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A Fraternity Prank

Posted on November 8th, 2012 by Jenny Frankel

Do you know what a “smoot” is?

I’ll give you a hint: It is a measure of distance that has to do with MIT, a fraternity prank, and a 5 foot 7 inch man named Oliver R. Smoot.

Give up? Like with so many college stories, this one finds its origin in a fraternity prank. Back in 1964, the fraternity Lambda Alpha Chi decided to make a pledge named Oliver R. Smoot measure the local Harvard bridge using only his body. Smoot, willing to do more than me for the admiration of his peers, laid down at the beginning of the bridge, marked where his body ended, then moved up a bit, and did the whole thing all over again. He repeated this process until he made it to the other side of the bridge.

So how many smoots is the Harvard bridge? 364.4 and an ear.

The measuring of Smoot is part of a larger process at the university called an “MIT hacks”, and it is probably the most famous one to date. Essentially, an MIT hack is a practical joke which is meant to demonstrate a student’s technical prowess. Other hacks include putting a fire truck, with flashing lights, on top of the Great Dome, which is a large dome-like building on MIT. Another group of students have also attached a “Go Sox!” banner across two dormitories, spanning over 1000 feet.

Even though these pranks are done for fun by the students, and in no way officially sanctioned by the university, they show that MIT not only has a rigorous educational program (and considered one of the top schools for economics), but they also have a diverse and exciting student body who demonstrate their skills both inside and outside of class. If you find yourself near the MIT campus you can actually still see the marks along the side of the bridge where Smoot originally made his incremental measurements.

Written by Jenny Frankel

Jennifer is the Director of Financial Services at Envisage International. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Florida where she holds a Masters in International Business and a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. She has lived and worked abroad in Chile, Costa Rica and London, and traveled extensively in South America, Europe and Asia.

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One Response to “A Fraternity Prank”

  1. toàn Says:

    it very nessences

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