Alfred Nobel loved peace, it just so happened that he create the most devastating weapon in history, dynamite. Born in 1833 he was able to bring the detonation of nitroglycerin in 1863, an extremely dangerous substance to work with. In 1865 he developed the blasting cap making his product even safer, but still not ideal. In fact, in 1864 his factory blew up killing his little brother and several co-workers. In 1867 he discovered the use of kieselguhr, a porous material, would stabilize the nitro even further and dynamite was born. He named it for Dynamis, a Greek word for miraculous power.
Nobel’s invention made his a wealthy man, wealthy beyond most of our dreams. But he regretted his invention, eventually winding up with the name”Merchant of Death”. He continued to work on his invention making blasting gelatin in 1875 and ballistite, a smokeless nitro powder, in 1887. Most of his work came in Stockholm, Sweden, his home after living for a short time in Russia as a child. When he died on December 10th, 1896 his will stated that his fortune was to be given out in awards to the best of the best in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. 5 years after his death the awards began being issued from Stockholm.
Recipients receive a gold medal and nearly 1,400,000 in cash. The awards are given out on December 10th every year, on the anniversary of Nobel’s death. It is considered one of the most prestigious awards given to anyone, whether Bob Dylan thinks so or not!
Among those holding this honor are Marie Curie, Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Dalai Lama. Though some who have been given the award remain in question, most have deserved the award for their accomplishments serving mankind.
How to celebrate – Look up all the award winners and see how many you feel have accomplished something worthy of the Nobel Prize for yourself. Read about Nobel’s troubled life. Watch for the list of award winners given out every year.