There is a distinct yin and yang vibe surrounding the two concrete structures on the north patio of the Bio-Medical Center. The eastern stack takes outside air in. The western stack pumps inside air out. Today, we are only concerned with the output stack, whose overhead cover and continuous output of warm air offers refuge from the cold for some, but evokes a sense of danger in others, who believe toxic chemicals from the research center are dispelled through the vents.
Professionally-rendered diagram of air flow.
“I always hold my breath when I walk by there,” says Erik Danie ‘18.
So by basking in a few seconds of warmth, do you run the risk of exposure to hazards such as carcinogens and possibly even byproducts of top-secret biomedical experiments? Or is the exhaust safe to inhale? Or does it even matter?
Phase 1: Unlike the CIT shower investigation, this myth only required one step to solve. We spoke with a representative from facilities who assured us that the air is, in fact, perfectly safe to breathe. All exhaust that escapes the concrete structures—which serve as both fire stairwell egresses and ventilation output—comes from classrooms and meeting rooms in the building. This air is kept separate from the lab ventilation and output from fume hoods, which exits through the top of the building.
Although the idea of easy access to toxic fumes from the biology/medical labs could be appealing to those seeking new freaky superpowers, the only thing remotely dangerous about the air under the western ventilation stack is the second hand smoke coming from the guy standing next to you.
It’s no secret that Brown is full of urban legends. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, you have to admit the Hay’s human skin-bound books are enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies. Granted, you may not be losing any sleep thinking about all the mysteries floating around campus, but where there is a myth, there must be a busting. To ease into this series without any explosions or having to step on the Pembroke Seal, BlogDH investigated the question plaguing CS students for years: is there a shower in the CIT?
Phase 1: Field research began in the Sunlab, where we first got an anonymous tip about “the shower upstairs.” Immediately there were so many questions: Is the notion of CSers living in the CIT more than hyperbolic? Who has access to this VIP shower? Is there also an accompanying gym in the CIT? Do I have to put a shower in TASafeHouse?
Phase 2: We began asking around, and started with the TAs. Either they had no idea about the shower’s existence or they lied to protect its exclusivity. It was clear we would have to go higher up in the CS food chain, so we went straight to the top–Google. Consulting Google about the shower will get you confirmation of its whereabouts from the Brown Daily Herald and, explicably, Andy van Dam’s Wikipedia page.
Phase 3: To find the shower, we needed a key-holding member of the CS society to get to the fourth floor, plus a personal tour-guide to navigate us through the labyrinth. After minutes of searching, there it was: the CIT shower in all its glory and absurdity. Phase 4: The shower-head was still dripping and it smelt like Irish Spring Soap–how recently did someone use this?While it was certainly not the day-spa we had hoped for, the water pressure must be good enough to keep people coming back. The room comes equipped with a little hand-held mirror, a chair, a drying rack, and whatever the hell this sign means. So, yeah: This myth is confirmed. As a humanities concentrator, I would recommend going to the CIT for free food before the free shower, but hey, any shower is better than none.
Images via Albie Brown ’16, Julia Elia ’17 and via.