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Noble Alfred.

posted Dec 29, 2014, 10:14 PM by   [ updated Jul 22, 2019, 10:37 PM by Upali Salpadoru ]

 Alfred Noble. 
           1833 -1896

"He  left a fortune for Peace,                                                                                          Literature and science." 
 He made the safe explosive DYNAMITE.
 "Birth of an infant is an occasion for the lady Luck to smile."

   When Alfred was born,  it was exactly the opposite. His parents Andriette and Immanuel Nobel had to face many  setbacks. 

 Some barges belonging to their construction company sank resulting in heavy losses. His father, who was unable to keep the company floating, left the family in   search of employment in Russia. Mother started a grocery store to keep the home fires burning.

   Immanuel Nobel, though bankrupt, had the technical skills in his blood. He was a direct descendant from a technical genius of the 17th Century in Sweden,   Immanuel started a work shop to make mines and convinced the Tsar that they could be used to block enemy ships. His mines were simple wooden casks containing gun powder. When submerged below the surface of the Gulf of Finland, the British Royal Navy could not approach the firing range of St. Petersburg during the Crimean war 1853-1856.He was also a pioneer in arms manufacture and in designing steam engines. Successful in his industrial and business ventures, Immanuel Nobel brought his family to St. Petersburg.

  1850 Age 17 yrs.

    His father provided a proper education to his sons employing private teachers. The curriculum included natural sciences, languages and literature. By this time  Alfred Nobel was fluent in Swedish, Russian, French, English and German.

  Alfred’s main interest at the time, to the utter dismay of his father, was poetry. 

  In order to kindle an interest in the technical field his father sent him abroad for a two year course in chemical engineering. After a period of globe-trotting, which included Sweden, Germany, France and U.S. he fell in love with Paris. 

  There he worked in the private laboratory of Professor T. J. Pelouze, a famous chemist. There he learned that a young Italian, Ascanio Sobrero, had invented highly explosive liquid called nitroglycerine, Nitro glycerine which was made by mixing glycerine, sulphuric acid and nitric acid had no earthly use as it was dangerously explosive. 

  Alfred started experimenting with it hoping to make it safe for practical purposes.

1852  Age 19 yrs.

  Alfred returned to the family enterprise. Along with his father he performed experiments to develop nitroglycerine as a commercially and technically viable explosive. The company which had an immediate success supplying the requirements of the Russians became bankrupt as the war ended.

 This time Immanuel returned to Stockholm with Alfred and Emil. His other two sons remained in St Petersburg and salvaged the family business. Went on to develop the oil industry in Southern Russia and became some of the wealthiest persons in that part of the world.

1864  age 31 Yrs.

  The two brothers Alfred and Emil concentrated on developing ‘nitroglycerine’ as a safe explosive. They encountered several serious accidents. In one such accident  Emil was killed with several others. The authorities forbade further experimentation with nitroglycerine within the city of Stockholm.

  Alfred, instead of giving up set up his laboratory in a barge anchored on Lake Mälaren. In order to make the explosive safer to handle he added various substances. In a few months he found that mixing nitroglycerine with silica would turn the liquid into a paste which could be shaped into rods. These could be inserted into drillings and exploded to blast the rocks.

1867  Age 33 Yrs.

  He patented this material under the name ‘dynamite’.

  In order to ignite the dynamite he invented a blasting cap called a detonator. At the same time pneumatic drill and various tools for mining became popular. These inventions reduced the cost of blasting rocks, drilling tunnels, and many other forms of construction work. There onwards the demand for dynamite and detonating caps grew very rapidly.

 Alfred Nobel built factories in 90 different places in 20 countries. He lived in Paris but kept on visiting the work sites every now and then. He was described as the “Europe’s richest vagabond” by the novelist Victor Hugo. His travels and business activities did not deter him from scientific research.

  Instead of indulging in super luxury comfort he preferred to be working on development of explosives, making synthetic rubber and leather, or artificial silk. In one of his laboratories spread across Germany, Scotland, France Sweden and Italy. 

1877  Age 43 Yrs.

 He did not have much of a private life.  He published this newspaper advertisement. "Wealthy, highly-educated elderly gentleman seeks lady of mature age, versed in languages, as secretary and supervisor of household."

The successful candidate was an Austrian Lady, Countess Bertha Kinsky.

Countess B
ertha von Suttner

Countess Bertha worked for Alfred only for a short time. She returned to Austria and married Count Arthur von Suttner. Alfred and Bertha remained friends for a long time. Bertha became very popular as an activist critical of the arms race. She even wrote a book titled “Lay down Your Arms”. 

  1896  63 yrs.

    When he died in 1896 he possessed 355 patents to his credit.

                     After his death


 The Norwegian Parliament awarded the Peace Prize for peace to Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner, née Countess Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau."

  Some of the companies founded by Nobel still exist. Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), Great Britain; Société Centrale de Dynamite, France and Dyno Industries in Norway. Late in his life he acquired AB Bofors in Karlskoga, where Björkborn Manor became his Swedish home. Alfred Nobel died in San Remo, Italy, on December 10, 1896. His will revealed that his entire fortune was to be used for Prizes for Physics, Chemistry, medicine, Literature and Peace.

  The noble price is an international award given yearly since 1901 for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and for peace. In 1968, the Bank of Sweden instituted the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. The Prize Winners are announced in October every year. They receive their awards (a prize amount, a gold medal and a diploma) on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.  758 individuals and 18 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize up to 2005. Some Laureates and organizations have been awarded more than once.

   Björkborn Manor is now a museum where visitors can go back in time and imagine what it was like when Alfred Nobel spent his summers here. Apart from the manor, another point of interest is the laboratory where Nobel continued with his experiments before his death in 1896.

Björkborn Manor and Laboratory