Alfred Nobel: Life and Career

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Alfred Nobel

Alfred Bernhard Nobel

(21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He was the inventor of dynamite. Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments. Nobel held 350 different patents, dynamite being the most famous. He used his fortune to posthumously institute the Nobel Prizes. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him. His name also survives in modern-day companies such as Dynamite Nobel and Akzo Nobel, which are descendants of the companies Nobel himself established.

Life and Career

Born in Stockholm, Alfred Nobel was the fourth son of Immanuel Nobel, an inventor and engineer, and Karolina Andriette Nobel The couple married in 1827 and had eight children. The family was impoverished, and only Alfred and his three brothers survived past childhood. Through his father, Alfred Nobel was a descendant of the Swedish scientist Olaus Rudbeck.

Nobel went to the only school he had ever attended as a child, the Jacobs Apologistic School in Stockholm. As a young man, Nobel studied with chemist Nikolai Zinic, in 1850, went to Paris to further the work; and, at 18, he went to the United States for four years to study chemistry, collaborating for a short period under inventor John Ericsson.

Nobel invented dynamite in 1867, a substance easier and safer to handle than the more unstable nitroglycerin. Dynamite was patented in the US and the UK and was used extensively in mining and the building of transport networks internationally. In 1875 Nobel invented gelignite, more stable and powerful than dynamite, and in 1887 patented ballsitite, a forerunner of cordite. Nobel was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1884 and received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in 1893.

During his...
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