12 Deadly Inventions That Killed Their Creators

Technological progress is not the iPhone 5 or the Nexus 7. Technological progress is creating things that nobody has ever seen before -- things that push humanity forward. You know, like building a machine heavier than air that freaking flies. Sadly, sometimes these quests end in disaster.

Let's honour those forgotten geniuses by remembering them and their ultimately fatal inventions.

Engineer Henry Smolinski wanted a car that could fly, everyone's dream. He called it the AVE Mizar. Sadly, Herny's invention killed him when he crashed in 1973. Images: Doug Duncan/Cookieboy's Toys

Michael Robert Dacre wanted to build flying cars too, a fleet of jetpod air taxis. He crashed when testing his invention on August 16, 2009. Animgif: orenikuwa

Romanian aviation pioneer Aurel Vlaicu built the first metal plane in the world, but his arrow-shaped Vlaicu II killed him while trying to cross the Carpathian Mountains. Images: Wikimedia Commons/Early Aviators

Franz Reichelt was a successful parachute pioneer until he tested his "wearable model" from the Eiffel Tower on February 4, 1912. Animgif: British Pathé

Confederate marine engineer Horace Lawson Hunley tried to develop hand-powered submarines during the civil war -- until he died testing his invention in South Carolina on October 15, 1863. Images: Naval History & Heritage Command/

Valerian Ivanovich Abakovsky invented the Aerowagon, an experimental high-speed railcar powered by an aircraft engine. He died along with a few Soviet officials en route to Moscow when the Aerowagon derailed. Images: Wikimedia Commons/lord_k/Infodon

Another Soviet, Air Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin, died while testing his weapon of mass destruction: the ICBM R-16. The second stage engines ignited accidentally at the Baikonur test range, killing many people in the launch pad. Nedelin was the head of the program. Animgif: Roscosmos

Max Valier was a German rocket scientist and rocket-car maker who died before he could complete his invention. He was obliterated when one of his liquid-fueled engines exploded on his lab desk. Images: Library Of Congress/Library Of Congress

Otto Lilienthal was the first person to make repeated and successful gliding flights. Until his lucky strike ended on August 9, 1896. Photo: AP and Rischgitz/Getty Images

David M. Campbell set both water and land speed records in 1964. On 1967, he tried to set the water record again on board his Bluebird K7. At 515km/h, the Bluebird went out of control, killing David instantly. Animgif: British Pathé

Another speed demon, Welsh engineer John Godfrey Parry-Thomas, died in 1927 trying to set a land speed record on board his car: Babs aka Chitty Bang Bang 4. The right-hand drive chain broke while zooming at 274km/h, impacting against his head. Image: Flickr

Harry Daghlian -- interpreted by John Cusack in the 1989 film Fat Man and Little Boy -- was a physicist in Los Alamos, working in the Manhattan Project. He died when a 6.3kg plutonium ball -- called the Demon Core -- bursted with neutron radiation. Animgif: Fat Man and Little Boy (1989 Paramount Pictures)

Images curated by Attila Nagy



    "Technological progress is not the iPhone 5 or the Nexus 7." It's such a breath of fresh air to see someone say that these days!

    — bursted ?

      Its a word now.

      Yeah slightly higher magnitude than burstigated

      Yeah, it's grammatically correct, even though it sounds terrible to our ears. If something popped, then you would say it "burst". But if something had let out a burst of energy or a burst of data, then "bursted" is correct.

    To expand on the Harry Daghlian and the Demon Core bit, he dropped a Tungsten Carbide brick onto the core which made the core go into critical mass and he grabbed it, received a huge dose of radiation and died of radiation poisoning 25 days later.

    Last edited 26/09/12 3:22 pm

      All the while telling the doctors and doctors (human doctors and the nuclear bomb kind) to make notes of what was happening to him so that they could study the effects of radiation as well as giving a frank description of what he felt when it happened and what was happening to him as he was dying. He refused pain medication so that he could be as lucid as possible so that his colleagues could accurately and scientifically describe the event and the the effects of it.

      Also He didn't invent or create the sphere of Plutonium he was just doing experiments on it.

        Wow. Thanks for that, I'm gonna read up on him now. Sounds like quite an admirable way to die.

        I heard that he survived the incident but turned into a large green rage monster whenever he got angry.

    Not just "bursted". Also "lucky strike".

      Actually, "lucky strike" is grammatically correct. See, Otto had just finished his Lucky Strike brand cigarette while on a glide. He flicked the cigarette butt away, but he flicked it into the wind - it came back, ignited the glider wings above him, and he plummeted to his death below. Thus, "Otto Lilienthal was the first person to make repeated and successful gliding flights. Until his lucky strike ended on August 9, 1896."

    David Campbell was actually Donald Campbell - unless there's two Campbells who died in a very fast speedboat.

      I thought David sounded wrong!

        Yeah, David Campbell does sound wrong. Did you hear his version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" he did with dad Jimmy Barnes? Wrong, just wrong.

    Segway creator.

      It wasn't the creator, it was the guy that took over the company in 2009.

    Apps !

    They have revolutionised mankind as we know it. The greatest achievment of mankind since the harnessing of fire !

      Or slicing of wheat & yeast products!

        Slicing of wheat & yeast products is the greatest achievement? I think there is a better wheat and yeast product...burp!

    Then the plutonium bursteded.

    Bursted. LOL. I splitted my sides laughing about that one.

    Not sure how I feel about repeatedly watching a guy fall to his death on a massive gif without choosing to click a link to a nsfw site. It may be black and white but it's still a guy dying.

    This, 'David' Campbell and the 'inventor' of plutonium leads me to believe that not much thought went in to the article.

    What century are you living in?



    Hey - did i just watch snuff gifs? I know its an article about people dying and all...but still

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now