6 Scientists Killed by Their Inventions

  • November 10, 2010
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  • Science
  • Image Sources


Li Si and James Douglas – Inventors of torture


If you make fun of his fruity robes, he’ll invent a new kind of pain just for you.

It’s hard to call someone that comes up with a new horrible way to maim other people a researcher, but both Li Si and James Douglas were intelligent nobles and leaders who planned the life of a kingdom and contributed to military science. Unfortunately they both also enjoyed torture and executions more than necessary.

Li Si was the chancellor of the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang and he is often credited as the main reason Qin’s empire functioned so well. Li was also a scholar having studied Confucianism as well as calligraphy and art. To top it all he was an inventor of sorts, having come up with the Five Pains method of executing prisoners. The method involved chopping of various body parts and inflicting increasingly more painful cuts until the victim died cursing Lin Si to the bowels of hell. Eventually the years of bad karma did catch up with Li Si and the method was eventually used on him when Qin died and the empire experienced a brutal struggle for power.


Hat from the “Jaunty” line of executioner-wear.

The somewhat-more-fortunate James Douglas was the inventor of the Scottish Guillotine, also known as the Scottish Maiden. His motivation for introducing this device to his people was a cleaner and less painful death. While it’s hard to justify murdering people, at least James has some compassion for his fellow man and in return didn’t have to suffer through the Five Pains method when his political enemies managed to get the better of him. He just got to see down his own neck-hole for the split second his head was airborne and conscious.

Interesting enough, most people confuse James Douglas with Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, who was one of the first people to propose the usage of a mechanical decapitation systems, but never invented the Guillotine and did not die beheaded by it.


Michael Dacre - the flying taxi


You can bet your ass they’d check the credentials of the cabbies more closely than in New York taxis.

Probably the most recent inventor who lost his life to his own creation is Michael Dacre, a French researcher who created a small plane that was meant to transport people between cities. The plane was tiny and would fly on low altitude, carrying about eight passengers. The whole plan sounded awesome, but Michael Dacre forgot about the dozen or so pioneers of aviation who lost their lives in self-constructed planes.

Authorities report that on the day of the test flight in August 2009, the small plane simply couldn’t get enough speed to lift off. Michael tried three times to become airborne, before finally leaving the ground sharply. Now, in case you remember the first entry in this list, you’ll probably already know that gravity is a harsh, harsh mistress, especially when it comes to small home-made devices. Despite the efforts of the emergency team who was ready to intervene, the flying taxi crashed in a fiery explosion.


Thomas Andrews, Jr – the man who made the Titanic


World’s largest metaphor meets a horrible end.

When you think of tragedy, the Titanic has to be among the first most tragic technical catastrophes in memory. It was the ship meant to sail forever, named after the Titans themselves, yet it sunk on its first voyage. Dubbed unsinkable, yet an easy to avoid collision sent it to the bottom of the ocean within hours. Just imagine the disappointment of the man who was in charge of designing the colossal ship upon realizing that his life work was quickly heading for the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Andrews who had also worked on the sister ship of the Titanic, the Olympic, was familiar with every detail of the ship, knowledge that made him realize within minutes of the collision how serious things were. To his credit, he didn’t race for the first life boat instead choosing to warn as many passengers as he could. In fact, witness reports say that he was last seen throwing chairs and life vests to the people swimming in the ocean. It was this behavior that eventually earned Andrews the memory of a true hero.

Written by Jack Mendoza – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com

Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - al-Jawhari and Franz Reichelt - The guys who wanted to be Icarus: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/61/The_Lament_For_Icarus.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flying_tailor.png
  • - Henry Winstanley - The Dedicated Architect: http://www.cichw.net/monlight1a/winstpri354.JPG
  • - Valerian Abakovsky - The Aerowagon: http://www.3sulblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/valerianabakovsky.jpg
  • - Li Si and James Douglas – Inventors of torture: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/QinshihuangBW.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/QinshihuangBW.jpg
  • - Michael Dacre - the flying taxi: http://i.thisislondon.co.uk/i/pix/2009/08/planes-fly-300x200.jpg
  • - Thomas Andrews, Jr – the man who made the Titanic: http://www.webtek.no/titanic/Images/titanic6.jpg


  • http://books.google.com/books?id=jreLHQctCxAC&pg=PA37#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Reichelt
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Winstanley#Death
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerowagon
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Si
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Douglas,_4th_Earl_of_Morton
  • http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23733014-british-inventor-dies-in-crash-on-test-flight-of-his-flying-taxi.do
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Andrews_%28shipbuilder%29