Science: Warm-Blooded Robot

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To find out how long a flying suit will keep an aviator from freezing, human models often have to sit hour after hour in a cold chamber at 60° below zero. Candidates for this sort of work are naturally somewhat hard to find. And, because human models vary in resistance to cold, they are not very satisfactory anyway.

Last week, at a Manhattan show, General Electric showed how to supply the demand: a ''Copper Man" so cunningly contrived that it gets hot & cold just like a human being. This copperplated robot has a network of electric wires which, like a human being's blood system, keeps its skin at body temperature. Its life-size frame, painted black, radiates the equivalent of body heat, and the temperature of various parts of its body can be regulated to duplicate any human condition; e.g., cold feet.

At Wright Field, where one model is already at work, the robot sits in a cold chamber wearing test garments. Researchers, in a warm adjoining room, read its reactions by means of instruments. With the Copper Man as a guinea pig, they have developed lightweight, electrically warmed suits in which a human being can be comfortable at temperatures ranging from 60° below zero to 60° above.