Alfred Nobel (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Although Nobel is remembered for inventing dynamite and the blasting cap that ignites it, and although he held 355 patents for his inventions, he will be most remembered for the provision he made in his last will for the distribution of the income from the bulk of his estate to provide annual prizes to those who confer upon humankind the greatest benefits in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.
Alfred Bernhard Nobel spent his life in one sort of pursuit yet is enshrined in history for something quite different. Born in Stockholm to Immanuel and Andriette Nobel, Alfred was the fourth of their sons. His father was a visionary, an inventor whose fortunes swung from one extreme to another. When the family’s fortunes were reduced, his mother operated a food shop to supplement their income.
Just before Alfred’s birth, Immanuel’s business in Sweden foundered. In 1837, Immanuel made an attempt to reestablish himself in Finland but failed. By 1842, however, he was a modestly successful manufacturer of mechanical devices in St. Petersburg, Russia. He flourished there until 1858, when the Russian government canceled its contracts, creating for him a new round of financial difficulties.
During his time in Russia, Immanuel had become fascinated with the explosive qualities of nitroglycerin, realizing that if the substance could be...
(The entire section is 2007 words.)
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