Dec

13

The War on Tunnels: An Update

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A Bwog daily editor reports on a distressing development in the world of tunneling:


A year ago, your correspondent made a bid for tunneling immortality. With sharpie in hand, I went in search of the Columbia tunnel system’s holy grail–a Manhattan Project-era cyclotron rumored to be somewhere in the upper campus tunnel system.

It turns out that while the ‘tron was in fact accessible from the tunnels (by way of an unnecessarily complicated although perhaps more adventurous process where you have to follow a tunnel under Mudd and hop over a wall…there was a great description on the old CU tunnels Wiki, which has mysteriously been taken offline), the thing itself resided on the first floor of Pupin–which is totally locked, unless you feel like going to the Pupin 1 men’s room and negotiating the crawlspace between this heating duct and the ceiling.

So negotiate it I did. And what I found, readers, after squeezing myself between a couple of water conduits and dropping into a dank and long-abandoned janitor’s closet, was a dungeon-like hallway of empty offices and industrial apparata–interesting, but hardly worth the Mission Impossible-like maneuver it took to get there. But an early-decade cleanup of rooms that had gone virtually untouched since the Manhattan project thankfully spared the building’s main attraction (for tunnelers, at least): a single room containing a scattered mess of papers and scientific instruments, in the back left-hand corner of which sat a true piece of Columbia lore: the hulking, oblong outer shell of the cyclotron.

But this adventure is now all but impossible. On a recent visit to Pupin 1 (to use the men’s room, actually), I found that a construction company had moved into the once-abandoned hallway; painting over the generations of tunneler grafitto, and occupying an empty office adjacent to the cyclotron room. It’s hard to say if this is a short-term headquarters for the
new science building at 120th and Broadway, or if the first floor is to be completely gutted and converted into usable space. From the looks of it, Turner hasn’t moved in on the cyclotron‘s territory, but that’s likely not important to adventurous Columbians: with people now working in Pupin 1, it looks like the ‘tron is off-limits, and that a uniquely Columbian tradition will have to be put on hold.

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8 Comments

  1. ...

    Alright...... Why didn't you take a picture of the cycletron itself???

    How can I believe you unless you want me to take a leap of faith?

  2. Pupin

    I believe that they're turning the first floor into lab space. And I thought that many of the papers and instruments had been removed when the Department of Energy cleaned up the space years ago. It's a shame, really. It would make for a nice mini-museum.

    • They were there  

      Two years ago when I was down there. Several rooms were full of random (what I assumed was) 1940's era spectrometers and the like, and, oddly enough, 1970's Spectator issues. There's also one weird room with a gigantic hole in the floor covered up by a door right now.

  3. this...  

    is a really cool article.

    that said, i thought i went to great lengths to procrastinate during fuckall week. this is a whole new level!

  4. ...  

    They haven't touched the Cyclotron, and the first floor is still totally deserted at night. Now when you visit the Cyclotron not only do you get a look at some history, but if you walk all the way down the hall, Turner opened up a door from Pupin right into the giant hole that will one day be the Northwest
    Science building, so you get to see that too.

  5. Alum

    Why has so much space been allowed to sit unused for so many years? Surely it could have been used productively somehow.

    It's hard enough to understand why a floor of Lerner is empty, but at least the beureaucratic quagmire explains (without excusing) the problem. There shouldn't be a similar issue in Pupin.

  6. it has

    been a while since they've cleared out the first floor, since around fall 2003. before then, there were just rooms and rooms of shit down there. it was basically abandoned.

    they also had like all the seas applications ever in the basement of mudd until about a year ago. i found an application from a guy who was class of '55 down there.

  7. prezbo  

    Goddamn Quigs! I told him to dispose of the applications properly. I guess he is only useful at senior dinner...

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