Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions
Scientists and inventors sometimes kill themselves by accident. iStock
More frequently than you might think, inventors inadvertently kill themselves with their own inventions. It's sad, true, but maybe a part of being intelligent enough to carry their inventions through to completion.
Follow along as we trace the untimely and unfortunate demises of these inventors who pioneered new technology and paid the ultimate price.
Jimi HeseldenAP Photo
Jimi Heselden, owner of the British company Hesco Bastion that produces Segways, died October 2010 in a tragic Segway accident. Police reported that Heselden apparently fell off a cliff and into a river while out on a ride.
Although Heselden was not the inventor of the Segway, (Dean Kamen was; Heselden was the owner of the overseeing company that bought the scooter), the tragic irony wasn't lost on us.
Harry HoudiniAP Photo
While it may not have been a traditional magic act, Harry Houdini died literally at the hands of a physical "trick" he performed -- and a bad case of appendicitis.
Before a performance, two college students reportedly asked Houdini to demonstrate his physical strength "trick" of being able to absorb numerous blows to the upper body without injury. The impact on that particular day was enough to burst the famous magician's already inflamed appendix.
Houdini died on Halloween in 1926, after surgery failed to save him from the resulting peritonitis. He was laid to rest in the prop casket he used to perform his famous "buried alive" illusion.
Marie Curie AP Photo
The first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, Madame Marie Curie was also, sadly, the victim of her own invention -- or perhaps experimentation.
Curie is credited with the discovery of radium and polonium -- two highly radioactive elements. Although radon, the gas emitted by radium, was used by Curie and others as a medical treatment for injured soldiers during WWI, the elements would eventually be recognized for their deadly side effects, according the Institut Curie.
After spending a lifetime up to her elbows, literally, in radioactive material, Curie's health slowly deteriorated. She died on July 4, 1934 at the age of 66. At the time, Curie’s cause of death was listed as aplastic anemia, a condition where bone marrow stops producing new blood cells. Today we know that her condition was caused by radiation exposure.
Thomas AndrewsAP Photo
Irishman Thomas Andrews was one of the architects behind the infamous Titanic. Andrews, as a dutiful shipbuilder, was, of course, aboard for the Titanic's maiden voyage. The rest is, well, history.
Horace Lawson HunleyAP Photo
A legislator, a lawyer and a marine engineer for the Confederate army, H.L. Hunley is famous for his invention of the submarine during the Civil War. Hunley's invention didn't have a promising safety record; five out of nine crew members had died on the first submarine run.
Nevertheless, Hunley was on board for the second attempt to attack the Union Blockade in Charleston Harbor using his underwater contraption. This time, all crew members were killed, including Hunley.
The Confederate Army was able to recover the submarine and make a third attempt to attack the blockade. This time they were successful. But the third time would not be the charm for the crew. According to The Friends of the Hunley, the submarine sank inexplicably after successfully bringing down a Union ship.
Lost for 132 years, the Hunley was eventually recovered at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, just outside Charleston Harbor.
Alexander BogdanovLibrary of Congress
Although few may know Alexander Bogdanov by name, many know the treatment he pioneered: the blood transfusion.
A jack of all trades -- an economist, professor, founder of Bolshevism and physician -- Bogdanov experimented with transfusions in attempt to create a kind of fountain of youth, according to the International Alexander Bogdanov Institute.
Bogdanov successfully gave himself 11 blood transfusions. The 12th proved fatal. Scholars, however, disagree over what actually killed the pioneering physician. Theories include disease-infected blood, blood incompatibility and even suicide.
William BullockLibrary of Congress
Native New Yorker William Bullock invented the Bullock rotary printing press -- a press fed by a continuous roll of paper.
Legend has it that Bullock either kicked his machine, or accidentally caught his leg in the mechanisms of one of his presses. The cut on his leg became infected and he died shortly thereafter from gangrene.