T.S. Eliot once said that “only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Unfortunately, the following inventors inadvertently went too far with their creations. In a cruel twist of fate, the innovative minds behind these progressive inventions fell victim to the risks they decided to take
Marie Curie (1867-1934)
Curie is an icon in the science world and is credited with inventing the process to isolate radium (she was able to do this after co-discovering the radioactive elements radium and polonium). Unfortunately, the dangers of radiation were not common knowledge at the time and she died of aplastic anemia as a result of her continued exposure to radiation from her research.
Karel Soucek (1947-1985)
Soucek was a Canadian professional stuntman who invented a shock-absorbent barrel that he famously (and illegally) used to go over Niagara Falls in 1984. He used the same barrel to drop from the roof of the Houston Astrodome in 1985, a stunt which Evel Knievel described as the “most dangerous [stunt] I’ve ever seen.”
He was fatally wounded when the barrel he was in hit the rim of the water tank that was meant to cushion his landing.
James Douglas (1581)
Douglas was the Fourth Earl of Morton who lived in Scotland under the reign of King James VI. In a cruel twist of fate, he’s most remembered for being executed in Edinburgh by the Maiden, a Scottish guillotine that he himself had introduced to the country during his term as Regent of Scotland.
Max Valier (1895-1930)
Valier was a pioneer of rocketry who lived in Austria. He’s best remembered for inventing a liquid-fueled rocket engine as a member of an elite German rocketeering society in 1920s Germany. In May of 1930, though, his own type of alcohol-fueled engine exploded on his test bench and struck him in the face, killing him instantly.
Li Si (208 BC)
The Five Punishments was a series of physical torture methods that was prominent in Ancient China. Li Si was a prime minister during the Qin dynasty, during which time he introduced the Five Pains method of punishment, which included tattooing someone’s face, cutting someone’s nose off or having the victim’s body cut into four separate pieces.
In 208 BCE, Si was executed on criminal charges by the very method that he had helped create.
Jim Fixx (1932-1984)
James Fuller Fixx was an American athlete and author who wrote the influential 1977 text “The Complete Book of Running.” He’s widely credited as being a founding father of the American fitness revolution.