED) and Feynman diagrams.

    He also taught lock picking courses to undergrads as well as less interesting subjects like physics.
  • by krunk4ever ( 856261 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @05:21AM (#12198772) Homepage
    balloons in the dome at night []
    palm trees inside "Tomb of the Unkown Tool" []
    a full shot of someone wearing the shirt []
    a the only institute of technology retaliation []
    prank signature on white board []

    and the spelling of CALTECH: r/c.jpg /a.jpg l.jpg .jpg jpg pg g
  • Re:Frosh? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:35AM (#12199142)

    Prefrosh are prefrosh until the end of rotation, when the cannon fires.

    Frosh are frosh until the very same moment the next year, for there shall always be frosh.

    It's a complicated set of customs and traditions, but that's how it is.
  • Re:MIT Email (Score:4, Informative)

    by Smattacus ( 875069 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:39AM (#12199156)
    >one friend I talked to commented that she was friends with the moles,
    >the "legitamate" hackers at CalTech, and they claim to have no
    >knowledge of this and are busy with some other project

    Moles are nothing like the "Jacks" you have at MIT. Unlike whatever exclusive (and respectable, I'm sure) club there is for Pranksters at MIT, "Moles" means they live in Blacker Hovse. Blacker is a house, your equivalent of a dorm or a college. Granted they like building things, but trust me. The other thing they were working on that is referred to is their yearly get-drunk-and-get-laid-party, which was modeled after Escher paintings. Pretty cool, but pretty occupying. Pranksters at Caltech can be pretty much anyone; we do not need to be in a club to create things like this.

    Just trying to clear it up :-p

    Also, the general sentiment at Tech is that MIT is full of douchebags until they do something cool in return, rather than say how our pranks are not real hacks. I'm looking forward to see what happens.

    - Some Tech undergrad

    PS The REAL Tech.
  • Re:BS... (Score:3, Informative)

    by slackerboy ( 73121 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:43AM (#12199439)
    US News and World Report. 2005: #1 Berkeley

    Huh? According to the actual U.S. News & World Report rankings [], Berkeley was 21 overall for undergrad for National Universities. It was, however, #1 for public institutions. A more relevant ranking here would probably be undergraduate engineering []. That list has MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley, in that order.

    To be honest, in my experience, undergraduate engineering education at big research universities doesn't necessarily produce good practicing engineers.
  • Re:BS... (Score:3, Informative)

    by dollargonzo ( 519030 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:13AM (#12199620) Homepage
    hate responding to what looks like a troll, but presentation of a school to prospective students is very important. all you get when you look online is that they are #1 of lots of lists, not that they provide a good undergraduate education. my girlfriend transferred from notre dame to an ivy league, thinking it would be better, so she *can* tell, and she always says that notre dame was a much better undergraduate experience, where, as grandparent said, they care a lot about students.
  • by burdalane ( 798477 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:52AM (#12199883)
    The California Institute of Technology, usually known as Caltech, is a very small school. I went there as an undergrad and did not like it, so I would not recommend it to prospective undergrads. I probably wouldn't recommend MIT, either, because from what I've heard, it shares some of Caltech's problems and has additional problems of its own. But Caltech does have a reputation as a top-notch and very tough math and science university. Caltech is usually ranked within the top 10 colleges in the United States by the US News and World Report, which is the US's most famous college ranking list, and was number one some 6 years ago, beating out MIT.

    As for the ACM World Finals, I think this year Caltech tied with MIT. Neither did particularly well. In previous years, sometimes Caltech beat MIT, and sometimes MIT beat Caltech. I don't recall the details.

  • by ad0gg ( 594412 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:18AM (#12200669)
    JPL, the guys who do lot of the satellite missions(voyager, galileo, etc) is staffed by both caltech employees and regular government employees.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:54AM (#12201135)
    To the person who said that the cards weren't readable: some pictures at the prank website []. Definitely legible.
  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @12:02PM (#12201235)
    Now that's just steroetypical American arrogance rearing its ugly head again. And you wonder why the rest of the world hates you.

    Is it still arrogant if it's true?

    FYI, there are actually a lot of other countries out there as good or better than MIT or Caltech. Of course, they're found in obscure, little-known countries like India, China, Britain, and Canada, but they're out there.

    Names? As for England, Cambridge and Oxford are very good, both in the top 10 in a lot of fields. But Britain goes down fast after that. China's rising but not there yet, same for India. Canada doesn't have that many good schools, none of their best would top our top 20. That includes, for example, UToronto. You failed to mention Germany and Japan which would likely provide the best competition to the US, actually, after Britain.

    Here's a list of the top schools compiled by a Chinese university: []. I deliberately chose a non-American source to prevent any "bias.". Of the top 25, 18 are American. That's not the only authority, of course, but I'd love to see any measure in which well over half the world's top universities weren't in the US.

    Perhaps if your "super-elite, best-in-the-world" US colleges focused a little more on their geography classes instead of their patriotism classes, you'd know that.

    I'm familiar with many institutions across the world (and quite good at geography). And I've never seen one that profs in the sciences would routinely choose a job at as opposed to any of the top 5 US schools (say MIT, Harvard, Caltech, Berkeley, Stanford). The only ones that would offer competition would be Oxford and Cambridge. And I'm quite familiar with this situation. Probably different in liberal arts, but not science.

    You may not like it - but it IS true.

  • The Gauntlet (Score:2, Informative)

    by Illix ( 772190 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @01:19PM (#12202235)
    Having been there when the gauntlet was thrown down (and sadly having been a victim of the t-shirt prank), I can tell you that a) most of the prefrosh weren't entirely aware that anything was going on and b) it took a while for MIT to react because it was hard for anyone to imagine that Caltech undergrads would fly cross country just to harass us.

    The pranks were not as bad as they seem to have been reported. The balloons did go up under the dome, but very few people noticed them. The palm tree also went up on the dome, but it was not up there for more than a few minutes before it was retrieved and spray-painted white to appear covered in snow. The t-shirts were handed out at the Academic Fair which a fair number of prefrosh didn't even go to, and the laser on the side of the Green Building...well, let's just say I witnessed a few people departing to make that guy's life miserable. The banner reading "That Other [Institute of Technology]" was also rapidly counter-hacked to read "The Only [Institute of Technology]".

    It took a while for people to realize that Caltech students really had taken the time to fly out here and bother us (the smart money was originally on Caltech alumni at the grad school). MIT may have a rivalry with Caltech, but it's quite far away and not supported by any sort of sports team encounters. Caltech may have only MIT to focus on, but MIT spends a lot of its energy harassing Harvard, which has the advantages of being easily mocked and just down the road. Caltech has had some great hacks in the past - the Rose Bowl prank, the Hollywood sign - but MIT has a greater culture of regular hacking that involves much of the community. Thus, it's a little surprising that Caltech would throw down the gauntlet like this...and the invitation to prank their prefrosh weekend can mean only trouble.

    But it would probably be trouble for Caltech. They seem to have invested a lot of pride in this, but most of the prefrosh at least didn't even know it was happening. If MIT heads to Caltech and gets humiliated, Caltech might be cheering but the rest of MIT might not even know about it. I hope they know what they're getting in to.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong