Inspiring People

10 Scientists who Were Killed by Their Own Experiments

1. Sir David Brewster

Sir David was a Scottish scientist, and a writer. Optics and light polarization was the field of his interest. Optics is a a field requiring excellent vision. In 1831, Sir David performed a chemical experiment which almost blinded him. He remained affected with eye troubles until his death. Sir David Brewster is well known as the inventor of the kaleidoscope – a toy that has gives joy to millions of children over the years.

2. Alexander Bogdanov

Alexander Bogdanov was a Russian physician, philosopher, economist, and a science fiction writer. In 1924, he started experiments with blood transfusion. After performing 11 transfusions himself, he stated that he had suspended his balding, and improved his eyesight. Unfortunately, Bogdanov forgot to test the health of the blood of the donor which he was using. In 1928, Bogdanov took a transfusion of blood infected with malaria and tuberculosis which made him died shortly.

3. Karl Scheele

Scheele was a pharmaceutical chemist and had discovered many chemical elements. The most notable of his discoveries were oxygen, molybdenum, tungsten, manganese and chlorine. He also discovered a process very similar to pasteurization. Scheele had the habit of taste testing his discoveries and managed to survive his taste-test of hydrogen cyanide. But he was unfortunate while tasting mercury and died from the symptoms of mercury poisoning.

4. Elizabeth Ascheim

After the death of the mother, Elizabeth Fleischman Ascheim married her family doctor, Woolf. Woolf was very much exited about the new discovery of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen x-rays. His wife also became equally interested in it and she gave up her job as a bookkeeper to continue studies in electrical science. Finally, she bought an x-ray machine and kept it in her husbands office which was the first x-ray lab in San Francisco. Using themselves as subjects, She and her husband spent some years in experimenting with the machine. Unfortunately, they did not realize the consequences of their lack of protection to x-rays and Elizabeth died of an extremely widespread and violent cancer.

5. Jean Francois De Rozier

Jean Francois was a teacher of chemistry and physics. In 1783, he witnessed the world’s first balloon flight that created a passion in him for flight. After testing various flights of a sheep, a chicken, and a duck, he took the first manned free flight in a balloon. He traveled at an altitude of 3,000 feet using a hot air balloon. Later, De Rozier planned a crossing of the English Channel from France to England. He took the flight but unfortunately after reaching 1,500 feet in a combined hot air and gas balloon, the balloon deflated and made him to fall to his death.

6. Sir Humphry Davy

Sir Humphry Davy was a brilliant British chemist and inventor. He got a very rough start to his science career. As a young trainee, he was fired from his job because he caused too many explosions while performing experiments. He was so much passionate about chemistry that he took it up as the field of his career. He had a habit of inhaling various gases while dealing with them. Luckily this habit led to his discovery of the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide. But, unfortunately, this same habit led to him nearly killing himself on many occasions. The frequent poisonings of gases made him useless for the remaining two decades of his life. He had also damaged his eyes permanently in a nitrogen trichloride explosion.

7. Michael Faraday

After the injury of a brilliant British chemist Sir Humphrey Davy’s eyes, Faraday became an trainee to him. He made efforts to improve Davy’s methods of electrolysis and to make useful discoveries in the field of electro-magnetics. Unfortunately, Faraday also suffered damage to his eyes in a nitrogen chloride explosion. He spent the rest of his life suffering with chronic chemical poisoning.

8. Galileo Galilei

Galileo also referred to as the “father of modern physics”.  His work on the refinement of the telescope was brilliant. It opened up the doors of the universe for future generations. But it also damaged his eyesight. He was fascinated with the sun and spent many hours staring at it. As a result of which, he got extreme damage to his retinas. This was the most likely cause of his near blindness in the last four years of his life.

9. Louis Slotin

Slotin worked on the US project to design the first nuclear bomb. While performing experiments for his project, he accidentally dropped a sphere of beryllium on a second sphere causing a prompt critical. It is known from other scientists who were in the room that they had witnessed a blue glow of air ionization and felt a heat wave. Slotin was rushed to hospital where he died nine days later. The amount of radiation he was exposed to was equivalent to standing 4800 feet away from an atomic bomb explosion.

10. Marie Curie

Curie along with her husband Pierre discovered radium in 1898. She spent rest of her life performing radiation research and studying radiation therapy. Her constant exposure to radiation led to her contracting leukemia and due to which she died in 1934. Curie is the first and only person who received two Nobel prizes in science in two different fields, chemistry and physics.]]>


Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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