Answers to the MIT Campus Scavenger Hunt

This post contains the answers to the MIT scavenger hunt I posted 40 months ago, excepting items in the 16 advanced item expansion known as the “Navigator’s Quest”.

I decided to end this due to changes that have occurred to MIT’s campus, the rate of which has been much speedier than I could have imagined 40 months ago. Buildings have been demolished, buildings have been built, buildings have been renovated, stuff has moved around, and permissions to various locations have changed such that original foundational ideas of the hunt could no longer hold. The Picture Scavenger Hunt, on the other hand, I still plan to run indefinitely, and it now has an established mechanism for pictures that become outdated.

In any case, congratulations to jakobw for the most items found during the duration this hunt was up.

As for the answers, long story short:


I decided to not chart locations that are answers to 39 here on a post on the internet. Ask me in real life for an answer to 39.

There are of course probably many more locations that several of these items can be found at than plotted in the map above.


For item 1, solidly shaded buildings have the floor numbered 0 aligned with the ground. I also accepted buildings just outlined in the map above, though, as those are cases where ground is between floors numbered 0 and 1, but the floor numbered 0 is closer to the ground level than the floor numbered 1.

For item 8, Senior House was my original intended item. When I was designing the hunt, I momentarily forgot about graduate dorms when writing this item. I was later informed that at least Edgerton House among the graduate dorms have both A/C and elevators. Eventually, Senior House closed, but Edgerton House does still remain, so this item had an answer through the end of this hunt, despite this not being true of the set I was originally thinking of.

I parenthesized the Building 8 answer for item 9, even though I accepted it, because Building 1 is a case where the building is the fairly indisputable central home of a course, whereas Course 8 has substantial portions outside Building 8.

For item 20, there’s many tiny buildings that satisfy the item that I did not bother to mark on the map above. Probably my favorite case of this is Building W55, whose bottom doesn’t even touch the ground. (I was actually fairly sad they did not number its singular floor 2, so that MIT could have the amusing feature of containing a building whose lowest floor is numbered 2.) Of course, Building W55 hadn’t been built yet when I published this hunt. Building 34’s lowest floor is in fact 1 because what lies underneath it is actually not grouped with 34. This is in fact the reason for one of the answers to item 33.

Item 21: the Pharos color printer is in W20-575. This is a quite useful thing to know as an MIT student. When I wrote this hunt, though, the Pharos color printer was in 12-182, a room that no longer exists.

Item 24: the elevator services floors 4, 5, and 6. Without additional permissions, though, travel is restricted to oscillating between 4 and 6.

Continue reading “Answers to the MIT Campus Scavenger Hunt”


Opinions on Food Around MIT

Yesterday, E. Tey made a Firestorm presentation on food options around MIT. I felt I’ll also lay out my opinions on various food choices as well. Mines fairly differ from his at certain points.

Student Center

There is no food in the student center.* Don’t look for food there. Particularly the Subway and La Verde’s. Eww.

*Shawarma Shack is actually food. And it is actually decently priced, for the things with obvious price tags. The things without obvious price tags tend to be surprisingly expensive given the price of other things there.

MIT Campus Establishments

There are no viable food options in the various food stores on MIT’s campus. Occasional food is not that bad, but they are pretty much universally overpriced for campus food (often $10+ for a lunch at Forbes Café, even more at Koch Café). The closest options to viability are the soups.

MIT Dining Halls

If you want an even worse option than eating at the Student Center or the food service locations on MIT’s campus, enroll on a dining plan. If you’re on something like a 5000-calorie diet, at which point the all-you-can-eat nature might pay off, maybe it’s worth it. If you’re not, you’re spending restaurant-level money on dining hall food. Sit back and evaluate your life.

MIT Campus Food Trucks

This is by far the best choice* for food one can obtain on MIT’s campus. There are several food trucks offering very tasty food at decent prices, most particularly Saté (previously momogoose), a southeastern-Asian food truck, with many delicious curries. The Chinese food truck (called “Savory Food Truck”) on Mass. Ave. is also very decent, though note their website has automatic sound, if you ever decide to visit it. The Chinese food truck also has a second window for falafel. I’ve never tried it. There’s also Jose’s Mexican food truck, which has much better Mexican food than Beantown**. In most of these food trucks, a nice, hearty meal is $7 to $9.

*Excepting the next section.
**I appear to be very unusual in the MIT community in having this opinion.

Free Food

This is the other best choice for food obtainable on MIT’s campus. Just subscribe yourself to the free-food mailing list. Get notifications of when free food appears on campus, or just happen to stumble upon it when strolling through campus. Free food appears often enough during the school year that one could reasonably live off of it. Help fight food waste while keeping your wallet happier.

Supermarkets Around Campus

There’s a store behind Random Hall called Shaw’s while being called Star Market (the brands are owned by the same people, and nearly everyone uses the names interchangeably, which can get quite confusing for people not accustomed to it), interestingly integrated into the building of a hotel. It’s an okay standard place to shop; though prices in nearly any other market around are slightly cheaper.

A bit more north of whatever-you-call-the-above is H-Mart, probably the best option on this end of Cambridge for Asian groceries. They have lots of free samples and even accept TechCash. Note that only one counter has a TechCash processing machine, so ask where it is before you get in a line.

[CORRECTED ON EDIT] On the other side of the street, there’s the Harvest Co-Op. The options here are pretty good in quality, but prices are quite high. They accept TechCash. Membership here is one of the most headscratchingly nonsensical things I’ve ever seen; I’ve not even saying it’s a ripoff—in fact it almost certainly isn’t—it’s just that it might cause me to scratch my brains off.

[CORRECTED ON EDIT] Also around here, there’s a Target in Central Square which has a surprisingly decent groceries section for, well, a Target.

Trader Joe’s near the western end of Cambridgeport (and thus somewhat north of the west end of MIT’s campus) is my strongest recommendation. There’s lots of high-quality options for very reasonable prices. They also have free samples and are good with being allergen-informative with their samples.

A bit north of Trader Joe’s is a Whole Foods. I strongly recommend Whole Foods to anyone who derives pleasure out of watching their wallets shrink at unimaginable pace from the buying of items pretentiously differently worded to look massively fancier than they really are, living a deluded belief that doing this is better for their bodies.

If one’s willing to take a longer walk west, there’s a Hong Kong Supermarket/Super 88 (once again a Shaw’s/Star Market nomenclature situation) a whiles west in Boston (specifically in the Allston neighborhood). I strongly recommend this supermarket, especially if you’re willing to deal with the derpiness of derpy Asian markets that do things like pile way too many products in rather crowding locations (which I very much am willing to deal with). Unlike H-Mart, the restaurants in front of this supermarket are generally actually worth it. Prices at this supermarket are shockingly nice, and it’s in Boston instead of Cambridge, so at least for now you don’t get charged for bags for your groceries. (But please still bring your own reusable containers. The Earth is a nice place.)

Restaurants in Cambridge

The following is the complete list of restaurants in Cambridge I consider worth it to dine at: Saloniki, Veggie Galaxy, Pepper Sky’s, Rangzen, Friendly Toast, Dumpling House. I’ll talk about these first.

Saloniki is a fairly new Greek fast-food restaurant just a block north of main campus at MIT, thus making it convenient from a campus perspective. Service is really fast and friendly. If you show them your MIT student ID you can get a free box of Greek fries with your order. Most food is very refreshingly flavored, and the place even smells nice. I just wish the containers they served their food in were more conducive to stirring. Most meals are $8-$10.

Veggie Galaxy is a vegetarian restaurant where all their options can also be made vegan (and their entire dessert menu is vegan). Their food is on average highly tasty, although I’d also say with high variance. Never substitute onion rings here: it costs more and they only give you three; if you must, order a side of onion rings instead. Most meals are $11-$15.

Pepper Sky‘s is a pretty good Thai restaurant. Most meals are $11-$14.

Rangzen, a Tibetan restaurant, in terms of food quality by itself, by far earns my highest marks of any restaurant I’ve been in in the area. The food is utterly gorgeous and feels ethereal to my taste buds. It even combines well with the calm music they provide for the setting to really nourish a place to momentarily feel happy and content. My strongest recommendations go to dishes involving eggplant or yucca, the egg noodles, and the deshi. The chicken broth soup is very fulfilling. They have lunch buffet on weekdays, for $14. Other meals tend to cost $11-$17. These are price tags I’d usually scream at, but here I consider it absolutely worth it for this particular food. I treat it as a place to occasionally dine where I’m willing to spend much more than I typically budget on food for the special experience.

The Friendly Toast is a rather weird restaurant north of Technology Square (around Kendall Square) that is generally diner-like. They serve many really weird combinations of ingredients that often come out admirably well. Meals tend to cost $9-$15.

Dumpling House is a Chinese restaurant that I’d say barely makes the mark for being worth it. There’s plenty of tasty options, but food portions are kind of small and there’s also some not-so-tasty options. It’s a typical Chinese restaurant in being family-style, so I could only estimate how much a dinner will be, which is…$10-$16?

Now for the not-worth-it options.

A lot of people at MIT really like Flour. I can see it: quite some food there is quite delicious, particularly the soups. It just doesn’t get delicious enough for me to feel it’s worth it often, though. Sandwiches are $9, soups are $5. Usually when I eat at Flour it’s more for the convenience of location, which is just slightly further from main campus than Saloniki.

Along similar lines is Clover. I find food at Clover even tastier than at Flour, but whereas Flour’s pricings feel expensive, Clover’s are outrageous. Their sandwiches are tiny yet $7.5-$11 [CORRECTED ON EDIT], and other items are even more not worth it. Clover brands itself as a “Food Lab” (and, incidentally, sprang out of MIT), and it really provides that impression, with how they concoct their foods. There are some drinks, though, that though still overpriced, are just really tasty. Top notch goes to the Coriander Soda.

Darwin’s is a sandwich restaurant a bit north from Random Hall. Its prices are similar to Flour’s, and…I never understood what the niche of this restaurant really was.

Beantown is the absolute worst Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life.* A lot of people actually really like this restaurant. I don’t get it. There’s about nothing redeeming here. Even their guacamole tastes like it is subpar, and that’s guacamole.

*I appear to be very unusual in the MIT community in having this opinion.

I have never eaten at Chicago Pizza, but people I talk to who have nearly universally consider it inedible beyond belief, and the worst pizza they’ve had in their lives. Maybe it says something that their hour of peak traffic is 1am, when people are desperately hungry in the middle of the night and everywhere else has closed.

Bailey & Sage seems to like to brand themselves as a place with really healthy options. Unfortunately, their food tastes like cardboard.

Bon Me is a Vietnamese-ish restaurant next to The Friendly Toast. The food is actually fairly good, but like Flour, the food is not good enough for its price.

Patty Chen’s Dumpling Room is an often-reviled restaurant at the Central Square end of Main Street. Despite most people considering this one of the worst options for Chinese food, I actually think it’s fairly okay. It’s not great, but I don’t find it bad. But it’s still just okay.

Dosa Factory is just slightly less than worth it in my opinion. There’s some good choices for Indian street food here. I’ll occasionally go there for variety.

Mary Chung has both terrible food and terrible service. Just never eat there.**

**This is also an unusual opinion, but unlike my opinion with Beantown, there’s actually substantial quantities of people that agree with me regarding Mary Chung.

Thelonius Monkfish’s most redeeming quality is its name really. It serves Thai food and sushi. It’s not particularly good at either.

Shanghai Fresh is an okay restaurant. That’s all.

Boston Burger Company is also just slightly less than worth it in my view, like Dosa Factory. Their food is generally quite good; it’s just not worth it.

There’s probably also a bunch of other restaurants I’ve eaten at that I didn’t even find good enough to remember.

Restaurants outside Cambridge

The one that most comes to mind is Fu Loon in Malden. There’s nice hearty and delicious Chinese food there.

Allston in Boston is the place to go to find a fascinatingly high concentration of Korean restaurants, many of which serve really good Korean food. But as always, disclaimer: Korean is my favorite cuisine.

EDIT1: I can’t put H-Mart, Harvest, and Target in south-to-north order, apparently.
EDIT2: Oops, I used post-tax amounts for Clover.

Southern Cambridge: An Ingress Territories Map

I made an attempt at depicting the southern half of Cambridge, MA in a map showing territorial control in Ingress, pointing out areas well controlled by one faction, like Cambridgeport (an Enlightened stronghold) and West MIT (a Resistance stronghold), also highlighting fronts and battlegrounds where control frequently shifts and action is relatively fast.


Well, in my head it was a lot cooler than it turned out. Perhaps with symbols crafted with more nuance this could look more like a battle map.

I’m at MIT; What’s My Street Address?

Here’s a visual aid for street addresses of MIT buildings. It’s not exhaustive, particularly for buildings in the periphery (and, of course, buildings not even within this snippet).

Note that street address may be different from mailing address; this is unfortunate.


Some notes:

  • Buildings 3, 5, and 7 are respectively 33, 55, and 77 Massachusetts Ave.
  • Building 32 is 32 Vassar St.
  • The MIT Tunnel System spans buildings with addresses that span 6 different roads.
  • Sloan third-floor connections span buildings with addresses that span 4 different roads (and curiously, main campus third-floor connections also only span 4).
  • Building 8 is a main-group building with an Ames St. address.
  • Buildings 17 and 57 somehow have a street address to themselves despite not touching a road.
  • Westgate Apartments (Building W85 and lettered extensions) spans 3 different roads in street addresses.
  • Building W53 (Carr Tennis Facilities) is addressed to Memorial Dr. despite having Amherst St. between it and Memorial Dr.

The background map is OpenStreetMap.

The Merciless Speed of Institutional Change

I’ve seen the construction of Building W64. I’ve seen Building 12 torn down, and a new building probably also numbered 12 gradually form in its place. I’ve seen Buildings 2, 4, 6, 9, 24, 26, 31, 35, 36, 37, 66, E19, E25, E52, E62, W15, and W31 undergo significant renovations. I’ve seen E17 and E18 undergo significant renovations twice. I’ve seen the renovation of the G8 floor of Building 32, and the dedication of the Charles Vest Student Street in its lobby. I’ve seen the modernization of the roofdeck of Random Hall (NW61). I’ve seen that roofdeck catch on fire and get restored. I’ve seen NW62, NW95, and NE80 lose their status as MIT numbered buildings. I’ve seen E94, EE19, EE20, N50, NW23, NW32, NW98, W36, W41, W55, W56, W57, W97, and WW25 gain status as MIT numbered buildings. I’ve seen the demolition of Buildings E33 and E34, and the plans for the future demolition of Buildings E38, E39, and E55, to completely change the structure of the area, the last of those being a graduate apartment and one of the tallest buildings at MIT. I’ve seen the beginning of construction for Building W83. I’m sure there’s many changes I didn’t even notice; I have only vague memories of a Building E28 north of E25.

I’ve seen the closure of Bexley Hall (W13), and its demolition, and with it, its line of unique i3 videos. I’ve seen the closure of Senior House (E2). I’ve seen the impending closure of New House (W70). With each of these, the home of an entire MIT community vanishes.

I’ve seen the Housemaster of East Campus change. I’ve seen the Head of House of Random Hall change. Between these two, I’ve seen the position of Housemaster be renamed the Head of House. I’ve seen every GRT position at Random Hall swap out at least once, and only one of them just once.

I’ve seen the Dean of Engineering change. I’ve seen the Dean of Science change. I’ve seen the Dean for Student Life change (to much fanfare and rejoicing). I’ve seen the Dean for Residential Life and Dining change. I’ve seen the Dean for Undergraduate Education change, in fact to my 6.01 instructor freshman year.

I’ve experienced no longer filling out Add/Drop forms on paper and doing them online instead.

I’ve seen the development of 6.02 alternatives 6.03 and 6.S04, and of 6.034 alternative 6.036. I’ve seen the formation of 6.008 and 6.009 (out of 6.S04). I’ve seen 6.00 split into 6.0001 and 6.0002, and then optionally re-coalesce. I’ve seen the fission of 6.005 into 6.031 and portions into 6.009, and the bifurcation of 6.041 into 6.041A and 6.041B. I’ve seen the overhaul of the 6.UAT/P requirement, as well as 6.UAT becoming recognized to fulfill a Course 3 requirement. After Course 6 brought about the ten-thousandth digit in course numbers, I saw Course 18 adopt them systematically, in the process causing multiple classes I’ve taken here to come by different numbers before I leave: 18.404 becoming 18.4041 and 18.443 becoming 18.6501. I also saw Course 18 massively refactor the 18.100 versions. I’ve seen part of 18.03 become the independent class 18.031. Who knows what I’ve missed changing in the courses I don’t pay heavy attention to, but even on the courses level, I saw Course 21F get renumbered Course 21G, the coming of IDS, and the merger of CMS and 21W.

Continue reading “The Merciless Speed of Institutional Change”

Categories MIT

Opinions without Names Attached: MIT Communities

In this post, I share my generalized thoughts towards 22 different living communities at MIT, from my experiences interacting with them, without explicitly labeling the descriptions with which community I’m sharing my thoughts on. (This, hopefully, helps dodge influence of judgment in people who aren’t themselves familiar with the described communities.)

1. Reckless and bold. In it to make things interesting by force. Usually consider their brazen attitude towards life positively, yet consistently feel too sketched out to get my personal self involved in their activities. Most of the time smile at the presence of their attitude, but occasionally feel it is too much and hard to stop.

2. Good with the rebellious and anti-establishment spirit, but that’s pretty much it. Mostly people yelling and circlejerking rather than actually doing anything. If more of them would actually bother to get themselves involved in processes rather than just complain about the incompetence of people actually doing the work, maybe they would get more of what they want and maybe people would have more sympathy for them.

3. A beautiful balance of wholesomeness and silliness. Community generally has a great collective sense of humor. Only sometimes gets too carried away with it.

4. Community constantly in search of ways to make there not be nice things. Makes fun of other communities all the time, yet when others make fun of them, complain about how the joke’s not funny and only they should get to make fun of themselves (and of course, others). Has several people that don enough levels of irony to irony-stack overflow. Loves to take a concept where there isn’t a clearly defined boundary of starting when things are not okay and pushing just a tad bit more into uncool territory than everyone else does. Has some members that are nice people to get to know as individuals.

5. Eccentric but cool community. Unfortunately many of its members are hard to get to know, let alone become friends with. Some of the things they do I still don’t really understand.

6. One of the greatest celebrations of nerdiness, a floor that goes far both with exhibiting the awesomeness of nerds and self-aware making fun of the derpiness of nerds. Has respectable dedication to what they bring to the overall community, and carries down ridiculously good running jokes. One of my favorite communities at MIT.

7. A community trying to jump onto the bandwagon of cool rebelliousness, and actually has done pretty well so far. Has slipped up from time to time, and also has had to deal with certain things, but quite has everything together now. Glad they exist.

8. Too small to be much of a community. Sometimes feel sorry for them due to other communities using their space and not taking care of it enough.

Continue reading “Opinions without Names Attached: MIT Communities”

Expanded Overthinking on Elevator Usage

I’ve previously talked about choices regarding elevators in this post.

Many of you have probably experienced or can understand the feeling of being minutely judged upon accidentally hitting the button for the wrong floor on the elevator and/or the feeling of minutely judging someone who you saw pushing the button for the wrong floor.

Today, as I entered an elevator in the MIT student center, alone, I accidentally pressed the wrong destination floor. As no one else was in the elevator, I corrected myself. (See the above link for why I might not have corrected myself otherwise; this situation reduces to the “a nearby floor was already called” case.) As the elevator headed up, I thought about what I would’ve done if at the moment, someone else was rushing to enter the elevator.

I might have actually let the elevator doors close instead of holding them, from embarrassment that I’ve pushed the wrong elevator button. This is arguably not the most commendable action, but I may have justified it to myself with an argument that entering the elevator may very well have not been the best choice for them as my incorrect elevator button push would have contributed to unnecessary time-inefficiency in their travel, and thus the other elevator might have been faster. This justification, sadly, reeks of an issue that seems analogous to the Gettier response to the “justified true belief” definition of knowledge: it seems that we’re really asserting a justification that happens to coincide with truth about the relative acceptability of letting the elevator doors close to an elevator whose ride is likely to visit an extraneous floor (it’s not even destined to visit an extraneous floor: that floor may well have been the floor of interest to the hypothetical person-rushing-in).

It is curious to consider these options, as much as this is an issue of very tiny importance in the grand scheme of life; it could encapsulate the ideas behind choices in decisions that matter much more.

On a higher level, elevator button-pushes really should just be revocable before fulfillment.

(On an even higher level of consideration, floor buttons shouldn’t be inside the elevator cars in the first place; a set should exist outside the elevator on each floor it services. This has actually been implemented, but the force of tradition led to people finding this awkward enough that they managed to successfully resist a better system.)