Nobel, Alfred (Bernhard)


Nobel, Alfred (Bernhard)

biographical name

(born Oct. 21, 1833, Stockholm, Swed.—died Dec. 10, 1896, San Remo, Italy) Swedish chemist, engineer, and industrialist. His attempts to find a safe way to handle nitroglycerin resulted in the invention of dynamite and the blasting cap. He built a network of factories to manufacture dynamite and corporations to produce and market his explosives. He went on to develop more powerful explosives and to construct and perfect detonators for explosives that did not explode on simple firing (e.g., when lit with a match). Nobel registered more than 350 patents, many unrelated to explosives (e.g., artificial silk and leather). A complex personality, both dynamic and reclusive, he was a pacifist but was labeled the “merchant of death” for inventing explosives used in war. Perhaps to counter this label, he left most of his immense fortune, from worldwide explosives and oil interests, to establish the Nobel Prizes, which would become the most highly regarded of all international awards.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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