Many inventions we enjoy today resulted from years of painstaking labor, tests, and failures. Unfortunately, some backfired, causing catastrophic consequences and even death.
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Thomas Midgley Jr.
Thomas Midgey Jr. is responsible for introducing leaded gasoline and CFCs, with many remembering him as “the most harmful inventor in history.” He contracted polio in 1940, which left him paralyzed, so he invented a device to lift and move his body, only to be found strangled by it.
This is a sad tale of a French tailor who dreamed of making a parachute suit. “He died when he decided to prove his invention was okay by jumping off the Eiffel Tower,” explains a poster. A century later, Franz Reichelt is remembered as the Flying Tailor.
Horace Lawson Hunley was among the first inventors of hand-powered submarines, including the CSS Hunley. Sadly, he died on October 15, 1863, when the submarine sank during a routine exercise, killing Horace Hunley and seven crew members.
This Austrian physicist was a pioneer in rocketry, having discovered liquid-fueled rocket engines. Unfortunately, he died when he “tried using alcohol-based fuel for rockets (and) it blew up in his lab, killing him.”
Maria Curie invented the theory of radioactivity when “she discovered Polonium and Radium.” Unfortunately, researchers were unaware of radioactivity exposure then and “used little protection.”
Marie Curie died in 1934 from aplastic anemia caused by intense radiation exposure. Her body, research notes, and many of her belongings are still radioactive.
Luis Jimenez was a sculptor who died when a piece fell off a sculpture he was working on (known as Mustang, although people call it Blucifer) and “severed an artery in his leg, and he bled out.”
Luis’ sons completed the 32-foot high blue Mustang and had it installed at the Denver International Airport.
Sheikh Ismail Sheikh Ibrahim
This 24-year-old inventor leaned on YouTube videos to build a DIY helicopter. While conducting a final test run, a piece of a broken blade hit Ibrahim’s throat. The inventor was rushed to the hospital but did not make it.
This Canadian physicist and chemist “accidentally started a nuclear reaction during a nuclear critical demonstration and zapped himself with a lethal dose of radiation.” He died nine days after the exposure.
“Some ancient Greek dude (Perilaus) created a torture device called the Brazen Bull. It’s just a large metal husk shaped like a bull where you put a victim inside and heat the bottom….The inventor showed a king (King Phalaris) his contraption. The king was delighted by it and decided to test it out on the inventor,” narrates a user.
Another version of Perilaus’ death explains the king took him out of the Brazen Bull but had him pushed off a hill to his death.
Stockton Rush is the latest inventor killed by his own invention. He oversaw the construction of the Titan submersible that would transport tourists to see the Titanic wreckage. Unfortunately, the Titan imploded during a dive in June 2023, killing him and four others.
This African-American physician is accredited for contributing to blood plasma preservation, which helped advance blood transfusions.
One day, however, “he fell asleep on the wheel and lost lots of blood during the automobile accident. Since he was black, racists Jim Crow Era laws in America denied him the right to lifesaving blood transfusion that he invented to save his life,” details a poster.
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