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Alfred Bernhard Nobel

(1833—1896) Swedish chemist and engineer


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(1833–1896) Swedish chemist, engineer, and inventor

Nobel left Stockholm, where he was born, in 1842 to join his father, an engineer, who had moved to St. Petersburg. He was taught chemistry by his tutors and spoke fluently in English, French, German, Swedish, and Russian. In 1850 he went to Paris to study chemistry and then went on to America for four years, before returning to work in his father's factory in St. Petersburg.

In 1859 Nobel moved back to Sweden and set up a factory there (1864) to make nitroglycerin, a liquid explosive. After an explosion at the factory in 1864 in which his brother, Emil, and four others were killed, the Swedish government would not allow the factory to be rebuilt. Nobel then started to experiment to find a more stable explosive. Discovering that nitroglycerin was easily absorbed by a dry organic packing material, he invented dynamite and the detonating cap. These were patented in 1867 (UK) and 1868 (Unites States). From such work and from oil fields in Russia that he owned, Nobel amassed a vast fortune. He traveled widely and was a committed pacifist. He left the bulk of his money in trust for international awards – the Nobel Prizes for peace, literature, physics, chemistry, and medicine. The Nobel Prize for economics was introduced in his honor in 1969 and financed by the Swedish National Bank.

Subjects: Social Sciences — Science and Mathematics.


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