Scan Man

Dec 29, 2011 No Comments by

We’ve all heard of the Smithsonian. What we may not know is that it is filled with 137 million objects. Now, that’s something! Another unknown might be Bruno Frohlich. He is “the scan man.” You heard me. He scans everything! Ancient stringed instruments, dinosaur bones, spacesuits, fossilized teeth, you name it, he scans it. It helps that Siemens Corporation has donated two, medical CT scanners (a combined worth of over $500,000) to assist Frohlich.

Who knew these hospital scanners, when used in a museum setting, could reveal things like “what appears to be a small mummy of a sacred kitten is, in fact, hollow—a 2,500-year-old-Egyptian con job” or other cool stuff. Anthropology degree program, anyone? How about a Humanities degree? Frohlich, when he isn’t holed up late at night in the Smithsonian scanning and enjoying “the solitude of it,” travels around the world as a forensic anthropologist solving ancient mysteries whether in Mongolia or Alaska.

Then, there’s his other job in Vermont where he assists the state police in solving modern day homicides. His favorite job, however, involves non-destructive science through the use of these scanners which do not require cutting or mutilating ancient objects. Talk about a man who is passionate about his career.

Because X-rays can bounce off of hard of hard targets, Frohlich often sticks around into the wee hours of the night to scan when no one is there. This way, people are not exposed to even small doses of radiation. He happily sits within eyeshot of the CT machines, his dosimeter attached to his shirt which measures radiation exposure, and watches the screen with its 3D images. His workdays ‘keep going; they are 24 hours’ yet he thoroughly enjoys himself.

Next time you are at The Smithsonian Institution, glance around. Along with the mummies, human skulls, and guitars, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a sixty-something man with a grin on his face. Most likely, it’s Frohlich and he’s probably headed upstairs to the lab.

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