20 Inventions That Killed Their Creator

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Inventions have helped make our lives so much more comfortable, but unknown to most is that some inventors have sacrificed a lot for their work – even their lives. Here are 20 of the most famous examples.

20 – Thomas Midgley Jr

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  • Midgley, an American chemist who invented leaded petrol
  • People loved this guy when he was alive, everyone uses petrol, but he was also voted the single biggest organism to cause damage to the atmosphere in Earth’s history
  • He eventually contracted Polio and lead poisoning, leaving his basically crippled
  • He invented a series of pulleys and ropes to lift himself out of bed, but it was these that killed him
  • At 55 years of age, a pulley suffocated Thomas and killed him, ironic that 2 of his own inventions caused his early death

19 – Henry Smolinski

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  • 1973, Henry was a Northrop-trained engineer who started his company Advanced Vehicle Engineers, their mission, to bring the flying car to life
  • They built their first couple of prototypes out of airplane parts glued on the back of a Ford Pinto
  • However, on September 11 of that year, during a test flight a wing strut detached from the car and killed Henry along with his assistant Blake
  • The cause: bad welding

18 – William Bullock

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  • A common horror story, getting your limbed trapped in a rotary printing press
  • It’s creator, William, couldn’t escape the same nightmare
  • He tried to kick a driving belt onto one of the pulleys, but it caught his leg, swallowed and crushed it
  • He survived, but 9 days later during an operation to amputate from remained of the gangrenous-infected leg, he died on the table

17 – Horace Lawson Hunley

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  • 1862, Horace was a full-time lawyer, part-time submarine lover
  • It was he that designed and built 3 different models of subs for the Confederacy during the Civil War, but it was that third that stopped him from designing more
  • The first two sunk, and the 3rd also sunk but this time with Horace inside it, ironic since the sub also carried his name
  • It was recovered from the sea floor and went on to house another crew but, once again, sank to the bottom of the sea

16 – Franz Reichelt, the Parachute Suit

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  • February 4th, 1912, Franz the Austrian-born French tailor decides to test his suit by jumping off the Eiffel Tower despite the protests of his friends and audience
  • He jumped off the first platform, the parachute failed to deploy and he, of course, fell to his death
  • It was designed to be used by pilots in escaping damaged planes, but instead it ended up a crumple bloody mess at the foot of the Eiffel tower

15 – Michael Dacre

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  • A recent one, 2009, it was August 16th when Michael, a British aviation pioneer and director of the company Avcen Ltd, performed his first test flight in a so called “flying-taxi” designed to transport people across long distances at minimal cost
  • But during the flight above the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, the taxi plumeted to Earth and exploded in Michael’s face, ending his life

14 – Marie Curie

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  • 1934, Marie was a physicist best known for her work in radioactivity
  • She scored herself 2 nobel prizes for discovering the elements radium and polonium, a big deal since she’s one of 2 people, ever, to win multiple nobel prizes
  • Inevitably though, her work in the field of radiation also led to her death – too late she discovered the harmful and lethal effect radioactivity can have on a person
  • She died July 4th 1934, from aplastic anemia caused by radiation exposure

13 – Otto Lilienthal, the Hand Glider

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  • August 10th, 1896, Otto a German aviation pioneer was busy testing his gliders in the hills of Germany
  • It was on his last flight that his fabled Glider stalled, and he fell 50 ft straight to the ground, but he didn’t die instantly, no, he suffered from a fractured cervical vertebra, fell unconcious and 36 hours later he died

12 – J.G Parry-Thomas

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  • 1926, J.G was a Welsh motor-racing driver and also an engineer
  • His goal: to break the land speed record set by Malcolm Campbell, and to do that he needed to build a racing car
  • He called it Babs, and on April 27th he beat that record, and held it for an entire year
  • Malcolm took it back, so J.G set about beating his record again
  • However, this time, a chain snapped off the car and partially decapitated J.G, killing him instantly in one of the fastest cars ever

11 – Karel Soucek

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  • 1984, Czechoslovakian stuntman Soucek went over Niagra Falls in a shock-absorbent barrel
  • He survived, cut and bleeding, but alive, so he decided to house a museum dedicated to showing off his stunt equipment
  • To finance it, he convinced a company to sponser another stunt, to fall from the Houston Astrodome in another barrel
  • People tried to talk him out of it, but he paid no attention, the barrel spun dangerously and crushed Soucek to death upon landing

10 – Sylvester H. Roper

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  • 1896, Roper, inventor of the original motorcycle along with the earliest carriage known to man built in 1863
  • It was during his ride on one of his own steam velocipede motorbikes that he died, the cause? Heart attack, but it’s unknown whether the heart attack was caused by his falling off the bike, or it was simple heart failure

9 – Wan Hu

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  • During the 16th century, Wan was a minor Chinese official in the Ming Dynasty
  • At the time, China was building advanced rocket and firework technology, and Wan decided to sit on a chair made of these to launch himself into outer space, yes, that’s right, he built a rocket chair
  • 47 servants lit fuses, there was colossal explosion and, when the smoke cleared, Wan was gone
  • Dead, of course, even if he somehow reached outer space

8 – Perillos of Athens

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  • This is one guy who might’ve actually deserved to die
  • Perillos invented the hollow bull, a type of torture contraption designed to swallow a person, have fires lit underneath and slowly burn the victim to death, making it look as though the bull were breathing smoke
  • Perillos pitched the invention to a Tyrant lord of Acragas of Siciliy, and Perillos was stuffed into the bull and burnt alive

7 – Cowper Phipps Coles

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  • 1870, Cowper was a big-shot in the Royal Navy, a Captain, and he invented rotating turrets for ships during the Crimean War
  • Following the war he decided to do his own thing and build his own ships using the same revolutionary design
  • He included a few dangerous additions though, including a “hurricane” deck, one that raised the ship’s centre of gravity
  • Then, on the 6th of September, his ship capsized killing both Cowper and his 500 person crew

6 – Valerian Abakovsky

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  • 1921, Abakovsky was 25 years old when he designed the Aerowagon, a fast railcar equipped with an aircraft engine and propellor – a sort of taxi for the Soviet officials to ferry them to and from Moscow
  • July 24th, a small group of communists along with Abakovsky, engaged the Aerowagon in a test run to Tula from Moscow, and managed it, but on the way back derailed and killing everyone aboard

5 – Alexander Bogdanov

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  • 1924, blood transfusions – originally he hoped to attain eternal youth or at least regeneration of the cells
  • He performed a large number of transfusions on himself, and while it improved his eyesight, eventually he accidentally transfused himself with the blood of someone suffering from malaria and tuberculosis, killing him soon after

4 – Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier

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  • 1785, Rozier a French chemistry and physics teacher, as well as a pioneer in the field of aviation, built an air balloon known as the Roziere balloon when it suddenly deflated
  • It crashed in Pas-de-calais when he attempted to fly it over the English Channel
  • Only he and his friend Pierre Romain died, but they became the first fatalities of an air crash ever

3 – Henry Winstanley

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  • 1703, a famous English lighthouse architech, who constructed what was known as the first Eddystone lighthouse
  • He was concerned about its strength though, so and 5 others decided to stay inside it during a storm
  • Naturally, the lighthouse collapsed and crushed all 6 occupants to death

2 – Max Valier

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  • 1930, Max was a pioneer in rocketry technology, so he decided to use it for rocket-powered cars and aircraft
  • Liquid fuel had just become a thing at the time, so on April 19th, Max performed the first test drive of a rocket car using that liquid fuel
  • Since the fuel was based on alcohol, it easily caught fire on his test bench, exploded, and killed Max instantly

1 – Aurel Vlaicu

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  • 1912, Aurul, a Romanian engineer, inventor and airplane constructor won tons of prizes for his ability to land, projectile throw and fly airplanes
  • 1913, he died attempting to be the first person to fly across the Carpathian Mountains
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