"If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied."
Alfred Nobel (October 21, 1833—December 10, 1896) was a Swedish scientist and inventor. He is credited with inventing dynamite, and perhaps even more famously, is remembered as the creator of the Nobel Prize.
Nobel was born in Stockholm to Immanuel Nobel and Karolina Andriette. His father too had been interested in technology, and taught Nobel the basics of explosives. The senior nobel had attended the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
In 1837, Immanuel Nobel moved to St. Petersburg and began manufacturing machine tools and explosives. By 1842, he was able to bring his family over, including Alfred. Nobel and his brothers were given a well-rounded education, with Nobel excelling in physics, chemistry, and literature.
After completing his studies, Nobel traveled Europe and worked with some of the eras most innovative researchers in the field of chemistry including Nikolai Zinin, T. J. Pelouze, and Ascanio Sobrero. Sobrero had invented the explosive liquid nitroglycerine, but nothing commercial had come of it.
Nobel returned to Stockholm and attempted to harness the power of nitroglycerine. Sadly, his younger brother, Emil, was killed during one of Nobel's tests along with four other people. (Image source)
By 1866, Nobel was able to turn the dangerous explosive into something commercially viable—dynamite. Beginning in 1867, it was being used in mining exploits around the globe.
In 1875, Nobel invented gelignite, more stable and powerful than dynamite, and in went on to patent ballistite, a predecessor of cordite.
Nobel was issued 350 patents during his lifetime.
Nobel had a secretary, Bertha von Suttner, for a short time. Though she ultimately returned to her native Austria to marry, but the two exchanged letters throughout the rest of Nobel's life. Von Suttner devoted herself to peace-building activities. It has been said that she was the inspiration for Nobel including peace in the list of specialties to be awarded a Nobel Prize.
In 1888, after his brother's death, a French newspaper published Nobel's obituary by mistake. The negative tone surrounding the way his accomplishments were described bothered Nobel. After he died in 1896, it was found in his will that he wished to give his fortunes out in the form of prizes for those who had done good for humanity in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.
Alfred Nobel Medal 1975 by Richard Renninger (source)
- Birthday Date: Tuesday, 21 October 2014