~ It was announced today, Friday 2/18/05, in Los Angeles, that Samuel Alderson has died at the are of 90. Sandy, as was known, had worked with top scientists and physicists with the development of the Atomic Bomb. However, this is not for what he will be most remembered. Mr. Alderson was the inventor of the Crash Test Dummy. His work began designing test dummies for use in ejection seats for the new jet planes after World War II. The automotive industry was quick to call upon him to create crash dummies for their car safety tests.
~ It must have been a curious sight to the residents of Los Angeles when several hundred off-duty crash dummies showed up to pay their respects to their creator. Appropriately, one of them played Funeral March of the Marionettes,
also known as the theme to TV's "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Although not a test dummy himself, but recognized in a splinter group as a cousin, the eulogy was given by Pinnochio.
~ Alderson's lineage could be traced back to ancient Greece. An ancestor was credited with building the famed Trojan Horse. Intended to be the equivalent of today's SUV, it was seized by the Grecian military and converted into a troop carrier for use in their war with Troy.
~ Prior to using his dummies, the automotive industry had actually used corpses. These, however, proved to be ineffective as they did not mimic the living human body in an accident. Also there had been an outcry over the use of corpses by the Cadavers Civil Liberties Union, the CCLU. An urban legend persists to this day that actual footage of a protest march by the corpses was used in the cult film "Night of the Living Dead."
~ His design for the crash dummies, revolutionized automobile safety practices, effectively putting cadavers out of work. His dummies were human-like and could be articulated into the same positions as real humans. With the aid of sensors linked to computers, the crash experts were able to trace and record every movement of the body in high speed collisions.
~ It wasn't long before protests were heard regarding the welfare of the dummies. The protesters specifically cited the use of dummy children. Perhaps spurred by Jerry Falwell and his ilk, the dummies organized forming the powerful DUH Union. Dummies United in Hope brought about changes that not only protected themselves, but were also applicable to human use and safety. Products of their efforts included seat belts and shoulder straps. A collective bargaining agreement with the automakers resulted in the air bag.
~ Over the years, protest and rights' groups fought for further benefits and protection for the dummies. Women's groups threw out the fact that were few women dummies in the work force. Decency groups lashed out about the open nudity of the crash test dummies. The nudity issue was quashed by the dummies themselves, noting the fact that they were not anatomically correct, having no organs whatsoever. It was dummies who raised concerns over the use of spare body parts. Their arguments mirroring those of their human counterparts' issues with cloning and stem cell research. Then there was the sticky matter over the simplified self help books that were flooding the market, for example "Windows For Dummies." There is continuing litigation concerning this issue. The only other possible controversy involving the crash test dummies occurred when a traffic cop questioned why the dummies were not required to have drivers licenses.
~ Humanity owes a lot to our mannequin test friends. No greater tribute was paid them, than that of a rock band that adopted the name "The Crash Test Dummies."
To see how another dummy crashes, put on your seatbelt and drive over to: