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Alfred Nobel, the man who constituted Nobel Prizes

Alfred Nobel, the man who constituted Nobel Prizes

Alfred Nobel was born on October 21,1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. His father Immanuel Nobel was an inventor and engineer and used to build bridges and buildings and experimented with        different ways of blasting rocks.

Though Alfred was born in Stockholm, he started his education in St. Petersburg, Russia as Immanuel had shifted their for better business opportunities. He studied under private tutors which included natural sciences, languages and literature. At the age of 17, Alfred could speak and write in Swedish, Russian, French, English and German.


Later Alfred was sent to Paris to work in the private laboratory of Professor T. J. Pelouze, a famous chemist. There he came to know about the explosive powers of nitroglycerin which he was going to use in future for his famous invention of Dynamite.

Alfred became very interested in nitroglycerin and how it could be used in construction work.        When he returned back to Russia after his studies, he worked together with his father to develop nitroglycerin as a commercially and technically useful explosive.

After working for about a year in Paris, he moved to the  United States. After five years, he returned to Russia and began working in his father's factory making military equipment for the Crimean War.  In 1859, at the war’s end, the company went bankrupt as a result of which the family had to move  back to Sweden.

After his return, Alfred concentrated on developing nitroglycerin as an explosive. In  1864, when Alfred was 29, a huge explosion in the family’s Swedish  factory killed five people, including Alfred’s younger brother Emil. Alfred found, through his experiments, that mixing nitroglycerin with a fine sand called kieselguhr would turn the liquid into paste which could be shaped into rods. These rods could then be inserted into drilling holes. The invention was made in 1866. Alfred patented it in 1867 and named it "dynamite". He also invented a detonator or blasting cap which could be set off by lighting a fuse.

Alfred was a great industrialist also having established 87 companies worldwide.

By the time of his death, Alfred had patented 355 inventions and was a very wealthy man. He was also interested in poetry and literature which is also reason for it to be included under the Nobel Prizes.

In 1888 Alfred's brother Ludvig died while visiting Cannes and a French newspaper erroneously published Alfred's obituary. It condemned him for his invention of dynamite and is said to have  brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated, Le marchand de la mort est mort ("The merchant of death is dead") and went on to say, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways  to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday". Alfred was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered. On 27 November 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Nobel  signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate  to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. After taxes  and bequests to individuals, Nobel's will allocated 94% of his total  assets, 31,225,000 Swedish kronor, to establish the five Nobel Prizes. This converted to GBP £1,687,837 at the time. In 2012, the capital was worth around SEK 3.1 billion (USD 472 million, EUR 337 million), which is almost twice the amount of the initial  capital, taking inflation into account.

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