Inventors killed by their own inventions? It happens.
You may know that Nobel-winning chemist Marie Curie died from the effects of the radioactive materials she studied, but what about the Franco-Austrian tailor who tried and failed to parachute from the Eiffel Tower, or the Russian blood transfusion pioneer who gave himself malaria-infected blood?
In the slideshow below, read the stories of 10 ill-fated inventors--all killed by their own inventions. While some of the creations were obviously ill-advised, others were just ahead of their time. Being the first person on the scene with a new invention comes with a whole set of hazards, especially when rockets are involved.
All photos are public domain unless otherwise noted.
German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal developed 18 different plane models and created the predecessor to the modern hang glider. The latter creation did him in, when it stalled during a test flight in 1896, he fell from over 50 feet. Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images
In 1917, young Russian engineer Valerian Abakovsky designed a railcar fitted with an aircraft engine, that he hoped would be able to take Communist officials from city to city at high speeds. A test run of over 100 miles from Moscow to the city of Tula in 1921 proved successful, but the car derailed on the return trip, killing all aboard.
In the 5th century B.C., metalworker Perillos created a "brazen bull" for Sicilian tyrant Phalaris. The device looked like a bronze sculpture of a bull, but with a compartment inside in which a prisoner could be held. The executioner would then light a fire underneath the bull and the prisoner would be roasted to death. Skeptical of Perillos' creation, Phalaris decided to test it out on its unfortunate inventor. Accounts differ about whether or not the ruler pulled his subject out at the last moment.
Russian polymath Alexander Bogdanov didn't invent blood transfusion, but he did found the first blood bank in Moscow in 1925. He believed that receiving blood from healthy people was the key to eternal youth, and all was going well until 1928, when he injected himself with blood of someone suffering from malaria and tuberculosis.
<a href="http://history.msfc.nasa.gov/rocketry/06.html">Legend has it</a> that during the 15th century, a Chinese man named Wan Hu attempted to take to the skies in a chair equipped with 47 large rockets. Accounts of the event differ--one claimed he made it into the sky before the apparatus burned up, while another described an immediate explosion: "when the smoke cleared, the flying chair and Wan-Hu were gone."
Marie Curie's pioneering work in radioactivity earned her two Nobel prizes, but it came with a price. Her long-term exposure to ions from the radioactive materials that made up her life's work eventually gave her a bone marrow condition known as aplastic anemia. She succumbed in 1934. Credit: AP
The H.L. Hunley was the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship in battle, and it did so for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Horace Hunley, the marine engineer who created the sub, was onboard during a training exercise in 1863-- he went down with the ship when it sank. </strong>Correction<strong>: <em>A previous version of this slide stated that Hunley was on board during the submarine's final voyage. In fact, the vessel was raised and ridden again after the ill-fated training exercise that killed Hunley</em>.
Canadian daredevil Karel Soucek may have made it over Niagara Falls in his custom-made capsule, but when he tried to recreate the famous stunt into a pool at the Houston Astrodome in 1985, the rig malfunctioned. He hit the side of the pool, fatally injuring himself in the process.
Franco-Austrian tailor Franz Reichelt created what would have been the first wearable parachute--if it had worked. Despite many failed attempts, Reichelt himself wore the parachute in a 1912 jump from the Eiffel tower. His invention failed that time as well.
Ex-Northrop engineer Henry Smolinski met his end in 1973 when his AVE Mizar, or 'Flying Pinto' separated from its airframe and crashed. Though the craft had flown successfully in tests, subsequent analysis revealed major design flaws. See it fly at around 3:30 into the video.