The Lions Gate Bridge carries some 70,000 cars almost a mile across the entrance to Vancouver's harbor every day. In a city polishing itself up for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the bridge is prime postcard fodder.
Except today, what with the red-and-white car dangling from the center span. And since 4:15 this morning, it's been the Ministry of Transportation's problem to get the thing down. Allan Galambos, wiry and gray-bearded, is the ministry's head structural engineer, and when he got the call that an old Volkswagen Beetle was hanging from Vancouver's best-known bridge, he wasn't amused.
"Pranks create a lot of risk," Galambos says. His first worry was that the car might fall onto a ship. But traffic is the real headache. By 11:30 a.m., two police cruisers have restricted drivers to a single alternating lane, and a boat circles below in case the Beetle falls. According to Canadian law, one cannot drop anything into the harbor, so Galambos's crew can't cut it down, even though the VW weighs only 390 pounds and comes stripped of all glass, engine and undercarriage. Instead, they have to bring in a crane to pull the car up. As the car rises, a hand-painted white "E" becomes visible on its roof. Several crew members roll their eyes in recognition.
"E" stands for "engineers." University of British Columbia engineers. At many campuses, students play a prank or two—steal a rival's mascot or move a roommate's furniture to the quad. But only schools with rich engineering cultures put such awkward objects in such unlikely places. It's a rare chance for engineers to show off their skills in a very public way, so much so that some of the greatest pranks resemble performance art.
UBC isn't the only school known for its merry pranksters. Check out the full roundup of great collegiate capers at popsci.com/prank
Haha, I think its funny that I had just written a comment about how UBC was left out of the other prank article.....
Great inspirational article for people like me, who love to play pranks and think outside the box.
I mean, what's life without the thrill of doing adding fun? We, the next generation, must take back our world!!!
Hint: try buying 100 gift cards, and filling each one with 1 cent. Then use couple pounds of plastic that you just got for $1 and make something useful!
Come on, this "prank" has been done before, get a life guys...also just in case anyone is curious, there planning the same stunt for same time same place next year.
This was an interesting article, but either the editor or the author (or both) need to have their typing fingers rapped. Only in one place in this article did the author get the name of the bridge right. Not every suspention bridge in the world is called Golden Gate. The bridge in the article is the LIONS GATE BRIDGE. To get such a basic fact messed up not only throws the article but the whole site/magazine into disrepute. Not good for an journal that avers the title 'Scientific'.
We know our bridges.
Seamountie -- thanks for calling my article interesting. But on your criticism, you're way off -- my typing digits are fine. This article describes an incident that occurred in Feb., 2008 on the Lion's Gate Bridge. At one point, the article mentions that the same band of merry pranksters pulled off a high-profile stunt in 2001 at the Golden Gate bridge. Nowhere else do we reference the Golden Gate prank. Perhaps you read the article too fast?
PopSci has over a dozen copyeditors and fact-checkers on staff. The editors comb the story in five different stages over three months. The fact checkers call everyone mentioned in the story and read them back the content. Then they call their own secondary sources to double check that work. They called me at 10 pm one night to challenge something I wrote. It's a huge pain in the rear for the writer. But that's probably why there has never been a glaring error that ended up in a PopSci feature I've written (OK, a few wayward commas.) Despite the hassle, it's a great system.
While interviewing this top-secret British Columbia crew, it was hard not to become inspired by their good spirit. They remind me of a quote in an old Tom Robbins book: "Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature."
Does anyone have any questions about standing around on a cold bridge at 4 a.m. waiting for some rowdy college students to drive up?
Hello....the title of your article says that Canadian students hung a car from the Golden Gate Bridge. Ummm... I think you mean the Lion's Gate Bridge!!!!!!! You really should fix this mistake, it really kinda looks bad.
oops, sorry, I too read the article too quickly. it's just that it looks bad to have "Golden Gate Bridge" in the title and then immediately below there is a picture of the Lion's Gate Bridge. But if Canadians indeed hung a car from the Golden Gate Bridge, that's good!!
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