From hacks to real-life lightsabers, the MIT community has a long history with the Star Wars series. With the seventh movie premiering this week, Slice takes a look back at some Force-related activity on campus over the years.
Debuting in 1977, the first Star Wars film inspired a love affair with the series, but it was the release of the first prequel in 1999 that inspired a big hack. In May 1999, hackers—who identified
themselves as Rebel Scum—transformed the Great Dome into R2D2 using mesh panels to create the super-sized droid. The hackers demonstrated true mastery of Jedi principles by using the Force for good and provided MIT Facilities with instructions for removal, as well as box of donuts.
A lightsaber is among the items available for research testing at MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. The item, which was jokingly added to the equipment catalog years ago, can be rented for research testing for just $50 per hour, including training.
The Brass Rat
MIT’s Class of 2000 was one of a few cohorts able to see the R2D2 hack in-person. To commemorate the hack, the class included a slightly modified Great Dome in their ring design. A close inspection of the 2000 ring shows the Great Dome dressed up as the droid.
The very first Star Wars movie was released in May 1977 and just nine months later, the Northeast was hit with historic snowfall called the Blizzardof 78. So it was no surprise to Caroline Gee PhD ’81 when she woke up to snow and Star Wars characters covering the campus after the blizzard. “We had Star War sculptures everywhere. I woke up to see R2D2 in the Ashdown House Courtyard,” she remembers. Arthur Hu ’80 lays claim to building at least one snow-C3PO and R2D2 after the storm.
While the Imperial March may be the most memorable piece of music from the film series, the MIT musical version of Star Wars also deserves a nod. In 2005, members of the MIT Theater Guild launched a production of Star Wars Trilogy: Musical Edition complete with choreography and original music. Check back with Slice of MIT on Friday to learn more about the production and the alumni involved.