Some Wired research recently familiarized us with the career of Keeve M. Siegel, a well-known champion of both holography and controlled nuclear fusion. Siegel’s involvement in the latter technology earned him a 1975 invite to Congress, where he was supposed to make the case for additional government funding. But, tragically, he never got the chance to wrap up his testimony. The March 19, 1975 edition of The Washington Post gave a brief account of what transpired:
Last week, as he was beginning to read a statement urging Congress to provide more funds for non-governmental fusion research activities, Keeve M. Siegel collapsed. He died a few hours later as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. His friends and associated in a little known corporation called KMS Industries Inc. attributed his death to overwork. For years, he had been pursuing, day and night, one of those ultimate dreams—the successful generation of energy, in a controllled way, from the fusion reaction that provides the power of the hydrogen bomb.
Leaving aside the whole debate over whether Siegel’s dream was actually feasible, we couldnt help but be wowed by the manner of his untimely demise. To pass away in front of Congress, while in the throes of relating the importance of one’s life’s work—has there ever been a more dramatic political death that didn’t involve violence?
The only candidate that immediately popped to mind was former Vice President Alben Barkley‘s famous outro during a speech at Washington and Lee University. Take a listen above—we’ve got it cued up to his last words, which are soon followed by thud of body meeting floor.
Anyone have a topper? Remember, no violence—the death must be due to natural causes, and it must have taken place during a public event.