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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Cannon Hack by Matt McGann '00

The famous tale of the Caltech Cannon Hack.

In my email this morning:

The Howe & Ser Moving Company cordially invites you to the official sendoff of the Caltech cannon. Our company has recently been informed that Fleming House ™ is at MIT RIGHT NOW and is prepared to take back their cannon. Although we’re sad to see it go, we were only contracted to move the cannon here for CPW, and we respect the speed with which Fleming has responded. In their honor, we wish to afford them the grandest celebration possible.

And thus another great chapter in MIT hacking history comes to a close. I, for one, was quite impressed with the students behind “Howe & Ser.”

For the memories, I’ve below tallied some of the impressive media coverage the hack received, along with a photo by Jo Tong ’08.

Media Coverage:

The London Times article was accompanied by a comic:

The latest update from my email:

Apparently CalTech flew out a crew of 20 to retrieve the cannon, and took it away in a “much less elegant fashion” than the MIT crew.

The Brass Rat, though, will remain at MIT.

19 responses to “Cannon Hack”

  1. thekeri says:

    Aww, it’s gone already? Well, it was amazing while it lasted. Best hack ever.

  2. Omar says:

    The hack was awesome! I could actually see the cannon wink

  3. julia says:

    awww, gone so fast. i have a picture with the cannon tho =) let’s see caltech match this hack!

  4. Seen and overheard in front of the Green Building at 1:15 PM April 10: A 3-person camera crew from Channel 7, standing around looking perplexed; one of them is saying into his cell phone… “I’m telling you, we ARE at MIT, but there is DEFINITELY no cannon here…”

  5. Anthony says:

    your entry’s linked from web!

  6. alwang says:

    You can link to the Caltech Press Release as well:

  7. jack says:

    Add SI to that list of media coverage as well. Maybe will make the swimsuit issue.

  8. Sara says:

    I’m sad that it’s gone so soon!

    I can’t wait to see what Caltech has in store.

  9. Evan B. says:

    Hmph. I say let them take it back.

    Their prank today will only be a small footnote in the story of one of MIT’s greatest hacks.

  10. juang says:

    > Hmph. I say let them take it back.

    And let them pay the return shipping costs!

    > Their prank today will only be a small footnote in the story of one of MIT’s greatest hacks.

    It wasn’t even fully a “prank.” They removed the cannon while 50 East Campus residents took pictures of them and chatted with them casually. We even threw them a nice party. Of course, their website at makes no mention of any of this.

    Pictures of the party at

  11. Evan says:

    Well, their photos suggest it, and I had suspected it.

    So out of curiousity, what happens to the mini-cannon?

  12. Evan says:

    Wow…that would be amazing. But I think it’s unlikely.

  13. Evan B. says:

    A quick sidenote…

    I was kind of disappointed when I heard the NPR story on the Cannon Heist. Although they never directly called our heist a prank, they did call Harvey-Mudd’s theft a prank, which in my opinion casts an unfortunate shadow on our hack.

    I personally think it would be funny if Jack Florey wrote into All Things Considered. I bet they’d read the letter if someone did it.

    So Jack? That’s your cue…

  14. Monica says:

    >Of course, their website at makes no mention of any of this

    There is a small note at the end of “Our Story”

  15. Evan B. says:

    They altered the website. In its original form there was no such note, and the letter was generally a bit tackier too. This new one’s much better.

    Does anyone else think it’s annoying that they insist on spelling House with a V? I mean, I’m all in favor of Latinesque spellings in building friezes, but on websites?

  16. HamilTony says:

    The Fleming Hovse re-taking of the cannon wasn’t exactally a prank. MIT stole something that belonged to one of the houses at Caltech (something that does not in fact belong to Caltech) and that house simply took it back.

  17. Anonymous says:

    So where’d the Bang! flag come from?

  18. mangle says:

    would be quite funny if the guys in caltech tshirts who took the cannon this morning turned out to be from harvey-mudd….

  19. Alfred says:

    So it took 23+ Cal Tech’s to retrieve the beast. We’ve seen photos to prove it. Just how many MITers were involved and were we a bit more elegant than brute force (reminds me of drawings of Egyptian slaves dragging stone for the pyramids).