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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Power of suggestion by Sam M. '07

This entry will tell you whether you'll get into MIT or not in two minutes.

You know, I’m not a real admissions worker, but I bet they often get the question, “What’s the typical MIT student like?” and then they have to say something like, “Oh, the campus is incredibly diverse but all are united by a thirst for knowledge and an indefatigable work ethic, etc… There is no typical MIT student.” Well, no offense, admissions office–you really do an excellent job–but I think I just came up with the absolute perfect answer to this question.

My freshman year, I went to Sigma Kappa Late Night, a fall talent show for charity sponsored by one of MIT’s five sororities, and they held a raffle there. About halfway through the awards, one of the sisters announced:

“Okay, and the next winner is number 1024!”

Did you just think, “Hey, that’s a power of 2!”? So did I! So did Mitra. So did Mike Short. Apparently, pretty much every one of the several hundred MIT students in the room was simultaneously struck with that exact same realization for a fraction of a second.

As you can probably see from these blogs, the MIT student population is remarkably diverse and it’s nearly impossible to come up with just one distinguishing interest, habit, or characteristic. Some undergrads spent their years in high school winning science fairs, some spent them cow-tipping. Some like to sit on the beach alone and read physics textbooks, some like to watch the worst television shows in the world. Still, I think it’s safe to say that the typical MIT student will instantly recognize 1024 as a power of 2. It’s just a strange piece of deep, psychological programming that seems to unite pretty much the whole campus.

So, really, I think you could boil this whole stressful application process down to just one question if you wanted to. Have an interviewer say “1024!” and if the applicant says “power of 2!” they get into MIT undergrad.

And then every college in America could do the same thing, just with a different question.

I am so smart.

Now that I think of it, this is totally creepy in a Brave New World kind of way.

Moving on…

10 responses to “Power of suggestion”

  1. Jelyman says:

    What does it mean if when you saw it, you thought “2^10”?

  2. Mitra says:

    .. and yet I was the only one who commented on it out loud.

  3. Cindy says:

    And what if you thought computer screen pixels?

  4. Eric says:

    Well, if you thought 2^10, you obviously knew and thought it is a power of two. Hehe…

  5. Laura says:

    Haha yeah I only knew that it was a computer thing…like 128, 256, 512, 1024…definitely didn’t have the brain power to remember that those are all powers of 2, but yes. That was my immediate reaction.

  6. Biyeun says:

    One byte and half a nibble…

  7. Kiersten says:


    wow. I counted all the vertices on the numbers, as though they were shapes. 26 total, if you assume that the font is thick…:/ So if my interviewer had said “1024” I would have been all “26!”. And I would not have gotten in [cries].


  8. Joe says:

    I didn’t think of a power of two :( or of any shapes things or much of anything… That being said and I go to MIT, this is a (and the only needed) counterexample which proves that the typical MIT student will instantly recognize 1024 as a power of 2 to be false…. actually I’m not typical I’m just different… there’s that diversity again. Personally, when I saw 1024 I thought of 24601.

  9. Nikola says:

    Let is be realistic! Of course there are multiple answers, but the most reasonable seems to be

    log base 32 of 1024 = 2 I honestly don’t get the question, but at 1024 I am just relaxing. At what time do you go to bed?

  10. Cindy says:

    Yes LES MIZ!