Top 5 Chemists Killed or Injured by their Experiments
Died while testing his discoveries
Scheele was a brilliant pharmaceutical chemist who discovered many chemical elements-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, fortunately, managed to survive his taste-test of hydrogen cyanide HCN. But alas, his luck was to run out: he died of symptoms strongly resembling mercury poisoning.
Blinded himself in one eye
Robert Bunsen is probably best known for having given his name to the Bunsen burner which he helped to popularize. He started out his scientific career in organic chemistry but nearly died twice of arsenic poisoning. Shortly after his near death experiences, he lost the sight in his right eye after an explosion of Cacodyl Cyanide. These being excellent reasons to change fields, he moved in to Inorganic Chemistry and went on to develop the field of spectroscopy.
Sir Humphrey Davy
Disaster, disaster & disasters
Sir Humphrey Davy, the brilliant British Chemist and inventor, got a very bumpy start to his science career. As a young apprentice he was fired from his job at an apothecary because he caused too many explosions! When he eventually took up the field of chemistry, he had a habit of inhaling the various gasses he was dealing with. Fortunately this bad 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 left him an invalid for the remaining two decades of his life. During this time he also damaged his eyes in a Nitrogen Trichloride explosion permanently.
Suffered Chronic Poisoning
Thanks to the injury to Sir Humphrey Davy’s eyes, Faraday became an apprentice to him. He went on to improve on Davy’s methods of electrolysis and to make important discoveries in the field of Electromagnetism. Unfortunately for him, some of Davy’s misfortune rubbed off and Faraday also suffered damage to his eyes in a nitrogen chloride explosion. He spent the remainder of his life suffering chronic chemical poisoning.
Died of Radiation Exposure
In 1898, Curie and her husband, Pierre, discovered radium. She spent the remainder of her life performing radiation research and studying radiation therapy. Her constant exposure to radiation led to her contracting leukemia and she died in 1934.