Danger: Falling Pianos

via MIT News Magazine

In the fall of 1972, Alvin “Todd” Moser ’75 hit on the perfect subject for his final project for Doc Edgerton’s 6.714 Strobe Photography Lab. A large contingent of fellow Baker House residents was plotting to throw a piano off the roof of the dorm, onto Amherst Alley. “I thought it would be really cool to film it in slow motion,” says Moser. “It would fall down very gradually, and you would see every little thing pop off of it when it hit.”

The ringleader of this clandestine operation, Charlie Bruno ’74, had “often expressed the dream of dropping a piano off the roof,” Moser recalls. Bruno, a self-described “high school wimp turned hacker,” was legendary for his antics—streaking, water fights, kicking in the dorm elevator’s door (and then carrying dorm mates’ things up the stairs during repairs to make amends). “He came to MIT pretty much as a total introvert and somehow blossomed into the most amazing extrovert I ever saw,” Moser recalls.

The chance came when Jon Kass ’74 decided to leave Baker and offered Bruno his upright piano. The drop became “almost a house-wide project,” according to a Tech article written just after the event, and took about four weeks to plan. “Being engineers, everybody got involved and made a regular project out of the whole thing,” says Moser. Aside from the allure of wanton destruction, it provided an engineering challenge and an opportunity to conduct experiments. “It’s going to be a 6.08 problem set done in experimental form,” explained a student on a tape recording made just before the drop. Another student’s rationale: “To prove that there’s gravity.”

On the appointed day, October 24, a group of students took the piano to the sixth floor in the elevator, lugged it up the stairs to the roof, and adorned it with graffiti (including “IHTFP” and “Danger: Falling Objects”). Others were on crowd-control duty as spectators gathered below.  Read more here…

Or find out how to repair a piano (though probably not from that height) visit here

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