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List of inventors killed by their own inventions

Automotive

  • William Nelson (ca. 1879−1903), a General Electric employee, invented a new way to motorize bicycles. He then fell off his prototype bike during a test run.

Aviation

  • Ismail ibn Hammad al-Jawhari (died ca. 1003–1010), a Muslim Kazakh Turkic scholar from Farab, attempted to fly using two wooden wings and a rope. He leapt from the roof of a mosque in Nijabur and fell to his death.
  • Otto Lilienthal (1848–1896) died the day after crashing one of his hang gliders.
  • Franz Reichelt (1879–1912), a tailor, fell to his death off the first deck of the Eiffel Tower while testing his invention, the coat parachute. It was his first ever attempt with the parachute and he had told the authorities in advance he would test it first with a dummy.
  • Henry Smolinski (died 1973) was killed during a test flight of the AVE Mizar, a flying car based on the Ford Pinto and the sole product of the company he founded.
  • Aurel Vlaicu (1882–1913) died when his self-constructed airplane,[6]Vlaicu II, failed him during an attempt to cross the Carpathian Mountains by air.
  • Michael Dacre (died 2009, age 53) died after testing his flying taxi device designed to accommodate fast and affordable travel among nearby cities.

Industrial

  • William Bullock (1813–1867) invented the web rotary printing press.[9][10] Several years after its invention, his foot was crushed while installing a new machine in Philadelphia. The crushed foot developed gangrene and Bullock died during the amputation.

Maritime

  • Horace Lawson Hunley (died 1863, age 40), confederate marine engineer and inventor of the first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, died during a trial of his vessel. During a routine exercise of the submarine, which had already sunk twice previously, Hunley took command. After failing to resurface, Hunley and the seven other crew members drowned.

Medical

  • Thomas Midgley, Jr. (1889–1944) was an American engineer and chemist who contracted polio at age 51, leaving him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of strings and pulleys to help others lift him from bed. This system was the eventual cause of his death when he was accidentally entangled in the ropes of this device and died of strangulation at the age of 55. However, he is more famous–and infamous–for developing not only the tetraethyl lead (TEL) additive to gasoline, but also chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Physics

  • Maria Skłodowska-Curie (1867–1934) invented the process to isolate radium after co-discovering the radioactive elements radium and polonium. She died of aplastic anemia as a result of prolonged exposure to ionizing radiation emanating from her research materials. The dangers of radiation were not well understood at the time.

Punishment

  • Li Si (208 BC) (Chinese first minister) was executed by The Five Pains method which he had devised.
  • James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton (1581) was executed in Edinburgh on the Scottish Maiden which he had introduced to Scotland as Regent.

Railways

  • Valerian Abakovsky (1895–1921) constructed the Aerowagon, an experimental high-speed railcar fitted with an aircraft engine and propeller traction; it was intended to carry Soviet officials. On July 24, 1921, a group led by Fyodor Sergeyev took the Aerowagon from Moscow to the Tula collieries to test it, with Abakovsky also on board. They successfully arrived in Tula, but on the return route to Moscow the Aerowagon derailed at high speed, killing everyone on board, including Abakovsky (at the age of 25).
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