Nobel, Alfred Bernhard

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Nobel, Alfred Bernhard

(äl`frĕd bĕrn`härd nōbĕl`), 1833–96, Swedish chemist and inventor. Educated in St. Petersburg, Russia, he traveled as a youth and returned to St. Petersburg in 1852 to assist his father in the development of torpedoes and mines. Manufacture of a mixture of nitroglycerinnitroglycerin
, C3H5N3O9, colorless, oily, highly explosive liquid. It is the nitric acid triester of glycerol and is more correctly called glycerol trinitrate.
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 and gunpowdergunpowder,
explosive mixture; its most common formula, called "black powder," is a combination of saltpeter, sulfur, and carbon in the form of charcoal. Historically, the relative amounts of the components have varied.
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, developed cooperatively by the family, was begun in the small Nobel works in Heleneborg, near Stockholm, in 1863. After a number of serious explosions, which killed several people, Nobel continued experimentation with nitroglycerin in order to find a safer explosive. In 1866 he perfected a combination of nitroglycerin and kieselguhr, a diatomaceous earth (see diatomdiatom
, unicellular organism of the kingdom Protista, characterized by a silica shell of often intricate and beautiful sculpturing. Most diatoms exist singly, although some join to form colonies.
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), to which he gave the name dynamitedynamite,
explosive made from nitroglycerin and an inert, porous filler such as wood pulp, sawdust, kieselguhr, or some other absorbent material. The proportions vary in different kinds of dynamite; often ammonium nitrate or sodium nitrate is added.
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. His other inventions include an explosive gelatin more powerful than dynamite and the smokeless powder Ballistite. Nobel, who inclined toward pacifism, had long had reservations about his family's industry, and he developed strong misgivings about the potential uses of his own invention. On his death in San Remo, Italy, he left a fund from the interest of which annual awards, the Nobel PrizesNobel Prize,
award given for outstanding achievement in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, peace, or literature. The awards were established by the will of Alfred Nobel, who left a fund to provide annual prizes in the five areas listed above.
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, are given for work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature, and toward the promotion of international peace.


See biography by H. Schück et al., Nobel: The Man and His Prizes (3d ed. 1972).

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In 1867, Alfred Nobel discovered how to stabilize nitroglycerin by adding diatomaceous earth.
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In this expansion of his lecture on "More than a century of Nobel Prizes" published in the Journal of the American Philosophical Society, 2002, Norrby (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences), provides biographical background on prize namesake Alfred Nobel and shares his experience being involved in the highly secretive selection process.
1833: Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and founder of the Nobel Prizes, was born in Stockholm.
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At a glittering occasion at the Sheraton Hotel in Sofia on December 11, the Swedish embassy presented--for the 11th consecutive year--scholarships in the spirit of Alfred Nobel to promising Bulgarian students.
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This biography, which accompanies an exhibition of the same name, surveys the life of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) from his childhood to his death, through the perspective of technological and social networks.
Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel - who invented dynamite - had left 94 per cent of his total assets for the establishment of five prizes.