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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Yay! A hack! by Laura N. '09

Know what're cool? See title.

Sometime late last night and/or early this morning I received a rather suspicious message from someone who would only identify himself/herself as “Jack Florey*,” telling me that rather interesting, picture worthy items had mysteriously appeared on and around the Little Dome, Lobby 7, and the Infinite Corridor. I take my blogger responsibilities quite seriously and hurried over to get pictures before things were taken down. Besides, what good MIT student isn’t up at 4 AM? (Dear Concerned Parents: we do sleep. Really. Just not during normal hours.)

*Jack Florey is the name of the fictitious character who often takes responsibility for mysterious things that happen at the Institute during the middle of the night. My clever little paragraph up there is just a cute way of saying that a friend of mine tipped me off about the hack, but publishing his or her name on a public on-line publication would be rather rude of me. Hacker types like to remain anonymous. Mostly because they’re usually doing something illegal, and also because it’s part of the Hacker Code of Ethics to never claim responsibility for hacks. Think about it- it really adds to the mystique of the whole thing if you don’t know that the kid sitting in front of you in 3.091 lecture was up all night rigging up clever practical jokes.

But I’m going to build up the suspense a bit longer, because there are 2 things I want to cover first. Number 1: I answered your questions in a separate entry. Read it all here.

Number 2: If you haven’t heard about the mail mix-up, read Ben’s post here and/or check out the discussion on collegeconfidential. Basically the gist of it is that the admit “tube things” were accidentally mailed earlier than the defer and reject letters, which really bites. I have no idea what this must be like for you guys; I can only imagine that it’s really frustrating and upsetting. Just hang in there and remember that it’s not the end of the world.

And now, to brighten up your day- on to the hack!

Mysteriously during the night, MIT was turned into….

a Mario level!

Read on for (lots!) more pictures.

The Infinite Corridor was decked out with many paper cutouts of those famous green pipes, clouds, rolling hills, and coins:



A kiosk in Lobby 7 that usually runs informational videos about MIT was now set up to play the original Super Mario Bros:

No really. Like you could actually play it. I did. =)

One of the Athena machines was showing a map of Super Mario 3:

Somewhere down the Infnite there’s a projector that runs advertisments about student groups and actvities. Unfortunately the picture I took didn’t come out too well, but hopefully you can recognize that the hijacked projector was playing a Mario time trial:

Some more scenery down the infinite:

(Hee. =) That ^ was one of my favorites.)

There was even a high scores banner in Lobby 7:

Hee. E1337. Get it? It’s like scientific notation. Only it’s a word too. =D

These characters each occupied the space above each of the four pedestals in the corners of Lobby 7:



Some more elaborate characters were hung from staircases:

And this Mario was in Lobby 7:

…but…what is he hanging from…?….



(This is such an awesome pic that I linked the thumbnail to larger version- check it out.)

And of course, what Mario level would be complete without the all-important triangular flag?

Unfortunately, one of the coolest parts of the hack was impossible to capture with a photograph. As I walked into Lobby 7, camera in hand, ready to document the hell out of MITMarioWorld, I was met with…music. The Mario theme was resonating throughout Lobby 7. It was. so cool. =)

Unfortunately, as Matt mentioned: poof. This hack disappeared rather quickly, which was sad. But it was still pretty darn awesome while it hung around.

Yay for hacks. They’re so cool. Hackers: do more please. Kthanx.

Many thanks to rcg, who graciously allowed me to borrow a few of the pictures he took. Like the really cool one of the pipe and banner from the 3rd florr. He’s awesome.

Also, many of the questions posed in comments have been answered here. Here’s a popular one, just for the record:
Lee Gearhart, ’76: Laura, thanks for posting this, with all the photos! While being a pre-Mario generation alum makes me miss some of the references, I certainly appreciate the planning, time, and effort that went into this. Your photos were well done, and help preserve that time and effort for other’s enjoyment.

To me, “Jack Florey” always meant Fifth East. Has the nomenclature evolved?
That’s a great point. Jack Florey definitely does refer to Fifth East, and Jim Tetazoo still refers to Third East, and there’s still ORK and THA and other old favorites, as well as some new ones like the WHO (Western Hacking Organization). However, in my experience, Jack Florey has always been the most famous in more mainstream culture. If you’ve heard of hacks at MIT, you’ve probably heard of Jack Florey. If you’re actually an MIT student, you know he’s not the only one. In fact, this particular hack involved people from all over campus. But since my audience here is actually prospective students, I used Jack Florey in hopes that the name might ring a bell for a few people.

100 responses to “Yay! A hack!”

  1. Jessie says:


    As I know some of the involved parties…yes, they had a lot of people. With something that big, you’d want enough people so that you can do multiple things at once.

    If faculty walk in on them (assuming they’re somewhere that’s normal to walk into and not, say, behind a wall), it probably depends on the faculty. If students walk in, whatever, it would be a little startling but how many students are going to turn hackers in? If security walk in, that’s more of a problem.

    I may say more over on my own blog. smile

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think it was Mario Institute of Technology today… Thanks for the great photos!

  3. Ruth says:

    That’s what I get for skipping bio… I missed it :(

  4. Aalap Dighe says:


    I was curious can they take action like suspend students for a hack? I hope not. Anyway, it would be cool to do a hack getting some of the faculty involved too! Or maybe you could convince some security gaurds beforehand to turn their back on you. After all, hacks are pretty harmless and so much fun. And with that kind of cooperation, you could do some serious hacks. But the Mario hack was cool too! Go MIT!!

  5. Sandy says:

    Wow. Just another reason why i’m coming to MIT next year. That’s just so cool.

  6. Minh says:

    That’s awesome!

  7. Rafael says:

    yeah you guys at MIT are really THE E1337!!! I love the hack.

    Hope I get into MIT, I’m and RD applicant *cross fingers*

  8. Emi says:

    Hahaha. That was a wonderful hack. So funny!

  9. Adnan Esmail says:

    Cool! Just wondering how they have the time to do these hacks. I mean, considering someone is awake at all hours of the night. This one was around 4:00AM, must have taken a while to set up, right? How were they able to set it up quickly enough? It must have taken quite a few people, right? What happens if faculty/security or even students walked in on them while they were setting it up? Would they get in trouble?

    Please do provide details =).

  10. Scott says:

    This is better than any of the previous hacks I’ve ever seen online or in the MIT compilation book! Makes me want to be accepted more than ever.

  11. Teck Lee says:

    That is so awesome. The Mario Theme is like a timeless classic. I’m humming the tune to myself right now.

    (This is the first time I have commented on your blog, but I always smile when I see it, since my name just happens to be Teck, and everyone knows how cool your blog title is.)

  12. saz says:

    i got up at 3am today and was thinking of going to laverde;s to get a sandwich, but i had chilli in my fridge instead ….

    how i wish now that i had gone to w20 instead …. i missed the back entirely!!

  13. zoogies says:


    I just want to leap up…and punch the question block…

  14. Hartley says:

    Hmm… I wonder if they got any ideas from this site:

    Notice the picture about halfway down the page with Cambridge on a scrolly-board-thingy in the background.

    But yeah, that’s a pretty good one, especially since hacks are one of the more important reasons why I want to go to MIT. *Devious smile*

  15. Aalap Dighe says:

    Hi, Can anyone please tell me what the E1337 thing is? I didn’t get that…I am applying RD to MIT this year. And the Mario hack has really made me want to get admitted. You guys are so cool, you obviously study like hell and still get time to do such fun things. I mean it’s awesome!!

  16. Jessica says:

    Love the hack. It’s so great. I was there this summer when a lightning bolt was put up for Harry Potter. I was secretly giddy about having a hacker do something while I was there.

  17. HAHAHA!! Even though I’m all the way in Kuwait, I can proudly say I know what you’re talking about…ahh Jack Florey….to say that I once sat on top of that MIT Dome with the flag on it gives me great jubilance =D..Heck basically I’m saying MIT IS AWESOME wink…I went on a Jack Florey tour this summer at MIT…didn’t seem that great to me…but when I found out what types of hacks they do…hehe…made me want to go to MIT even more…Anyway I’ve already said too much :O .. Hope this doesn’t affect my chances in RD hehe =P

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

  18. Ben says:

    zoogies- was my first thought too! When I walked into Lobby 7, I yelled out “Dinosaur Comics!” Unfortunately, no one around me knew what I meant, and I made a fool of myself. Oops! But I sent Ryan links to the pictures, and he posted them on the site today.

    Also, AnnaKot, E1337, along with being scientific notation for 10^1337, spells out “elite” in computer-nerd-ese.

    Finally, I had no idea you had one of these Laura. Cool!

  19. Laura says:

    Ben: I get it now!!! That’s what you were talking about! Haha. So sorry- we thought you were referring to the Hammer Brothers picture as a “dinosaur comic” and were like…”it’s from Mario!!!”

    But it all makes sense now. =)

    Thanks so much for sending in the link- that’s totally awesome!

  20. Larry says:

    Gotta work up my imagination in preparation for next year: I can’t go to MIT and not pull off some crazy hacks!

  21. Cool hack! Do you guys rate hacks? I’ve heard about the MIT balloon popping up at half-time during the 100th anniversary Harvard v Yale Football Game (American football). But I got that from wikipedia, and hence cannot assume it to be true.

  22. LizHaxx0r says:

    AWESOME! hacks look like so much fun! i wonder how they do all that stuff?! like how do they get everything up and not get seen i hear the school doesnt like hackers!!! omg mario is so cool! im going to play that now lol! i really really hope i can come to mit then ill find out what the sophocles constant is!

  23. AnnaKot says:

    Guys, i have an idea.

    It requires some building. smile

    Since I only apply to MIT, I cannot be there to realize it. With whom can I share it?

  24. Shannon says:

    Hey Laura! Thanks for getting back to my question so fast. I think I’ll definitely contact the coach when the time comes. It would be cool to get recruited, though…

  25. AnnaKot says:

    Aalap Dighe, E1337 is also 31337. Along with elite, it can be noted as a standard port for BO troy program smile

  26. Laura, thanks for posting this, with all the photos! While being a pre-Mario generation alum makes me miss some of the references, I certainly appreciate the planning, time, and effort that went into this. Your photos were well done, and help preserve that time and effort for other’s enjoyment.

    To me, “Jack Florey” always meant Fifth East. Has the nomenclature evolved?

    Oh, and tell your hacker friends that if they want a hack to last, try adding exhibits to the Hart Nautical Museum. Jim Tetazoo did that in ’79, and it went unnoticed for 3 months.

    Thanks again!

  27. Maria says:

    Wow, I wish I was intelligent enough to get into MIT. raspberry I would have so much fun… Thanks for sharing the pictures!

  28. Chris says:

    Awesome. So is anyone ever going to update the online IHTFP hack gallery? I get the impression these happen on a smaller scale all the time, but no one’s sharing them with the outside world.

  29. Wow! Really cool!

    I wish I could get my high school to do that… : P

  30. Anonymous says:

    Damn. I missed the first hack while I was here … and such a cool one. My phone does the Mario song … damn, I’m so sad. From what I hear, I only missed it by about an hour! I thought these things were generally left intact for a day or two?

  31. Shunjie says:

    Lovely insight in to life in MIT, tks for sharing

  32. Ryan Gardner says:

    This is rather lame compared to the hacks of yore. The only thing that was even remotely cool was the mario coming out of the pipe. The rest of it looked like something in a elementary school.

    Exploding blimp at havard/yale game = cool

    This = lame.

  33. Lyly says:

    Thanks for sharing that. Great to see pictures of the Infinite; some things never change

    Lyly, Class of ’84

  34. Andrew says:

    I’m applying to MIT. Things like this are exactly why I’d love to go.

  35. Graeme says:

    That’s really weak. Paper cut-outs on the wall? Come on…

  36. anon says:

    yeah uhhh that’s pretty “cool” i guess? bet you guys are pretty normal wink

  37. polg says:

    incredibly brilliant

  38. Ed Minchau says:

    Doesn’t anyone do stuff like put a Volkswagen on top of the dome anymore?

  39. Jason says:


    Been better.

  40. Scott says:

    This brought a huge smile to my face! It makes me wish I was academicly driven enough so that I too could attend MIT. If I stumbled across this as a student, I’d start acting like a spaz, running and jumping around like Mario while singing the invincibility music…

  41. dukkadukka says:

    you are fuckin sad, sad people!

  42. Michael says:

    Thanks for the posting Laura. Reminds me of the old days. Phone dome, home on the dome, die hack….

    Some background info:

    Security has been known to watch a hack finishing, but only if it’s taking place in accessible areas.

    Hacking per se doesn’t get you in trouble — being on a roof or behind a door that is supposed to be locked does. however the policies change over the years.

    If you want to read about some of the classics stop at the MIT museum — they keep a hack archive. Hopefully someone will donate these pictures to them.

    The MIT balloon at The Game did indeed happens. There are photos. Visit the archives at the MIT Museum.

  43. Pete says:

    Where in NJ you from?

  44. Jason says:

    Wow.. makes me wish that I still delivered Office Depot supplies for you guys. I really miss walking around campus, especially for reasons like that.

  45. lauriel says:

    Very cute~ Thanks for the detailed photo narrative!! Miss being there in person, although I recruit now.. but it’s not the same. ;P (course 2, 2000)

  46. well... says:

    Jason, Thats why kids like you arent allowed in.

  47. maxcool says:

    now i know what happens @ mit


  48. l says:

    you sad bastards

  49. bgrh says:

    Takes me back to my son’s childhood…

  50. Allison says:

    if only i hadn’t skipped teal =(

  51. Killerfox says:

    Whoah! that looks awesome, really really cool, hurrays for hackers like these, keep it up!

  52. Alex says:

    Nice tribute but not really much of a hack. Move along people…

  53. Anders says:


    That is really cool, and remember me that I have to return to my favorit school.

    Keep up the hacks



  54. Thats cool !!! Must have taken a lot of work…brilliant stuff ..cant wait to get to MIT (if im accepted ) and do even crazier stuff

    JACK FLOREY ROCKS !!!!!!!!

  55. KOllberg says:

    Well this was intresting !!! =)!!

  56. paolo says:

    Mamma mia! I really hope no one has been suspended because of this marvellous hack! I thought MIT was one of the best place in the world for studying, now I’m sure it’s also the best for…well, everything else.. smile thx

  57. aRdho says:

    are u a MIT student???


    thats coolll smile

    nice to know u…

  58. sethburger says:

    @lauriel I doubt it, but if she is that’s ok, b/c she’s hot.

  59. Big Dan says:

    You only get in trouble for a hack if you damage property or endanger people. The best hacks leave behind instructions for Physical Plant to remove it smile

    How come so many people know about Jack Florey? I lived one floor down from 5th east when I went to MIT, has Jack Florey become a generic moniker??

    Thanks Laura for the pics. Even though IHTFP I still miss it.

  60. Anonymous says:

    you’ve been slashdotted!

  61. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for documenting this – it’s very well done, and a memory to be treasured.

    (Oh, and this is probably obvious but..) Just thought I’d add that the high score table is doubly amusing, since the scores for each scientist correspond to various constants associated with them (the Avogadro number, the universal gravitational constant, planck’s constant – and, of course, the oft-mentioned “leet” for Sophocles the greek general/playwright; the significance of the 8.67 escapes me though, unless it’s just the sequence – is there a course 8 course by that number? Perhaps one of the hackers was taking Ancient Greek History? grin

    Anyway, excellent job of documenting things. Thank you.



  63. Rubens says:

    Meu primo faz um coc

  64. Brown Ron says:

    You’re cute! Wanna date!?

  65. loca says:

    i want ot see more hacks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  66. KIP says:

    MIT class of ’99 here, that’s a pretty cool one.

    I was impressed by how involved they got with it

    and how much of the infinite corridor was used.

    It’s also good to see that they didn’t close off

    all the routes to the dome and top of lobby 7

    during the construction.

    Ah, the joys of hacking, good times. . .

  67. DUNK says:

    How did you hang the stuff from the ceiling like that?

  68. rodrigo says:

    fantastic hack, you guys are really funny!

  69. Anonymous says:

    a bunch of geeks


  70. Laxigue says:

    Hello From France

  71. bavetta says:

    Jim who? You mean James E. Tetazoo III.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Vive la France and goog job

  73. really cool

    Robert – Brazil

  74. Eugenoii says:

    very.. very .. coolllllllllllllll! raspberry

  75. Rodrigo says:

    Minha nossa !!

    oque significa isso???


    Congratulations, very coll


    BRAZIL grin

  76. bwaaaaahahahahahaa sooo cooooL

    MAN if i had money.. i woould

  77. From the Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute Of Tecknological Arts, to *this !

    SWEETness 8^ ]

    Happy Holidays, everyone!

  78. Cristiano says:

    Man… i’m from brazil… and i ‘d love to study engeneer there… how can I do it?

  79. Victor says:

    Just guessing, but “8.67” might refer to Thucydides: Book 8, Chapter 67. I’ve no idea if the “Council of 400” has MIT-specific significance.

    The following quote is actually from Aristotle’s Rhetoric, but relates Sophocles to it, and perhaps to this hack.

    “If a conclusion is put in the form of a question, we should state the reason for our answer. For instance, Sophocles being asked by Pisander whether he, like the rest of the Preliminary Councillors, had approved the setting up of the Four Hundred, he admitted it. ‘What then?’ asked Pisander, ‘did not this appear to you to be a wicked thing?’ Sophocles admitted it. ‘So then you did what was wicked?’ ‘Yes, for there was nothing better to be done.'”

    Well said. smile

  80. LAMARA says:

    HI!!!! LAURA




  81. Lucas says:

    Lol i gotta do that

  82. A X E L L says:

    Bellissimoooooooo!!!! (very Cool)

  83. Little Fire says:

    Your Blog very cool…

    i’m from brazil…

    speak portuguese ?

    happy new year !!!


  84. Troy says:

    very good. my favorite though is still when they turned the dome into R2D2. i just got accepted early. haha im already brainstorming for next year. hacking is just one of those things that makes MIT different from anywhere else. its too rich of a tradition for me not to follow haha

  85. isRAEL says:

    || BRAZIL || BRAZIL || BRAZIL ||


    Show de bola!!!

    Adorei o trabalho da galera do MIT!

    Very good!


  86. NICE

    Waterloo University CS still rocks though..

    wata wata wata loo loo loo

    We have a similar thing…its just its the Math Faculty(CS belongs to this) vs the Engineering Faculty…good times

  87. keko jones says:


  88. maninblk says:

    F.Y.I. this has nothing to do with MIT Mario.

    i would just like to tell you , you are a very attractive woman. all that and MIT, daaaaaaaamn.

    try not to be freaked out by this but if you would like the greatest massage of your life, email me. don’t worry, grammer and spelling aside, I.Q. still over 130, even after all that partying. wink

  89. cody gates says:

    i loved it was awesome i wish i could do that i’m gonna show it to my uncle he’ll get a kick outta this he’s a fan at video games especially mario

  90. que coisa doida, como meu avo ingles diria “HERS LYING” vlw povo ingles!!

  91. Ahh, that’s nothing. I remember when I turned the foorball stadium into a foosball game.

  92. That is a great prank .. BRAVO!!! … Is Cal Tech going to do the same for Legends of Zelda??

  93. David says:

    Sophocles actually refers to one of the most infamous MIT hackers of all time. Different hackers have different pseudonyms that they sign in with whenever they get to unusual locations throughout campus. Sophocles is a sign in that is EVERYWHERE. There are THOUSANDS of them in different hard-to-reach places all over campus. It is not known who this person actually was, but he/she really was a E1337 hacker.

  94. Trinity says:

    OMg.. just say this while surfing @ work. That is soo awesome! way to go guys!

  95. dindin says:

    great !!! mario is fabulous