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Fascinating facts about Alfred Bernhard Nobel
 inventor of dynamite in 1866.
Alfred Nobel
AT A GLANCE:
In 1866, Alfred Nobel discovered that mixing nitroglycerine with silica would turn the liquid into a paste which could be shaped into rods of a size and form suitable for insertion into drilling holes. In 1867 he patented this material under the name of dynamite. To be able to detonate the dynamite rods he also invented a detonator (blasting cap) which could be ignited by lighting a fuse. The market for dynamite and detonating caps grew very rapidly and Alfred Nobel also proved himself to be a very skillful entrepreneur and businessman.
Inventor: Alfred Bernhard Nobel
Portrait of Alfred Nobel courtesy Nobel Foundation
Criteria: First to invent. First to patent. Entrepreneur.
Birth: October 21, 1833, Stockholm, Sweden
Death: December 10, 1896, Sanremo, Italy
Nationality: Swedish

Alfred Bernhard Nobel, Swedish chemist, inventor, and philanthropist, born in Stockholm. After receiving an education in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and in the United States, where he studied mechanical engineering, he returned to St. Petersburg to work under his father, developing mines, torpedoes, and other explosives. In a family-owned factory in Heleneborg, Sweden, he sought to develop a safe way to handle nitroglycerin, after a factory explosion in 1864 killed his younger brother and four other people. In 1866 Nobel achieved his goal; by using an organic packing material to reduce the volatility of the nitroglycerin, he produced what he called dynamite. He later produced ballistite, one of the first smokeless powders. At the time of his death he controlled factories for the manufacture of explosives in many parts of the world. His will provided that the major portion of his $9 million estate be set up as a fund to establish yearly prizes for merit in physics, chemistry, medicine and physiology, literature, and world peace.

TO LEARN MORE

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ON THE BOOKSHELF:

Alfred Nobel: A Biography
Kenne Fant / Hardcover 342 pages / Arcade Publishers; (1993)

The inventor of dynamite and smokeless explosives wasn't consistently ambivalent about where technical progress was heading.
The Nobel Prize: The First 100 Years
by Agneta Wallin Levinovitz, Nils Ringertz / Paperback: 248 pages / World Scientific Pub Co; (2001)

In celebration of the centennial of the Nobel Prize in 2001, this book offers a clear perspective on the development of human civilization over the past hundred years.
Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize
by Ulf Larsson / Paperback: 228 pages / Science History Pubns (April 16, 2001)
Published in conjunction with the Centennial Exhibit of the Nobel Prize, this collection of essays and historical photos explores the achievements of Nobel Laureates from diverse fields and describes the inspirational milieus in which they worked.

ON THE SCREEN:
Dynamite
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
The solid explosive invented by Alfred Nobel has not only changed the way we live, it has changed the face of the earth.
Inventions of War
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
War spurs innovation and invention. At no other time is there a more focused effort on common goals, with a free flow of money and manpower supporting the most brilliant minds in the name of developing devices that will help bring about the swift and successful end to the fight.


ON THE WEB:
Alfred Nobel Biography
His family was descended from Olof Rudbeck, the best-known technical genius of Sweden's 17th century era as a great power in northern Europe.
(URL: www.nobel.se/nobel/alfred-nobel)
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Located at Inventure Place, the online home of creative minds. Inducted Alfred Nobel in October, 1999 for his invention of Improved Explosive Compounds Dynamite, Patent Number 78,317
(URL: www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/112.html)

Inventing Dynamite
A meeting with Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero, inventor of nitroglycerine, led to Nobel's invention of dynamite. Because nitroglycerine and its production were difficult to control -- an explosion killed Nobel's brother Emil in 1864 -- Nobel tried adding different substances to make it safer
(URL: www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/nobel.100/overview.html)

The Nobel Prize
The Prize Winners are announced in October every year. They receive their awards (a prize amount, a gold medal and a diploma) on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.
(URL: nobelprize.org/index.html)

Encarta Encyclopedia
The online version is your gateway to 16,000 abriged references, articles and world atlas.
(URL: encarta.msn.com/)

NOBEL e-MUSEUM
The official web site of The Nobel Foundation
(URL:www.nobel.se)

WORDS OF WISDOM:
"The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." - Excerpt from the Will of Alfred Nobel

DID YOU KNOW?

  • A holder of more than 355 patents, he also wrote poetry and drama and even seriously considered becoming a writer.
  • Alfred Nobel was born in 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. His family was descended from Olof Rudbeck, the best-known technical genius of Sweden's 17th century era as a great power in northern Europe.
  • He died of a cerebral haemorrhage in his home in San Remo, Italy on December 10, 1896.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised October 18, 2006.
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