By Samantha D’Alonzo

Thanksgiving is a time of giving, graciousness, family, and of course, the never-ending rounds of impersonal, unbelievably tricky to navigate questions from distant relatives: “How’s school?”, “What are you studying?”, and my personal favorite, “Is MIT hard?”. Usually when I am bombarded with such questions at family functions, I provide very banal answers such as, “School’s good,” “I’m studying a lot of different things,” and “Yes, my classes are hard.” These responses are always enough to whet the appetites of my relatives and shift the spotlight over to one of my many cousins. However, this year I suspect my answers will bring a bit more spice to the family dinner table, especially after a phone call I had last week with my grandmother.

My grandmother asked me the aforementioned generic questions about my life, to which I promptly responded, “School is good. I’m actually proving the Pyramids of Giza are fake this semester.” “Well that’s great sweetie!” my grandma exclaimed, as grandmothers do. Then she dropped her voice low, “You mean like they don’t actually exist? It’s a facade? Like a conspiracy theory?”, my 75-year-old grandmother incredulously asked.

This semester, I’ve really enjoyed witnessing the variety of reactions I’ve received, both from my grandmother and my peers, from my brazen, bold, and incredibly cryptic response, “I’m proving the critically acclaimed, exceptionally well-studied Pyramids of Giza are fake in just ten weeks.” To be less vague, when my group says “fake”, we don’t mean that one of the seven wonders of the world is merely an illustrious figment of our imagination. Rather, we mean “fake” as in, it is made with geopolymers, not limestone as traditionally thought (and widely accepted).

 ONE-MA3 group photo from Italy this past Summer

After some initial confusion, I usually explain the actual project to whoever I am talking to. As a lab-based counterpart to ONE-MA3, which included three weeks of fieldwork and cultural immersion in Italy this past summer, I am developing this project in 1.057 with the guidance of Professor Admir Masic.