Every year over hundreds of inventions were introduce, although a small fraction of it end up changing the way we live. Even smaller of this fraction changes the life of its inventors and by that I mean death. Here are 10 Inventors killed by their inventions.
10. Franz Reichelt
Franz Reichelt was a tailor, inventor and parachuting pioneer, who was also known as the flying tailor. He is remembered for jumping to his death at the age of only 33 from the Eiffel Tower. Reichelt wanted to invent a parachute for aviators in an event they fall while flying an aircraft. His first few experiments using dummies falling from the fifth floor was a success although it failed his designs later on. With the desire to test his parachute from the Eiffel Tower, he petitioned for permission which was granted in 1912. He assured the police force he was going to use dummies for his test, but at the first platform of the Eiffel Tower (About 57 m) he did not have a dummy with and has been planning to do the test himself. He was pronounce dead at the scene with a fractured skull and spine. Instead of being recognized as an aviation pioneer, he was remembered as a reckless and foolish inventor. It was said that the fault was not with the design but rather it was with the height of the drop which was not high enough.
09. Ismail ibn Hammad al-Jawhari
10th Century Islamic scholar, Ismail ibn Hamma al-Jawhari, has been recognized for a notable Arabic dictionary titles al-Sihah fi al-Lugha which translates to ‘The Correct Language’. He was also infamously known for his death which involves wooden wings and a rope. Ismail was said to be inspired by a glider flight invented by Abbas ibn Firman, he then became interested in aeronautical engineering. In an attempt to impress the Iman, Ismail invented wooden wings with wood and ropes, and then jump from the top of a mosque. Spoiler! He did not fly rather he splat onto the ground and died. Safe to say, being linguistically gifted does not also make you an aeronautical engineer genius. Ismail did not become an aviation pioneer but he was the first known person to attempt a human flight.
08. Alexander Bogdanov
Soviet physician, philosopher and science fiction writer, Alexander Bogdanov tried to make himself immortal but ended up killing himself. Bogdanov was a well-known name in the soviet union at that time as he was a communist. After the October revolutionary, Bogdanov turned away from communism to pursue other things, one of which is his medical work. He became interested in hematology. Shortly after his release from prison, Bogdanov started a blood tranfusion experiment in hopes it would make him youthful eternally or at the very least rejuvenate him. With a group of young volunteers, he undergo 11 blood transfusion and the results were great. It was reported his eyesight were better, a suspension of balding and he was told he look 10 years younger. It could also possibly just be a placebo effect. A later tranfusion cost him his life when he took blood from a student of his institute who was at that time suffering from malaria and tubercolosis. Remarkably, the student made a complete recovery from that tranfusion of Bodagnov blood. Speculations says it was a suicide attempt while others blame it on the incompatibility of blood type, one which was not heavily researched on at that time.
07. Michael Robert Darce
Possibly changing the way we travel, Michael Darce, founder of AVCEN limited, came up with the idea of a faster and more convenient way of travelling. Darce invented the flying taxi, very much like how we pictured the future to be, with robots and flying cars. Named the AVCEN Jetpod, it was able to carry up to 8 passengers with a maximum speed of up to 550 km/h. Also, it only requires 125 meters for take off, while an average airplane would require about 1,800 meters for take of. Completed on 16 August 2009, the Jetpod prototype was taken for a test drive where it crashed killing inventor of the Jetpod and founder of AVCEN limited. It was said only after the fourth attempt did the device successfully lifted on which then stalled, crashes and burst into flames shortly after take off. If third time is not the charm something is not right! Hopefully, someone would take on Darce flying taxi project, in hopes it would be a life changing idea.
06. William Bullock
William Bullock, an american inventor, changed the way we print paper by improving a Richard Hoe invention of a printing press. From using flat surface to transfer ink onto paper to cylinders. This improves the numbers of paper printed out from 400 sheets per hour to 1000 to 4000 sheets per hours. He then made another change which saves time further by continuously supplying paper to the rotary without manually having to feed it a single sheet at a time. This increase the numbers of sheet printed out to 12,000 sheets per hour. In 1867, while he was making mechanical adjustment to his machinery, by kicking a driving belt onto a pulley, his leg was caught and crush. It then developed gangrene which requires amputation to prevent spread to other parts of the body. During surgery to amputate his leg, Bullock died due to complications. However, he left us an amazing device still used widely today.
05. Karel Soucek
Also dubbed the Niagara Daredevil, this 37 year old Canadian professional stuntman invented a barrel, yes a barrel of which would be drop 180 feet above the floor into a water tank. Given his job scope, Soucek has done a number of dangerous stunt, some of which was life threatening. Stunts include jumping motorcycles over cars and crossing the Whirlpool Rapids while on a small motorcycle across a cable. While crossing the Whirlpool Rapids, Soucek’s motorcycle hit a bolt on the cable which almost cost him his life if not for safety harness. On January 1985, Soucek was enclosed in his barrel, to be dropped 180 feet above the ground from the top of Houston Astrodome into a water tank in front of a live audience. Despite words of dissuasion by famous stuntman, Evel Knieval, Soucek carried on with his stunt. The barrel was released prematurely which caused it to tumble hitting the rim of the tank and into the water instead of the center of the tank as planned. Foam pad to cushion Soucek fall was seen floating to the surface. He was retrieved from the barrel alived with severe injuries but died shortly after.
04. Horace Lawson Hunley
During the American Civil War, Hunley served as a Confederate marine engineer. Before that, he was a lawyer which he abandoned to pursue his passion in engineering. Along with a small group of officers, they build a prototype iron torpedo boat or submarine, the Pioneer. The Pioneer was later destroyed when New Orleans fell to federal Union Army. Later on, Horace funded and build his own submarine named H. L. Hunley which suddenly sank during a test run as she was being pushed off before it was able to submerged. Fortunately for Horace, he was observing from shore as 5 out of the 8 submariners were killed. Horace relaunched the H. L. Hunley a few months later, which did also sank this time with Horace on board along with the other 7 submariners who were all killed in the incident. As if the submarine sinking twice was not enough, a third Hunley was introduced to chase after an enemy ship, USS Housatonic to ram and explode it. The explosion from the enemy did had an impact on the Hunley which sank along with the Housatonic, killing all 8 members on board.
03. Max Valier
Austrian rocketry pioneer Max Valier, was the co-founder of a Germans spaceflight society, Verein für Raumschiffahrt. Along with Fritz Von Opel, they worked on a number of rocket-powered car and aircraft, which Valier hopes would popularized rocketry among the population. Valier obssession with rocketry first came from a German book, which translates to ‘By Rocket into Interplanetary Space’ by Herman Oberth, one of the founder of modern rocketry. At the age of 35, Valier was experimenting on an alcohol-fueled rocket engine, where fuel and oxidizer mixed and lit with a blowtorch. Without regard for his safety, he took no safety precautions such as goggles or fire-retardant clothing with himself face completely exposed to the possibility of hazardous events. One day while testing using kerosene mixed with water in conduction with liquid oxygen, after two successful attempts, his excitement got the better of him as he went on to go for a third attempt which unfortunately caused the chamber to explode and small pieces pierced his aorta killing him instantly. Valier hard work did not die with him as it allow us to acheive many feats such as carrying man to the moon
02. Marie Curie
Best known for her work in radioactivity, Marie Curie was well decorated with two Nobel prize in Physics & Chemistry in the year 1903 & 1911 respectively.
On top of that, she was the first woman to win the Nobel prize and to win it in two different fields. Along with her husband, Pierre Curie, they discovered radioactive elements, Polonium and Radium. After her husband death, she went on to further develop the X-Ray which she would then go on to invent a portable X-ray to be used during World War I. Curie had a price to pay for her fame from the discovery of radioactivity, as she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, the deficiency of all blood cells due to failure of bone marrow development. Aplastic anemia can be caused by prolonged exposure to radiation, which would be the most likely reason in Curie case. She eventually died in July 4, 1934 at the age of 66. Despite her work causing her life, she definitely made an impact towards the world. Apart from Marie Curie, Chemist, Sabin Arnold von Sochocky, also died from aplastic anemia due to prolonged exposure to radiation from his invention, a radium-based luminescent paint.
01. Otto Lilienthal
Known as ‘The Flying Man’, Otto Lilienthal was a German aviation pioneer and the first person to make repeated successful flight attempt as much as 2000 flights with unpowered airplanes until his death at the age of 48. His flight was as far as 250 metres, which at that time was an impressive feat. Inspired by the idea of manned flight, Lilienthal made strap on wings which failed. However, during his flying career, along with his brother Gustav Lilienthal, they made models of monoplanes, wing flapping aircraft and two biplanes. On 9 August 1896, he tested his normal glider on Rhinnow Hills, where his first three flight were successful attempt. However, his fourth flight proved to be his final flight as he plummeted to his death while 15 metres up. The reason to this was because the glider relies majorly on weight shift, when the glider pitched forward, it causes the glider to rocket down and Lilienthal was unable to recover to its position in time. He was then rushed to the hospital where he died due to a broken neck the next day. His finals words (to his brother) were in German, ‘Opfer müssen gebracht werden’ which translates to ‘Sacrifices must be made’. Despite a short flying career, his work became a major inspiration to the Wright brothers, inventors of the first successful airplane, changing the way we travel.
So, these are 10 inventors killed by their own inventions. From just plain recklessness and foolishness to life changing inventions, some deaths made an impact to the world we live in and some made an impact towards the headline.