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Rudolf Diesel

Engineer / Inventor

Born: 18 March 1858
Died: 29 September 1913 (drowning)
Birthplace: Paris, France
Best known as: Inventor of the diesel engine
In 1892 German engineer Rudolf Diesel patented the engine that bears his name, an internal combustion engine that doesn't require a spark to ignite the fuel-air mixture. Diesel was born in Paris to German parents and grew up in London, Paris and Munich. In the 1880s he worked as a refrigerator engineer in Munich, but returned to Paris to experiment with engines. In 1892 he won a patent for the diesel engine, but he continued to work on its development for years. The diesel engine allowed trains and ships to operate more efficiently with oil instead of coal, and Diesel quickly became a rich man. In 1913 he vanished overboard from a steamer bound for London; his body washed up ten days later. Some believe he committed suicide and cite his neurotic personality and numerous "breakdowns," and some believe he was murdered by either Germans (who resented his lack of nationalism) or by coal industrialists (who resented his engine).
Extra credit: The first successful diesel engine was built in the United States, thanks to the financial backing of Adolphus Busch, famous brewer of Budweiser.

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