10 Sad Stories Of Inventors Who Were Killed By Their Inventions

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Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the pursuit to make life better made us have brilliant inventors whose inventions have made life easy and interesting. Sadly however, some died even in the hands of what they created. Below is a list of 10 of such people.

1. Marie Curie:

Marie Curie
Photo Credit: wskg.org

Marie Curie was a French-Polish physicist and chemist who was famous for discovering new elements including radium and polonium. In 1903, she was the joint winner of the Nobel Prize along with her husband Pierre. In June 1934, she died from aplastic anaemia, contracted due to unprotected exposure from radiation. During those days, the dangerous effects of ionizing radiation was not yet known, and much of her works were carried out in a shed without any safety measures. She had carried radioactive isotopes in her pocket and stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the pretty blue-grren light that the substances gave off in the surrounding darkness.

2. Otto Lilientel:

Reputed as one of the pionners of avaiation; he was the first person to make series of successful giding flights. On a flight on the 9th August 1896, Liliental fell 17 meters, breaking his spine. He died the next day. His final words were “Small sacrifices must be made” Few years later, the first successful flight was made by the Wright brothers.

3. William Bullock:

This man was an American inventor whose 1863 invention of the rotary printing press helped revolutionize the printing industry due to its speed and efficiency. However, he died whole repairing one of his printing presses as his foot crushed under one of the machines while trying to kick a pulley to its place. His foot became gangrenous, and Bullock died during an operation to amputate his foot.

4. John Godfry Parry-Thomas:

He was a Welsh motor racing driver and Engineer. He wanted to break the land speed record already set by one Malcolm Campbell, and set about creating a car to achieve it. He succeeded in developing a car, he named Babs, which had many modifications, such as an exposed chains connecting the wheels to the engines. On the 27th of April 1926, Parry-Thomas broke the existing record. The record stood for a year, before Malcolm Campbell broke it in 1927. In his attempt to reclaim his record, one of the chains snapped, flew and fell on his neck, partially decapitating him. He died instantly.

5. Thomas Midgely:

Thomas Midgley was an American chemist who invented both leaded petrol and CFCs. Though highly praised during his time, he has come to be known as having “had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth history” and “the one human responsible for more deaths than any other in history” due to his inventions. He later contracted Polio and lead poisoning and was left disabled on his bed. This motivated him to create a system of pulleys and ropes in order to lift himself from the bed. He sadly died at the age of 55 after being strangled by one of his pulleys.

6. Franz Reichelt:

He was an Austrian tailor who was famous for creating a strange overcoat/parachute hybrid that he claimed could sail its wearer gently to the ground or even to fly. He conducted his experiment from the first deck of the Eiffel Tower, and in front of a group of spectators and a camera crew, he proceeded to fall straight down. He died immediately from the impact.

7. Henry Winstanley:

He was a famous English who was known to be a lighthouse architect and engineer who constructed the first Eddystone lighthouse. Winstanley wished to test the lighthouse’s strength and so demanded to be inside it during a storm. The lighthouse collapsed, killing Winstanley and five other people.

8. Alexander Bogdanov:

He was a noted Russian physician, philosopher, economist, science fiction writer and revolutionary. One of his many scientific experiments involved ideas of possible rejuvenation through blood transfusion. Having in the past, given blood transfusions to many notable people including his sister, Bogdanov decided to give himself a transfusion of blood from one of his patients who suffered malaria and tuberculosis. He died from the infections shortly after.

9. Cowper Phipps Coles:

He was a distinguished Royal Navy Captain who invented a rotating turret for ships in the height of the Crimean War. When the war ended, Coles patented his invention and set about building his own ship using this revolutionary design, having seen it adapted for other Royal Navy ships. His ship HMS captain, required several unusual and dangerous modifications however, including a so called “hurricane deck” which raised the ship’s centre of gravity. On the 6th of September 1870, the HMS Captain capsized, killing Coles and most of its 500 person crew.

10. Karek Soucek:

He was a Canadian stuntman famous for inventing a “capsule” (just a modified barrel) and riding down the Niagara Falls in it. He survived, although suffered some injuries.

In1985, he convinced a company to finance a barrel drop from the top of the Houston Astrodome in Texas. A special waterfall was created at the top of the 180ft structure, with a plunge pit at the bottom. However, the stunt went wrong, and Soucek hit the rim of the pool instead of the centre, causing the capsule to splinter severely injuring him. He died the next day. His capsule is on display at the New York State Museum.

About Jayamma Abanobi

Jayamma Abanobi is a youth blogger passionate about writing. He can be reached via email abanobijay@gmail.com

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