Francis Bacon was a 17th century English philosopher, scientist, author, and all-around smart dude with a cool last name. He’s widely regarded as the father of the scientific method, and often debated to be the true author of Shakespeare’s plays.
As the father of the scientific method, Bacon practiced empiricism—the gaining of information through sensory experience—and as such he was a devoted experimenter. He conducted thousands of experiments throughout his life in search of knowledge, but the last one killed him. Fascinated with the process of preserving meat, Francis went out in a winter storm one day, bought a chicken, killed it, and stuffed it with snow. The chicken was preserved, Francis wasn’t. He immediately caught a bad case of pneumonia and died. We’re thinking the reporters had a field day with the next morning’s headlines: CHICKEN AND BACON GO TOGETHER.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave with eyes shut and your fingers in your ears, you’ve heard of this one. Beloved and eccentric naturalist Steve Irwin loved animals; so much so he started a wildly popular TV show, traversing the globe to find all things amazing and intruiging in the animal kingdom. Usually, this would qualify as the deadliest animals in existence, which, when encountered, Steve would usually leap upon as if trying to subdue a greased pig. He’d let out some charming Australian-ism, get very muddy/wet/beat to shit, and then breathily explain what happened to the camera. We loved it, and the animal usually puttered off wondering what the fuck a pudgy white dude had just given it hell.
He was doing something in that vein on a fateful day in September of 2006—swimming above an adult Sting Ray. It became threatened and reacted in a way that only Sting Ray’s can: by flipping out the 8-inch barb on it’s tail, directly up into Steve’s heart. Apparently, it was over faster than we were on Prom night.
A global reaction followed, as the world mourned the unexpected death of one of its favorite and most colorful personalities. Yes, it was ironic Steve caught the wrong end of an animal’s malice (or the right end, if you’re the animal), but we imagine he’d have had it no other way.
In other news, don’t fuck with Sting Rays.
Jim Fixx was almost single-handedly responsible for turning running for exercise into the sport it is today. He published a book in the 70’s—The Complete Book of Running—which became a big bestseller and gave him a following of millions. He appeared on TV, gave lectures, and was a real-life testament to the health benefits of regular running (he went from obese to athletic and trim). Soon people everywhere were doing as Jim Fixx was… getting up everyday to run in the name of cardiovascular health.
Meanwhile Jim got up one day to run in the name of cardiovascular health, had a heart attack, and literally fell down dead.
The autopsy revealed that Jimbo’s heart had acute atherosclerosis—clogging of the arteries—a result of those previous decades putting down two packs a day and looking like a human manatee.
Timothy Treadwell’s love for bears began 13 years before his death. After nearly dying from a heroin overdose in the late 80’s—very fashionable for the time—he decided to leave the modern urban world, with all its dangers and pitfalls, to go live amongst wild meat-eating 900-pound Grizzly bears.
But wait, the irony train is only stopping at this station, so all aboard. Treadwell became fanatic about protecting the Grizzlies, and his loony self-anointment as a kind of Christ figure for the Grizzlies gained him notoriety. He started giving speeches in school assemblies, made an appearance on the Discovery Channel, and even landed on a segment of the David Letterman Show. The National Park Service, however, had a different take; they appreciated his intentions, but asked him to stop as his methods were dreadfully wrong. Sort of like your average hand job.
Timothy did not stop. In the fall of 2003, at the tail end of a 13-month stay in Katmai, a Grizzly bear wandered into his camp, probably gave Timothy a high five for making it easy, and then promptly ate him. And then ate his girlfriend. The only thing the park rangers found were his head with spine still attached, a very satisfied Grizzly (they shot it and found the rest), and—in a really charming twist that’s appropriate for retelling in wedding speeches—a video camera (with lens cap on) that had recorded the horrific audio of the entire attack.
You know the details already, probably. Jimi Heselden was the wealthy business man who owned the company that makes the technically-cool-but-incredibly-unsexy Segway. He was found one morning at the bottom of a 30-foot cliff on his property, along with a Segway. Indeed Jimi had mistakenly driven off the edge the night before too meet his maker. We’re not going to make any bad puns, but we’ll say that it’s tragic he died when his life and business were really on a roll. And falling to your death isn’t exactly a great um, segue to the afterlife. Ok these puns have wheeled out of control. Alright that was the last one for reals. As Heselden was alone, no one can be sure exactly what happened but we imagine it went something like this…