When Chris Met Fred

The Back Story

1 min read

Photographer Chris Mueller has had a few characters show up at his door in New York City. But none quite like Fred.

Fred is a crash-test dummy—and not just any crash-test dummy. He’s a Hybrid-III adult male model, with half of his vinyl flesh removed to show off his sensor-packed steel skeleton. He was in town to be photographed for this issue’s ”Anatomy of a Crash-Test Dummy.”

Fred, whose home is at the headquarters of dummy maker Denton ATD, in Rochester Hills, Mich., has been to trade shows all over the world. He normally travels by truck, but he’s also traveled by car, sitting next to the driver, and once Denton bought him a seat on a flight to Europe.

This was Fred’s first trip to New York, and he was delivered to Mueller in a refrigerator-size crate. ”It was giant,” says Mueller, who has photographed airliners, racing cars, human brains, and NASA engineers, but never dummies. How to get the thing to his studio, 10 blocks north, where the photo shoot was to take place?

”I opened the crate, put Fred on a hand truck, and rolled down the street with him,” he says. ”I covered him with a black canvas, and people kept looking over, catching glimpses of Fred.”

At the photo session Fred proved very easy to work with. ”He just listened and did what he was told,” says Mueller, who after the shoot was off to an assignment in California. As for Fred, he was ready to go home, back to his Hybrid-III female companion, Frida.

The Conversation (0)

The Great Ventilator Rush

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, engineers launched extraordinary crash programs that produced scores of ventilator designs. What will happen to them now?

14 min read
Not Rocket Science: Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built a working ventilator prototype in a 37-day period spanning the months of March and April 2020.
Photo: JPL-Caltech/NASA

The projections were horrifying. Experts were forecasting upwards of 100 million people in the United States infected with the novel coronavirus, with 2 percent needing intensive care, and half of those requiring the use of medical ventilators.

In early March, it seemed as if the United States might need a million ventilators to cope with COVID-19—six times as many as hospitals had at the time. The federal government launched a crash purchasing program for 200,000 of the complex devices, but they would take months to arrive and cost tens of thousands of dollars each.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less