The Most Destructive Chemists in History

Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel

He made an empire by selling arms and dynamite (his own invention). In 1888, his brother Ludvig died. There was a misunderstanding and French newspapers  assumed he was dead instead of Ludvig. They posted obituaries that stated things like, “The merchant of death is dead” and “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday” Alfred read the obituaries and (I’m assuming) out of regret, or at least embarrassment, established the Nobel prize. Kind of ironic, right?

Fritz Haber

Fritz Haber

Invented the Haber process…to help the Germans make bombs. Then aided the development of chemical weapons. His wife, also a chemist, was opposed to all the death and misery he was causing with his work in chemical warfare. She shot herself in the head with his revolver after the first successful use of chlorine by Germany in a battle. He departed the next morning to oversee them being used against the Russians on the Eastern Front. So yeah, his wife committed suicide in protest of chemical weapons and he… didn’t care.

Anyway, at least the guy was a genius. His invention, the Haber process is now used to make fertilizers to help feed the world. Most of us would not have been alive today without him, since without the Haber process there would not have been enough food production to feed a global population of seven billion. In other words, he saved more lives than literally any other person in history.

Thomas Midgley, Jr.

Thomas Midgley, Jr.

This person is annoying. He damaged the environment and humanity while trying to help it. In other words, he messed up. To start with, he introduced leaded gas. Next, he played a major role in replacing compounds such as ammonia and sulfur-dioxide used in refrigerators and air-conditioners with CFCs. This caused Ozone layer depletion. Midgley has literally harmed the Earth’s atmosphere more than any other organism in history.

Interestingly, after becoming severely disabled at the age of 51, he created a system of pulleys and strings to help people lift him off from the bed. He got entangled in the ropes of this system and died of strangulation at the age of 55. In other words, he died by his own hands. I wonder if this qualifies as an extremely delayed and elaborate method of suicide.


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