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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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  • That's just great. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TheOriginalRevdoc ( 765542 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @01:26AM (#12198207) Journal
    College students conduct prank - film at 11!

    Seriously, why should I care about this? I mean, it's about nerds and all that, but... how is it "news for nerds"?
  • Argh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avalys ( 221114 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @01:26AM (#12198211)
    See, the problem with this is, MIT has a reputation (deserved or not) as being better than Caltech. Caltech can do this to MIT, and people go "Hah hah, how clever." But, if MIT were to do this to Caltech, people would say "What stupid arrogant assholes, why don't they stay in Cambridge and stop bragging about their superiority at other schools."
  • by cheesedog ( 603990 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @01:59AM (#12198357)
    Think about it: doesn't the fact that these Caltech guys were willing to shell out for airfare to travel 3000 miles in order to pull this stuff speak for itself? Doesn't this act itself turn MIT's campus into a sort of 'Mecca' for these people? Did they bow down and pray to The Great Dome before offering their sacrifices on the alter of prankdom?

    Would anyone at MIT have entertained, even just for a moment, traveling to California to do something similar to the California Institute of Technology? I doubt it.

    Not to say that Caltech isn't one of the top engineering schools in the country: of course it is. But it doesn't enjoy MIT's prestige, and these pranks just go to enlarge that prestige.

  • by adorai ( 870142 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:15AM (#12198412)
    know that Caltech is more hardcore. We also hear that it's more miserable.
  • Re:Argh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vagodin ( 606853 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:26AM (#12198444)
    I don't think people who know both schools think one is particularly better than the other in any consistent manner. (Though there are way more MIT alums than Caltech alums... including graduate students, Caltech has about 20,000 living alums, while MIT probably cranks out that many every 5-10 years or so.)

    My perception from the INFORMED public (in part from talking to both MIT and Caltech prefrosh, and my own experience at Caltech) is that Caltech is seen as a little more hardcore in the amount of work one has to do and in its nerdiness. To quote some MIT prefrosh I talked to just a few days ago (while posing as an MIT prefrosh on the bus from the airport.. yay free ride!), responding to why she isn't going to Caltech's prefrosh weekend next week, "I didn't even apply. I want to be alive in 4 years." Another one informed me that "Caltech students have the reputation of being the epitome of nerdiness."

    I'm not convinced that this repuation describes the truth, though. From my own observations, the student populations seem very similar, though MIT's larger population perhaps makes it easier for it to pass as less nerdy to those who want to see it that way. On the other hand, prefrosh interested in hacking and nerdy delights will no doubt see a paradise ignored by those who want normal social lives but top notch science or engineering education. Caltech may have the same proportion of on-the-surface-normal kids as MIT, but their absolute smaller numbers make it more difficult for them to present a unified front, as if there's a population threshold a group must pass to be easily noticed.

    Students at both schools seem to think they're getting the best science/engineering educations available in the world, and they probably are. Many also regret that fact because of the pain and sleepless nights such an education can lead to.

    More questions? Do some research for yourself, in both Caltech and MIT tradition: []

    In conclusion, they're all fine houses.

  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:47AM (#12198513) Homepage
    These pranks only seem to indicate that CalTech students have a massive inferiority complex? These pranks are lame. How hard, interesting, creative, or amazing is it to release balloons with C.I.T on them or print T-shirts? Flying thousands of miles just to do that only shows you have too much money and not enough creativity.

    Sorry CIT, but you only seemed to have proven to the rest of the world how lame you are (and I didn't even go to either of these schools).
  • Re:BS... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Samari711 ( 521187 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:59AM (#12198547)
    I looked at MIT 4 years ago and was not very impressed at all. Sure from a prestige standpoint once you get your MIT degree people will always be impressed but the feeling I got when I went to visit was that they didn't really give a shit about undergrads because they're not bringing in research money. It was like they weren't even trying to sell the school. Maybe they didn't think they needed to but one info session there was all it took to convince my not to apply.

    First they were using a promo video that was at least 10-15 years old, that contained more than a few inuendos about parties and drinking that seemed a little bit out of place since it was a few years after Scott Kreuger's death. Also they were bragging about how the president of Bose Stereo taught a class there every year while the speaker system buzzed the entire hour and a half the presentation lasted. The school might have a ton of resources available but I would rather be at a school where professors actually cared about their students.

    looking back, I definitely made the right choice. I'm confident that got more out of my education here at Notre Dame than I would have at MIT and had a lot more fun doing it too.

  • Re:fool me once (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vagodin ( 606853 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:07AM (#12198569)
    Caltech sees us as rivals, but we just don't care about them one way or the other.
    First of all, if someone explained it to you at MIT, then clearly someone at MIT cares at least a little. Also, your post makes it sound like you yourself actually care, at least a little. Either way, I think I can explain this "rivalry", in part.

    First, I don't think we see MIT as a rival in a "we win you lose" sort of way. But let's assume that we do in a "we want the best frosh we can get and a lot of people are considering both schools" sort of way.

    A typical Caltech freshman class has about 215 students. MIT's have on the order of 1,000. This means that the schools admit around 500 and 2500 students, respectively. MIT, then, has at LEAST 2000 students in it's prefrosh pool that don't even have Caltech as an option (in a given year), so that even if Caltech took all of the students that are chosing between Caltech and MIT (I don't know the number, but probably more than half of total Caltech admits applied and were admitted to MIT), MIT would have at LEAST about 4/5 of its prefrosh pool in tact. If, on the other hand, Caltech lost all of the students deciding between the two, it's pool of prefrosh would decrease by 1/2.

    Such a "rivalry," then, is understandably more important to Caltech than MIT, due to Caltech's small size (which, by the way contributes to lots of its awesomeness).

    Regarding a pranking rivalry, I don't think one has really existed in the past at either school. But wouldn't it be cool if there was one? Lots of cool stuff might happen. That was kind of the point of Caltech's work this weekend. We're suggesting a pranking rivalry, in good spirit. Looking at the response, it looks like MIT might agree, but let's keep it in good spirit. Pranking/hacking should be fun for the pranker and the prankee. If you give a good joke, you should be able to take a good joke.

    Prankers/Hackers at Caltech and MIT have a lot in common, and should have more interaction. Anyone up for an ice cream social? I'll provide music and a laser light show (much better than the one that was projected on to the green building... there will be more preparation).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:40AM (#12198646)

    And the April Fools waste of time and space stories are staying too. How terrible that you have to scroll past a silly story.
  • by i_like_spam ( 874080 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @03:51AM (#12198682) Journal
    Even though I'm an alum (you guess from where), the following are un-biased examples of inscription hacks.
    (1) recent hack by the west coast school []
    (2) a classic inscription hack []

    It's clear which of the two is more thoughtful, creative, and true to the spirit of hacking.
  • by Queer Boy ( 451309 ) * <> on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:17AM (#12199321)
    I mean, it's about nerds and all that, but... how is it "news for nerds"?

    Dude, if you have to ask why a prank between Caltech and MIT is being covered on Slashdot, why are you here?

  • by belg4mit ( 152620 ) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:48AM (#12199476) Homepage
    Approximately 1/4 of Engineers are foreigners [], so it may just be that some of the people who run your country or it's large companies went to MIT.
  • by Quixote ( 154172 ) * on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:06AM (#12199581) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but it is one thing for an MIT student to do such a hack; it is entirely another for someone from across the country (literally) do it.

"What I've done, of course, is total garbage." -- R. Willard, Pure Math 430a