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A biography of alfred nobel a scientist

Alfred Nobel

See Article History Alternative Title: Alfred Nobel was the fourth son of Immanuel and Caroline Nobel. Immanuel was an inventor and engineer who had married Caroline Andrietta Ahlsell in 1827. The couple had eight children, of whom only Alfred and three brothers reached adulthood.

Alfred Nobel Biography

Alfred was prone to illness as a child, but he enjoyed a close relationship with his mother and displayed a lively intellectual curiosity from an early age. He was interested in explosivesand he learned the fundamentals of engineering from his father. Immanuel, meanwhile, had failed at various business ventures until moving in 1837 to St. Petersburg in Russia, where he prospered as a manufacturer of explosive mines and machine tools. The Nobel family left Stockholm in 1842 to join the father in St.

He was a competent chemist by age 16 and was fluent in English, French, German, and Russian as well as Swedish. Alfred Nobel left Russia in 1850 to spend a year in Paris studying chemistry and then spent four years in the United States working under the direction of John Ericssonthe builder of the ironclad warship Monitor. Upon his return to St. After the war ended in 1856, the company had difficulty switching to the peacetime production of steamboat machinery, and it went bankrupt in 1859.

Alfred and his parents returned to Swedenwhile his brothers Robert and Ludvig stayed behind in Russia to salvage what was left of the family business. At the time, the only dependable explosive for use in mines was black powdera form of gunpowder. A recently discovered liquid compoundnitroglycerinwas a much more powerful explosive, but it was so unstable that it could not be handled with any degree of safety.

Alfred Nobel’s life and work

In 1865 Nobel invented an improved detonator called a blasting cap ; it consisted of a small metal cap containing a charge of mercury fulminate that can be exploded by either shock or moderate heat.

The invention of the blasting cap inaugurated the modern use of high explosives. Nitroglycerin itself, however, remained difficult to transport and extremely dangerous to handle. Undaunted by this tragic accident, Nobel built several factories to manufacture nitroglycerin for use in concert with his blasting caps.

These factories were as safe as the knowledge of the time allowed, but accidental explosions still occasionally occurred. By chance, he discovered that nitroglycerin was absorbed to dryness by kieselguhra porous siliceous earth, and the resulting mixture was much safer to use and easier to handle than nitroglycerin alone.

He also continued to experiment in search of better ones, and in 1875 he invented a more powerful form of dynamite, blasting gelatinwhich he patented the following year.

Again by chance, he had discovered that mixing a solution of nitroglycerin with a fluffy substance known as nitrocellulose results in a tough, plastic material that has a high water resistance and greater blasting power than ordinary dynamites.

  • But Alfred and his two brothers decided to remain in Russia in order to try and save what was left of the business;
  • He loved literature, had written poems and a play in his earlier years, and built up a large book collection;
  • It was in 1864 that a huge explosion in the Swedish factory of Alfred killed 5 people, including his younger brother Emil;
  • Alfred was an intelligent and curious child;
  • His father Immanuel Nobel was an engineer;
  • Alfred did not attend school but received private tutoring from good teachers.

In 1887 Nobel introduced ballistiteone of the first nitroglycerin smokeless powders and a precursor of cordite. Although Nobel held the patents to dynamite and his other explosives, he was in constant conflict with competitors who stole his processes, a fact that forced him into protracted patent litigation on several occasions. Besides explosives, Nobel made many other inventions, such as artificial silk and leather, and altogether he registered more than 350 patents in various countries.

Although his business interests required him to travel almost constantly, he remained a lonely recluse who was prone to fits of depression.

He led a retired and simple life and was a man of ascetic habits, yet he could be a courteous dinner host, a good listener, and a man of incisive wit. He never married, and apparently preferred the joys of inventing to those of romantic attachment. He had an abiding interest in literature and wrote plays, novels, and poems, almost all of which remained unpublished.

  • Three years earlier, Sobrero had invented nitroglycerine, a highly explosive liquid;
  • He never married, and apparently preferred the joys of inventing to those of romantic attachment;
  • His experiment was used at mines and construction lands;
  • This document was compiled by the editors at Nobelprize;
  • In 1865 Nobel invented an improved detonator called a blasting cap ; it consisted of a small metal cap containing a charge of mercury fulminate that can be exploded by either shock or moderate heat.

He had amazing energy and found it difficult to relax after intense bouts of work. Among his contemporaries, he had the reputation of a liberal or even a socialist, but he actually distrusted democracyopposed suffrage for women, and maintained an attitude of benign paternalism toward his many employees.

Though Nobel was essentially a pacifist and hoped that the destructive powers of his inventions would help bring an end to war, his view of mankind and nations was pessimistic. By 1895 Nobel had developed angina pectorisand he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his villa in San Remo, Italyin 1896.

At his death his worldwide business empire consisted of more than 90 factories manufacturing explosives and ammunition.

  • It was at this time that Alfred Nobel began to take an interest in nitroglycerine - an extremely explosive liquid invented by the Italian Ascanio Sobrero;
  • Again by chance, he had discovered that mixing a solution of nitroglycerin with a fluffy substance known as nitrocellulose results in a tough, plastic material that has a high water resistance and greater blasting power than ordinary dynamites;
  • As an inventor and man of business, Alfred Nobel was both determined and confident.

The opening of his will, which he had drawn up in Paris on November 27, 1895, and had deposited in a bank in Stockholm, contained a great surprise for his family, friends, and the general public. He had always been generous in humanitarian and scientific philanthropies, and he left the bulk of his fortune in trust to establish what came to be the most highly regarded of international awards, the Nobel Prizes. Page one of Alfred Bernhard Nobel's four-page will. The document contains the source of the Nobel Prizes.

He was reticent about himself, and he confided in no one about his decision in the months preceding his death. The most plausible assumption is that a bizarre incident in 1888 may have triggered the train of reflection that culminated in his bequest for the Nobel Prizes. It is certain that the actual awards he instituted reflect his lifelong interest in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology, and literature.

There is also abundant evidence that his friendship with the prominent Austrian pacifist Bertha von Suttner inspired him to establish the prize for peace. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: