Imagine losing something that your entire academic career depends on...

It happened to one New Jersey student, and their desperate plea for help has gone viral.

A photo of the supposed reward letter has been posted to several social media sites. On Facebook alone the photo was shared nearly 21,000 times and counting.

Robb Young, Facebook

While it hasn't been verified as real, I have no reason to believe otherwise, and honestly, if there's even a microscopic chance of helping this poor student, I'm willing to take that chance. (As an update, I e-mailed the address listed, and he said he appreciates the help, but declined an interview.)

Should you not feel like reading the whole letter, the basic premise is this:

A 5th year Chemistry Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers had his or her laptop stolen. It contains 5-years worth of work, including all of the data for their thesis defense. The student is willing to pay $1000 just for the DATA. Not even to get the laptop back!

Sure, a lot of people thinksthis student is foolish for not backing up such important information in dropboxes, flash drives, or wherever else.

It's also foolish for some clown to steal a computer that doesn't belong to them because they are too lazy to save enough money and buy their own.

I also know that the cost of college itself is insane, but 5 YEARS worth of work is priceless.

The d-bag who stole it should not only return it, but give the student $1000 for causing him a kind of stress and panic I can't imagine.

Hopefully we can spread the word and the laptop will turn up!

(Side note: Should this turn out to be a joke, hoax, and/or some social media class project, well done!)

How much of a reward would you offer if someone stole your computer? Tell us in the comment section below!