Real Genius Easter Egg - DEI and Other Tidbits (Flood)
First, let me apologize. This is a rather lengthly list. I'm surprised it isn't here already.
Secondly, let me give credit where it's due. I obtained 100% of this information from another website (not mine):
Thirdly, some of these are borderline eggs - perhaps better described as anecdotal. The DEI reference is stuck in my head forever tho. =)
Finally, here are the rather numerous eggs:
The song which plays during the opening credits (which are overlaid over plans for various weapons systems) is "You Took Advantage Of Me", which brings to mind the statement of the Caltech Honor Code: "No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community."
During the science fair scene, Dr. Hathaway mentions a 12-year-old student who was the youngest admitted to Pacific Tech, but who "cracked under the pressure". This was inspired by an actual student at Caltech.
The campus looks nothing like Caltech's; many exterior and interior scenes were filmed at Occidental College, near Caltech, and Pomona, one of the Claremont colleges, in the L.A. area. The dorm scenes were shot in Pomona's Harwood dormitory. The "Tanning Invitational" was shot in Oxy's Thorne Hall; the laser lab was a nuclear physics lab in Oxy's Fowler Hall. The "Darlington Electronics" scenes were shot at General Atomics in San Diego. Rumor has it that Caltech didn't allow filming on campus because the film's obvious allusions to SDI research made the powers-that-be at the Institute uncomfortable.
Caltech student extras appear in some scenes, especially the new student reception scene.
The student residence has walls covered with graffiti, as were the walls in Dabney House at Caltech. At least one piece of graffiti ("Stills from the film: Gas") is a copy of a similar item from Dabney which disappeared during the 1987 renovation of the House (the wall upon which it was drawn was knocked out to expand a kitchen).
Chris and Mitch's room has a mural of a Voyager image of Saturn on one wall. This same mural existed in Dabney House room #50 at Caltech.
Jordan, the "hyperkinetic" mechanical engineer, is another character inspired by an actual student (whose nickname was "Tigger").
"Smart People on Ice" is similar to a Page House practice, discontinued around 1974, called "alley surfing", where one of the corridors (cement-floored) in the house basement would be flooded with a thin layer of soapy water and residents would practice skidding down the hallway.
Kent tells Mitch his brain will turn to "tapioca"; saying that someone's brain had turned to or would turn to "purple tapioca" was a popular figure of speech among Caltech undergrads.
Reclusive supergenius Laslo Hollyfeld is yet another character inspired by an actual student, one who did live for an extended period in the basement beneath the South Houses.
When Chris manufactures a slug out of dry ice for the coffee machine, Mitch comments on his use of liquid nitrogen in the container to keep it cool. (Even a freshman wouldn't refer to a solid substance as "liquid nitrogen".) Caltech students could easily purchase liquid nitrogen from the Institute's stocks for whatever personal purpose they may have had (and charge the cost to their student accounts, where it would often be paid for by their unwitting parents).
At one point when Chris is accused of being a "slack", he mutters "moles and trolls". In Techer slang, a "Mole" is a resident of Blacker House, and "trolling" referred to intensive studying (since someone who trolls too much never gets the chance to see the light of day, like a real "troll"; an alternate origin is suggested by the fact that hardworking physics students would have to spend a great deal of time in the basement of the Bridge physics building, and would thus be living "under the bridge" like "trolls" do).
The party Chris engineers is the "Tanning Invitational". A party with this name was held annually at a Caltech-owned off-campus apartment complex for students.
The women at the party are students from "a nearby college", the "Wanda Trossler School of Beauty". While there is no such school near it, Tech is only a few blocks from Pasadena City College.
Dr. Hathaway's TV show Everything is underwritten by "Darlington Electronic Instruments", which is also the company Chris is seen touring at the beginning of the film. This is an instance of the initials "DEI" which, interpreted as "Dabney Eats It", have a long history at Caltech, and are said to have been inscribed by Caltech alumni at (among other places) the summit of Everest, on the Moon, and on many satellites and space probes manufactured at JPL. (See this page for more discussion.)
The prank where Kent's car is "parked" in his room is similar to an actual incident where a car was disassembled, then reassembled in working order inside a room in Ricketts House.
While there is no secret elevator system leading from students' rooms to steam tunnels, Caltech does have a relatively accessible set of steam tunnels running under campus. Also, some of the student houses are constructed so as to have a space between the outer walls and room walls, called "hyperspace", which can be clambered around in.
Laslo's literal interpretation of a sweepstakes offer to enter "as often as you want" is reminiscent of two similar attempts by Techers: one in 1969, when bulk entries were sent to a Frito-Lay contest (resulting in changes to the contest rules), and another in 1975, by Page House students for a McDonald's sweepstakes.
When Dr. Hathaway administers his exam, he reminds his class that "we believe in the honor system here". Caltech's Honor Code has been referred to above, but the amusing point is that, due to the Honor Code, only a tiny percentage of exams at Tech were actually in-class and proctored - most were take-home.
The exam books in the exam scene look very much like the blue books used for many Caltech exams, particularly the cobra which seems to be on the back cover.
At one point we see an event called "Decompression", where students are screaming, beating on furniture, and playing with toys. This was an actual event at Tech held right after finals.
When Kent is being chloroformed in his room by the conspirators, they are observed by a passerby who doesn't remark on their activities at all. This wouldn't have been that unusual at Caltech, where student pranks ("RFs") on each other were not uncommon occurences. (The passerby happens to be Dave Marvit, the Techer consultant to the director.)
The truck the conspirators transport the popcorn in is labeled "Drain Experts, Inc.", another "DEI" reference.
When the conspirators break into Dr. Hathaway's house, Chris is seen picking the lock. This in itself isn't unusual in the context of the story, but it's worth noting that the study of lockpicking enjoyed some popularity at Tech, especially in Blacker House. Also, Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate and beloved Caltech physics professor, was an accomplished lockpicker and safecracker.
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||nascent on 11-26-1999
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