Snow in 2nd Floor Showers (1968)

Snow in Baker Fools Nation
The Tech (Fri jan 12 1968)

By Mark Bolotin

“In the second floor shower rooms at Baker House, they threw the windows wide open and turned the hot showers on fuLl blast. From the showers poured a thick plume of steam. From the open windows came a below-zero icy blast. The experiment was designed to determine what happens when one meets the other.”

So claimed Tuesday's edition of the -Boston Herald-Traveler, which fell for a hoax perpetrated by Baker residents. The front-page- story, with accompanying picture, concluded that “Steam + Icy Air = Snow.”

Snow did exist

In reality, there was a considerable amount of snow on the floor of the john, although certainly not the six inches claimed by the Herald-Traveler. Despite the claims of the paper, the snow was not artificially created by the students; it was merely brought in from outside to build a snowman. Unfortunately, the snow was too dry to pack, so the showers were turned on very hot. (It is true that warm water will soften snow enough to make it packable–no hoax.)

However, with the hot showers on, it became necessary to open a window to cool the room off. Suddenly, the room was filled with fog, caused by cold air meeting steam. One member of the crowd decided that this fantastic effect would be the basis for a great hack–a claim that they had created snow.

The newspaper–and most of Boston–fell for it. The paper finally realized that it had been fooled, when besieged with complaints. Nobody else was able to obtain snow by this method.

Latest responses to the hoax took two extremes. The most common reaction was the reply of one MIT student: “Anybody knows that if you mix hot water and cold air, the only thing you'll get is a cold shower.” Nevertheless, one perpetrator of the hoax hoped that they might really be able to create snow. If the room is cold enough and with the right type nozzle on the shower…

Photo courtesy of Herald Traveler

Students on the second floor of Baker House outfoxed the Boston Herald Traveler when they carried snow into a shower room, then persuaded the reporter that it was artificial.

Story carried by papers from Jersey to Georgia

News of the supposed creation of snow in Baker House spread far beyond Boston. The news story was picked up by the Associated Press wire service and carried to newspapers and televisions across the nation.

It has been verified that the story was reported in newspapers in Georgia and New Jersey. Television stations in Atlanta, Ga., also presented the story.

According to Mark Rockoff '69, a Baker resident who helped organize the hoax, parents of several other Bakerites called Cambridge to report that local papers carried the story. He added it is likely that the story crossed the country, but that not all reports of its coverage have reached Cambridge.

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