Caroline Nobel gave birth to Alfred Nobel on 21st October 1833 in the Swedish city of Stockholm. Alfred Nobel’s father was Immanuel Nobel, an inventor and engineer (Bergengren 1960, pp.2-3). In his childhood, Alfred was often ailing even though he remained ever lively. Immanuel went to St. Petersburg to work in a factor producing explosives after Alfred’s fourth birthday. In 1842, Caroline, Alfred, and Alfred’s seven siblings went to live with Immanuel in St. Petersburg (Evlanoff & Fluor 1969).
In Russia, Alfred was taught by private tutors. He became quite knowledgeable in chemistry. As well, he became quite fluent in Swedish, French, Russian, English as well as German. When Alfred turned 18, he went to study chemistry for a year in Paris and then went to the US for five years (Sohlman 1983). He left the US for Russia, where he worked in a factory put up by his father to manufacture military equipment meant for use in the then ongoing Crimean War.
When the war ended in 1859, the whole of Immanuel’s family went to back to Stockholm, where Alfred experimented widely with diverse explosives in his family’s factory (Fant & Ruuth 2012; Jorpes 1959). An explosive went off accidently in the factory in 1864, leading to several deaths (Wargin & Pullen 2009). The explosive motivated Alfred to design and build safe explosives. In 1867, he developed dynamite from a permeable substance and nitroglycerin (Sri Kantha 1997; Williams 1974).
Negative media reactions to the development of dynamite persuaded Alfred to commit a significant portion of own estate to honoring those who excel in literature, peace engagements, medicine, chemistry as well as physics through what were later christened as Nobel Prizes. Notably, Sveriges Riksbank established an economics Nobel Prize in mid-1968 in Alfred’s honor. Stroke led to Alfred’s death on 10th December 1896 (Larsson & Nobelmuseet 2008; Ståhle 1978). He passed on in the Italian city of San Remo.
Bergengren, E 1960, Alfred Nobel, Geber, Stockholm.
Evlanoff, M & Fluor, M 1969, Alfred Nobel – The Loneliest Millionaire, Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles.
Fant, K & Ruuth, M 2012, Alfred Nobel, Constable & Robinson, New York.
Larsson, U & Nobelmuseet, N 2008, Alfred Nobel: Networks of innovation, Nobel Museum, Stockholm.
Sohlman, R 1983, The Legacy of Alfred Nobel, The Bodley Head, London.
Ståhle, NK 1978, Alfred Nobel and the Nobel prizes, Nobel Foundation, Stockholm.
Wargin, K & Pullen, Z 2009, Alfred Nobel: The man behind the Peace Prize, Sleeping Bear, Ann Arbor.
Williams, TI 1974, Alfred Nobel: Pioneer of high explosives, Wayland, London.
Jorpes, JE 1959, “Alfred Nobel”, British Medical Journal, vol.3, no.5113, pp.1-6.
Sri Kantha, S 1997, “Could nitroglycerine poisoning be the cause of Alfred Nobel’s anginal pains and premature death?” Medical Hypotheses, vol.49, pp.303-306.
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