Short Biography of Alfred Nobel
Recognized as the one of the most significant people in the world, Alfred Nobel would leave a legacy that recognized incredible feats made in the fields of science, literature, and peace. But, his legacy would be built on an empire of explosives, where Nobel made millions manufacturing, distributing, and selling dynamite and other explosives worldwide.
After living in St. Petersburg, Russia during his childhood, young Alfred witnessed what his older brother and father had attempted to do – manufacture safe explosives that could be shipped and used safely around the entire world. It should be noted that their goals were not to aid countries in war, per se, but to help those countries better their own infrastructure and wealth with tunnels, roads, and mining. Accidents from explosives took millions of lives and the Nobel family worked hard to manufacture safer methods for their use.
In Heleneborg, where the family’s factory was located, an explosion killed Alfred’s younger brother and numerous workers. From then on, Alfred knew he would work to make explosives safe. He knew his and his family’s work were cutting-edge and all he would have to do was to better their research and findings.
Alfred Nobel figured out nitroglycerin could be developed so it wasn’t so volatile, and in 1867 he patented his invention he dubbed “dynamite” – a mixture of nitroglycerin and natural elements of the Earth. He also invented the lesser-known Gelignite. Made with nitroglycerin and gun-cotton, it was much more powerful than dynamite. But, it was dynamite that was safer and what he would mass market, setting up factories worldwide.
The Nobel Peace Prize came about when Alfred Nobel was reported dead in a French newspaper. While he didn’t die, his obituary called him “The Merchant of Death” due to his involvement in producing dynamite and other explosives that had been used for industry and war. Upon reflection, Nobel decided to set up a fund where the majority of his estate would go to fund the newly devised awards in different fields. Open to some interpretation, the prizes are the most distinguished and recognized today. The award for literature was Nobel’s fondest. His own play entitled Nemesis, a tragedy, was published posthumously and was released only in Swedish-Esperanto.
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