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Paperback | $23.95 Trade | £16.95 | ISBN: 9780262515849 | 248 pp. | 8 x 9 in | 77 color illus., 65 b&w illus.| March 2011
ebook | $16.95 Trade | ISBN: 9780262296519 | 248 pp. | 8 x 9 in | 77 color illus., 65 b&w illus.| March 2011

Nightwork, updated edition

A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT


An MIT "hack" is an ingenious, benign, andanonymous prank or practical joke, often requiring engineering or scientificexpertise and often pulled off under cover of darkness—instances of campus mischief sometimes coinciding withApril Fool’s Day, final exams, or commencement. (It should not beconfused with the sometimes nonbenign phenomenon of computer hacking.)Noteworthy MIT hacks over the years include the legendary Harvard–YaleFootball Game Hack (when a weather balloon emblazoned “MIT” poppedout of the ground near the 50-yard line), the campus police car found perchedon the Great Dome, the apparent disappearance of the Institute president’soffice, and a faux cathedral (complete with stained glass windows, organ, andwedding ceremony) in a lobby. Hacks are by their nature ephemeral, althoughthey live on in the memory of both perpetrators and spectators. Nightwork,drawing on the MIT Museum’s unique collection of hack-related photographsand other materials, describes and documents the best of MIT’s hacks andhacking culture. Thisgenerously illustrated updated edition has added coverage of such recent hacksas the cross-country abduction of rival Caltech’s cannon (a prankrequiring months of planning, intricate choreography, and last-minute improvisation),a fire truck on the Dome that marked the fifth anniversary of 9/11, andnumerous pokes at the celebrated Frank Gehry-designed Stata Center, and even aworking solar-powered Red Line subway car on the Great Dome. Hackshave been said to express the essence of MIT, providing, as alumnusAndre DeHon observes, "an opportunity todemonstrate creativity and know-how in mastering the physical world."What better way to mark the 150th anniversary of MIT’s founding than tocommemorate its native ingenuity with this new edition of Nightwork?

About the Author

Institute Historian T. F. Peterson has spent many years lurking in the corridors of MIT picking up gossip and monitoring hacks in progress.