For the superstitious, those who avoid black cats and walking under ladders, this blog is for you. Tomorrow is Friday the 13th. A day some consider as unlucky or a day that brings bad fortunes. So it’s very fitting that this blog is all about some of the unluckiest invention makers. These inventors started with great inventions but couldn’t have had more unfortunate endings.
Michael Robert Dacre
A little over a decade ago, Michael attempted the first and last test of his flying prototype, the AVCEN Jetpod. Michael was an aviation entrepreneur who saw a market for STOL (short take-off and landing). The aircraft only needed 410 ft to land and takeoff – a key selling point of this aircraft. As a result, not only was this aircraft quieter than their airbus counterparts but runways could also be build to close even the densest and urbanized cities. This made it ideal for a multitude of applications including military transportation, executive shuttle, or as a convenient air taxi.
On August 16, 2009, Michael helmed the cockpit of the Jetpod prototype on an airstrip in Taiping, Malaysia. On his fourth attempt, he was finally able to liftoff. Once he reached an altitude of 656 ft, the prototype stalled and plummeted to the ground. When police found the wreckage, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
One of the most famous yet unluckiest invention makers in the world. Thomas is the designer of the RMS Titanic, the “unsinkable” ship that has been well documented in our history. But what you might not know are all of Thomas’ efforts to help ensure the safety of as many passengers as possible. In his initial designs, there would’ve been enough lifeboats for all the passengers.
However, Bruce Ismay, the President of the now-defunct transportation company White Star Line, argued that the extra lifeboats would not be necessary because they already met the legal minimum requirements. In addition, Bruce argued that the “extra boats simply would clutter up the beautiful open expanse of the upper deck, where first-class passengers would want to stroll.” As a result, the Titanic set sail without enough lifeboats to accommodate all the passengers. Only 700 passengers survived. None of which were Thomas Andrews. Indeed, in his final hours, he stayed aboard until the very end and heroically advised as many passengers as he could to abandon the ship.
Marie, with the help of her husband, was best known for their discovery of radium and polonium. Of the three unluckiest invention makers, I feel sorry for her the most as Marie was a wonderfully talented scientist and an inventor. In 1902, they successfully invented a method to isolated radioactive radium from the mineral pitchblende. With the help of a fellow French scientist, their efforts led to their first Nobel Prize in 1903 for the co-discovery of spontaneous radioactivity. In 1911, Marie follow this up with her first independently earned Nobel Prize for isolating pure, metallic radium – making her the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. Unfortunately, all her inventions and discoveries related to radioactivity were the cause of her untimely illness and death. In 1934, Marie passed away from leukemia due to four decades of exposure to radiation.
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