December 05, 2014

Imagine opening up the newspaper one morning and reading an obituary – yours.
A man named Alfred had this experience in 1888, when a newspaper mistakenly published his obit instead of one for his recently deceased brother, Ludwig. The newspaper coined Alfred “the merchant of death” – an epithet that hit a little too close to home.
A fascination with chemistry – and the power of nitroglycerine – had propelled Alfred’s inventions for years; no cost — including the death of another brother — could stop him from experimenting with the clear, odorless, and dangerous liquid.

He eventually patented a stick-like package for his chemical concoction and called it dynamite.
This invention – and other explosives – made Alfred incredibly wealthy throughout his life.
He also became very good friends, ironically, with peace activist Bertha Kinsky. But she eventually married someone else, and Alfred never married or had children.
When he died in 1896, he left his fortune to fund awards for people working in a variety of fields, including a peace prize – the cause that Bertha held so dear.

dynamite, Alfred Nobel, prizes, explosives, history

Previous Post

Memory, Distractions, and Age

Next Post

The People Powering AI Decisions

comments powered by Disqus