Death by Invention! Who didn't make it?

By: Michael Franco

Death by Invention! Who didn't make it?
Image: ullstein bild/Getty Images

About This Quiz

It might sound like that scene in a sci-fi movie when the robot goes crazy and kills its own inventor, but the fact is that inventors have fallen prey to their own creations for hundreds of years. Take this quiz to see how much you know about inventors killed by their own work.
What’s the name of the nuclear device physicist Harry Daghlian was working on when he received a lethal dose of radiation in 1945?
Demon Core
Daghlian was working on the Demon Core, which was part of the Manhattan Project. The assemblage went super critical when Daghlian dropped a tungsten carbide brick on a core of plutonium. Daughlian removed the brick and prevented an explosion, but died 28 days later from radiation poisoning.
Glowing Portal
Radiathon

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What machine led to the death of its inventor (William Bullock) in 1867?
rotary hone
rotary mower
rotary printing press
William Bullock's leg was caught and crushed in the rotary printing press machine he invented and he died as a result of the gangrene that infected the wound.

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What other invention did William Bullock create?
backhoe
coffee press
seed planter
Bullock invented several other machines, including the seed planter. But it was his rotary press, which for the first time fed a printing press with a roll of paper rather than individual sheets, that truly made him famous.

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What was the nickname of Franz Reichlet, the inventor of a parachute suit?
The Flying Dutchman
The Flying Tailor
Reichlet, who was known as The Flying Tailor, leaped to his death from the top of the Eiffel Tower in 1912 when a special suit he had created to break his fall failed to work.
The Flying Fool

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What was the final stage of The Five Pains method of execution used in China?
being boiled in oil
being cut in half
After first four stages, having your nose, hand and foot cut off, then being castrated, the fifth and final phase was being cut in half.
being dropped off The Great Wall

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What were the charges that led to the death of The Five Pains inventor, Li Si?
treason
Li Si was convicted of treason. As a result of his transgression, Li Si was subjected to the same vicious method of torture and death he had invented.
adultery
theft

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What made the flying taxi, the invention that killed its maker, Michael Dacre, unique?
It was made of glass.
It could take off and land in short distances.
It could take off and land in short distances. Dacre's goal was to make an aircraft that could land in urban areas thanks to a reduced need for a long runway.
It ran on goose fat.

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How many patents did Thomas Midgley have?
between 10 and 50
between 50 and 100
more than 100
More than 100, including one for the invention of ethyl gasoline that combated engine knock. He also invented the coolant known commercially as Freon.

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Midgley suffered from polio, but how did he die?
shot
strangled
Midgley invented a series of pulleys to assist with his transport in and out of bed. In 1944 at the age of 55, he became entangled and was strangulated by the ropes of the system.
drowned

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What invention collapsed around its inventor, Henry Winstanley, in 1703, leading to his death?
lighthouse
Henry Winstanley was making repairs at the Eddystone Lighthouse he'd built in Plymouth, England when a fierce storm caused the structure to collapse around him. It was the first lighthouse ever to be successfully built on stone.
silo
suspension bridge

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How did Jimi Heselden, the owner of Segway, die?
A Segway exploded while he was test-driving it.
He drove a Segway off a cliff.
Heselden had just purchased the Segway company in 2010 when he accidentally drove one off a cliff at his estate in England, killing him.
He was crushed by a runaway Segway.

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Max Valier was killed by flying shrapnel from one of his own inventions. Which one was it?
a mine
a rocket motor
Valier was working on a liquid oxygen-gasoline fueled rocket motor when it exploded, sending shrapnel flying. A piece severed Valier's aorta, killing him instantly. Valier's work with rockets eventually formed the foundation for NASA's Saturn V program, which led to the first American on the moon.
a grenade

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What was the name of the high-speed railcar powered by a jet engine that killed its inventor, Valerian Abakovsky?
Mercurcar
Bolt
Aerowagon
Abakovsky's railcar was known as the Aerowagon. It was designed to carry Russian officials and derailed on a return trip to Moscow in 1921, killing everyone on board.

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What invention killed its inventor, William Nelson, in 1903 in Schenectady, New York?
motorized bicycle
William Nelson was testing his motorized bicycle for General Electric when he fell off and died at the tragically young age of 24.
electric toaster
the cotton gin

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What was the nickname of Otto Lilienthal?
The Rocket Man
The Human Fish
The Glider King
Lilienthal was a German civil engineer who became known as The Glider King because he pioneered the science of wing aerodynamics that contributed to the eventual success of the Wright Brothers. He died in 1896 when his glider crashed as a result of a heat eddy.

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Where was Aurel Vlaicu heading when the airplane he invented lost its wings and caused his death?
Budapest
Prague
Transylvania
Vlaicu was a Romanian mechanical engineer, airplane builder and pilot who constructed several successful aircraft. He was flying to Transylvania when he died in a crash in 1913.

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What kind of car did Henry Smolinski attach airplane wings to in an effort to make a flying car?
Dodge Dart
Ford Pinto
The car/plane hybrid was a Ford Pinto called Mizar and killed Molinkski when a wing fell off during a test flight in 1973.
Pontiac Grand Am

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What medical treatment ended the life of scientist Alexander Bogdanov after he spent his life doing pioneering work on it?
angioplasty
blood transfusion
Although the exact cause of the Russian scientist's death in 1928 is still debated, it is largely agreed that it was due to a blood transfusion of either incompatible or disease-infected blood.
liver transplant

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What scientist died by tasting his discoveries?
Karl Scheele
Karl Scheele is credited with discovering, among other chemicals, chlorine. However he had the bad habit of tasting his findings and it is theorized that he died from heavy-metal poisoning in 1786.
Humphrey Davies
Jack Catchman

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What project was Louis Slotin working on when he was exposed to the amount of radiation equivalent to standing 4,800 feet away from an atomic bomb explosion?
The X Files
The Manhattan Project
While working on The Manhattan Project, Slotin accidentally dropped a sphere of beryllium onto another one but shielded the resultant radiation with his body, thus protecting the other scientists in the room. He died nine days after his exposure.
The Supernova Cosmology Project

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You Got:
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ullstein bild/Getty Images
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