Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions

Snigdha Sandip

The desire to invent something is inherent in human nature. The development we see today is the result of our desire to cross the boundary of possibility. Inventors are those who see the “possible in impossible, adventure in inconvenience and reachable in unreachable” and their inventions will bring revolutionary change to our world.

But, life which can rightly be called a “road of strange paradoxes” at times takes unexpected turns. Some inventors even end up killed by the very inventions they brought to life. Let us check some of the unfortunate ones who lost their lives because of their own inventions.

Henry Smolinski

Henry Smolinski was an ex-Northtrop Engineer who resigned and planned to start Advanced Vehicle Engineers which aimed at building a flying car. In 1973, the company made its first two prototypes by combining the rear end of a Cessna Skymaster airplane with a Ford Pinto. The tail section could be attached and detached from the vehicle. And on September 11, 1973, he went for a test drive with a pilot named Harold Blake. But unfortunately they both died as a wing strut detached from the car. The National Transportation Safety Board found out that the reason behind the accident was bad welds.

Franz Reichelt

Franz Reichelt was an Australian tailor who spent his free hours inventing a flying parachute suit for airplane pilots. During his time, the airplane was a new invention. The suit he was developing for aviators would convert into a parachute when they were forced to leave from airplane thus saving them from a fall. The initial experiment used with dummies turned successful. This prompted him to test the suit himself and he went on with his test by jumping off the lower level of theEiffelTower. He crashed into icy-ground at the foot of the tower and died.

Horace Lawson Hunley

Horace Lawson Hunley was a lawyer who served at the Louisiana State Legislature and was also interested in marine engineering. He designed and built three hand-powered submarines during the time of American civil war. His first submarine was built inNew Orleansand was deliberately sunk whenNew Orleansfell to theUnionin 1862. His second submarine failed with the vessel’s sinking inMobileBayinAlabama. Later, on October 15, 1863, Hunley and his seven crew members died when the vessel that carried his name sank in the waters offCharleston. The vessel was later raised by the Confederacy and used again with a new crew and it managed to sink a ship. It was the first ship to be seized by a submersible vessel.

Thomas Midgley Jr

Thomas Midgley Jr. was an American mechanical engineer and chemist famous for his work with “no-knock” or leaded gasoline and the greenhouse gas Freon. During a press conference to prove fuel safety, he poured the leaded gasoline all over his hands and sniffed it for 60 seconds – but was poisoned. He survived the accident, but later on death was waiting for him in the form of a rope and pulley system he built to help others to lift him from bed while he was suffering from polio. Accidentally entangled in the ropes on November 2, 1944, he died.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie, the polish physicist and chemist, received the Nobel Prize twice – one for physics along with her husband Henri Becquerel and one for chemistry. Her best known achievements are the theory on radioactivity and invention of elements like polonium and radium. Even though she established the radioactivity theory, she became a victim of the fatal effects of radioactivity. She died on July 4, 1934, of aplastic anemia caused by radiation exposure.

Perillos of Athens

Perillos of Athens was a bronze worker of Greece. He invented a bronze device called the brazen bull to execute criminals in a cruel way. The guilty was locked inside and roasted to death. Perillos proposed this to tyrant Phalaris who ordered to test the sound system with Perillos himself. He was put inside and a fire was burnt underneath him. When he started screaming he was pulled out and thrown off a cliff by Phalaris’ men.

Valerian Abakovsky

Valerian Abakovsky worked as a chauffeur for the Tambov Cheka. This Russian inventor is best remembered for his high-speed Aero wagon train engine invention. The Aero wagon derailed on a test run killing all the six ones including Abakovsky himself. He was only 25 at the time of his death.

After reading this what do you feel? Strange, right? Life is like that with unexpected twists and turns – always waiting to baffle mankind.

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