Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25: Alfred Nobel

On this date in History: 1867

Alfred Nobel invents dynamite.

Nitroglycerine was the blasting material used to blast through rocks but the instability of the material made the work very dangerous. When an explosion in one of the family’s explosives factories killed nine people, including Nobel’s brother Emil, Alfred was motivated to make a safer explosive.  Nobel mixed it with silica, making a paste that could be formed into the new material called dynamite, which was also better to use as it could be shaped into cylinder shapes for insertion into mining drilling holes.

In 1888, Alfred’s brother Ludwig died and the papers printed Alfred’s obituary in error, with some scathing remarks about the terrible destructive device he had invented and how he had gained his wealth by killing mass number of people.  Nobel was a pacifist who liked poetry. 

Concerned about  how he would be remembered and intent on saving the family name, Alfred designated a portion of his estate to established the Nobel Peace prize, honoring outstanding achievements in multiple fields and promoting peace. His will left US$250 million, about 94% of his estate, to fund the Nobel Peace Prize.

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