Will April 28 mark the arrival on campus of a four-million-year-old black monolith emitting a single tone aimed at Jupiter? Probably not, but it's the date set for the "2001 Odyssey Ball," inspired by the 1968 film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which just such an object appears on the Moon, prompting the first manned space mission to Jupiter.
The "black tie, cosmic or festive attire" event, sponsored by the Presidents Office and Spring Weekend Committee, will be held in a tent on Kresge Oval from 8pm to midnight as part of Spring Weekend. All members of the MIT community -- including Trekkies, Mars lovers and astro-heads of all ilks -- are invited to show up in their best galactic costume or semiformal attire (ball gowns and tuxedos are also welcome).
If last year's Millennium Ball was any indication, the Odyssey Ball will be a spectacular party, featuring out-of-this-world food and decor. The two chief planners -- Gayle Gallagher, director of Conference Services, Events and the Information Center; and Ted Johnson, associate director of the Information Center and director of Community Services -- promise a wide assortment of desserts, lights and decorations, and music of the heavenly spheres (or at least a band).
Because they didn't want to ruin the surprise, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Gallagher wouldn't divulge details of the party, leaving the imagination free to roam. Will ball-goers get the opportunity to play chess with the HAL 9000 computer? Will the Odyssey Ball feature aface-off between HAL and Data of Star Trek? Will picture telephones be provided for calling a cab? Will undergraduates be able to enter controlled hibernation and sleep through final exams without recrimination?
Tickets, which can be purchased at the Source in the Student Center, MITAC (Rm 50-005), the Information Center (Rm 7-121) and Lincoln Lab, cost $5 for students and $10 for faculty, staff and other community members.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 11, 2001.