The CEO of OceanGate Expeditions who was behind the recent tragedy of the missing Titan submersible has recently found himself among interesting company. He has just been added to Wikipedia’s list of innovators who have died from their own inventions.
The list is comprised of 26 entries split into a variety of different categories: aviation, medical, and maritime, to name a few. Thomas Andrews Jr. was the last name under the maritime category, prior to the addition of Rush. He is the man who designed the Titanic.
At the very least, this exercise is a great way to realize that the pursuits of art and knowledge are not free from risk. Other notable deaths are listed below.
Rush is the newest addition to the list of ill-fated inventors.
Rush and four others onboard the OceanGate Expedition’s Titan submersible went missing on June 18 while taking passengers on a voyage to see the wreck of the Titanic. After the Titan submersible went missing, the Navy and Coast Guard joined forces with James Cameron, the director of “Titanic”, to launch a rescue mission.
The search lasted for five days until the Coast Guard announced on June 22 that the submersible had imploded 1,600 feet away from the Titanic shipwreck.
The US Coast Guard has convened a Marine Board of Investigation to look into the cause of the implosion — the highest level of investigation by the organization, according to CNN.
The Titanic submersible, which has made headlines in recent weeks, was built by Rush as part of an adventure tourism project to investigate the Titanic’s remains.
As more information has come in since the Coast Guard declared the passengers of the Titan deceased, there is evidence to suggest that Rush may have ignored advice from others as well as important safety features before departing.
Karl Stanley, a friend of Rush and owner of Stanley’s Submarines, a deep-sea exploration company, took a test dive in 2019 with Rush. Stanley, in emails sent between Rush and Stanley following the test dive, warned Rush about the dangers that come with being impatient.
“The evidence suggests there is an issue/defect in one area,” Stanley wrote in an email to Rush. “Without knowing what that defect or issue is, your models and experts cannot say how it will affect the performance of the hull.”
Rush ultimately did not heed his friend’s warnings, writing in an email back to Stanley to “keep his opinions to himself.”
Thomas Andrews Jr.
Touted as an “unsinkable ship” by those who built it, the Titanic met its demise on its maiden voyage when an iceberg damaged its watertight components, causing it to sink.
Shipbuilder Thomas Andrews Jr. said the Titanic was built with 16 watertight compartments that led the architects to deem it unsinkable. When the Titanic scraped the iceberg, it caused damage to five of the 16 compartments — two more than the ship’s design could afford to lose.
After assessing the damages, Andrews estimated that the Titanic had only three hours to live.
Current thinking about the sinking of the Titanic has led experts to believe that the problem with the iconic vessel was in the rivets holding it together more so than the quality of the steel making up the ship.
Andrews advocated for more lifeboats but was denied in favor of maintaining a better view and less clutter on the deck.
If Andrews’ request had been granted, then there would have enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone on board.
Bullock was an inventor and newspaper editor who made improvements to the rotary printing press that revolutionized printing.
Instead of having to load the paper by hand, Bullock’s patent made it possible for a continuous roll of paper several miles long to flow through a printing press. Because of his patent, factories were able to print between 8,000 to 10,000 sheets per hour, exponentially increasing their printing speeds.
When Bullock was installing one of his presses, the leg of Bullock got stuck in it. The press crushed his foot, resulting in a gangrene infection and his subsequent death days later.
Conflicting records claim while trying to install the press, Bullock kicked the machine and, in doing so, got his foot and leg caught, which led to the accident.
The tradition of kicking a press to get it working is an old one.
Fascinated with air travel, Robert Cocking, a watercolor painter and part-time scientist, designed a new parachute in 1837 that he debuted to the public at a Vauxhall garden.
During its first flight, Cocking detach his parachute from the hot air balloon. He then fell hundreds of feet and died.
In one account of the incident, Cocking was found in a field by laborers and was alive for a few moments after reaching the ground.
In a different account, by the time Cocking’s body was found, visitors of the park had taken his watch, snuff box, and even his glass eye.
Though Cocking’s parachute design has been forgotten over time, he lives in infamy as the first recorded parachute death.
Franz Reichelt — remembered as the flying tailor — attempted to make a parachute and test it from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The Aero Club of France was holding a competition for the best design for a parachute with a cash prize of EUR10,000.
Reichelt, a tailor specializing in dresses, had already been developing a new design for a parachute of his own. Reichelt, despite being turned down by several aeronautical organizations, stayed determined that his parachute design would succeed.
Convinced that his dummy tests failed because they weren’t high enough, Reichelt petitioned the government to allow him to jump from the top of the Eiffel Tower. He was granted the permission after a year-long battle on the grounds that the test will be conducted with a fake.
On February 4, 1912, Reichelt surprised authorities at the top of the Eiffel Tower when he declared he would conduct the test himself in place of a dummy.
In front of spectators, the press, and cameras, Reichelt took his leap from the Eiffel Tower, placing all his faith in his 20-pound contraption. The impact of his fall left a mark on all the spectators, as well as in the concrete.
Henry Smolinski and Harold Blake
Smolinski and Blake attempted to make the world’s first flying car, the AVE Mizar. The two engineers were killed during a test flight despite some initial successes.
The two engineers named their invention after a star in the Big Dipper and combined a Cessna Skymaster and a Ford Pinto to create it.
Despite initial problems, Smolinski and Blake had small successes in previous tests. On September 11, 1973, the two inventors were conducting a flight test with the Mizar out of the Ventura County airport. Shortly after they took off, black smoke could be seen from their car.
It crashed shortly afterward, killing both Smolinski and Blake.
The original plan was fraught with problems, as the Ford Pinto is known for exploding if it’s rear-ended. Ford became the first US company to face charges of reckless homicide.
Thomas Midgley Jr.
Midgley Jr. invented leaded gasoline and the synthetic substance used in air conditioning and refrigeration, contracted polio, and died in a contraption he made to hoist himself in and out of bed.
According to the New York Times Magazine, the public was told that his death was an accident, but privately it was ruled a suicide. Either way, it was something of the lifelong inventor’s creation that contributed to his death.
Source: New York Times Magazine
Jimenez was the sculptor behind the work colloquially known as “Blucifer” at the Denver International Airport. The pieces of the sculpture fell onto him and he died.
Jimenez had been contracted by the Denver International Airport to make the sculpture and had been working on it for nearly a decade by the time of the incident.
The 32-foot tall, 9,000-pound sculpture came loose from a hoist while being moved and pinned Jimenez to a steel support beam. Jimenez died from the injuries he sustained before he could reach the hospital.
Source: New York Times
Curie died from aplastic pernicious anemia, 31 years after winning her first Nobel Prize. The disease was a result of her work with radioactive material.
Though Curie did not “invent” radium or polonium, she did discover them along with her husband and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
Curie is the only one to have won two Nobel Prizes in different categories.
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