Author`s name Alex Naumov

Top 5 scientists killed by their experiments

Man owes a great debt to the scientists on this list. All of them died in their pursuit of knowledge. The advances they have all made to science are extraordinary and many of them paved the way for some of man’s greatest discoveries and inventions.

5. Karl Scheele

Died from tasting his discoveries

Scheele was a brilliant pharmaceutical chemist who discovered many chemical elements - the most notable of which were oxygen (though Joseph Priestley published his findings first), molybdenum, tungsten, manganese, and chlorine. He also discovered a process very similar to pasteurization. Scheele had the habit of taste testing his discoveries and, fortunately, managed to survive his taste-test of hydrogen cyanide. But alas, his luck was to run out: he died of symptoms strongly resembling mercury poisoning.

4. Jean-Francois De Rozier

First victim of an air crash

Jean-Francois was a teacher of physics and chemistry. In 1783 he witnessed the world’s first balloon flight which created in him a passion for flight. After assisting in the untethered flight of a sheep, a chicken, and a duck, he took the first manned free flight in a balloon. He travelled at an altitude of 3,000 feet using a hot air balloon. Not stopping there, De Rozier planned a crossing of the English Channel from France to England. Unfortunately it was his last flight; after reaching 1,500 feet in a combined hot air and gas balloon, the balloon deflated, causing him to fall to his death. His fiancee died 8 days later - possibly from suicide.

3. Elizabeth Ascheim

Killed by X-Rays

Elizabeth Fleischman Ascheim married her doctor, Dr Woolf, shortly after her mother died. Because of his medical position, Woolf was very interested in the new discovery of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen - x-rays. His new wife became equally interested and she gave up her job as a bookkeeper to undertake studies in electrical science. Eventually she bought an x-ray machine which she moved in to her husbands office - this was the first x-ray lab in San Francisco. She and her husband spent some years experimenting with the machine - using themselves as subjects. Unfortunately they did not realize the consequences of their lack of protection and Elizabeth died of an extremely widespread and violent cancer. Information on Ascheim is scarce, so I recommend you read this PDF on her life.

2. Alexander Bogdanov

Killed himself with blood

Bogdanov was a Russian physician, philosopher, economist, science fiction writer, and revolutionary. In 1924, he began experiments with blood transfusion - most likely in a search for eternal youth. After 11 transfusions (which he performed on himself), he declared that he had suspended his balding, and improved his eyesight. Unfortunately for Bogdanov, the science of transfusion was a young one and Bogdanov was not one to test the health of the blood he was using or the donor. In 1928, Bogdanov took a transfusion of blood infected with malaria and tuberculosis. Consequently he died shortly after.

1. Louis Slotin

Killed himself with an accidental fission reaction

Canadian born Slotin worked on the Manhattan project (the US project to design the first nuclear bomb). In the process of his experimentation he accidentally dropped a sphere of beryllium on to a second sphere causing a prompt critical reaction (the spheres were wrapped around a plutonium core). Other scientists in the room witnessed a “blue glow” of air ionization and felt a “heat wave”. Slotin rushed outside and was sick. He was rushed to hospital and died nine days later. The amount of radiation he was exposed to was equivalent to standing 4800 feet away from an atomic bomb explosion. This accident prompted the end of all hands-on assembly work at Los Alamos. Read also the Wikipedia article on this critical event.

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Source: The List Universe