Alfred Nobel

DEFINITION of 'Alfred Nobel'

Alfred Bernhard Nobel is the man after whom the Nobel Prize is named. Nobel, born in 1833 in Stockholm, was a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist. He patented an explosive called nitroglycerin, founded several companies and patented dynamite and gelignite, among other accomplishments. He became wealthy in the process.

BREAKING DOWN 'Alfred Nobel'

The Nobel Prize came into existence shortly after Nobel's death in 1896. He left much of his large estate to establish the prize, which was first awarded in 1901. The prize is given in several subjects, reflecting Nobel's diverse interests and abilities. These subjects are physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. The prize is a medal, certificate and cash award.

Life and Inventions of Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel was a man of many talents and creations. His father was inventor and scientist Immanuel Nobel. At one point, Alfred's mother, Andriette, ran a small store. Alfred Nobel was something of a worldwide man. He lived in Sweden, Finland and Russia, and made trips to France, Germany and the United States. He learned to communicate in several languages while growing up, specifically Swedish, Russian, English, French and German.

While in France, Nobel made contact with Ascanio Sobrero, who invented an explosive liquid known as nitroglycerine. This meeting later influenced Nobel's work on controlled detonation explosives, work that led to his invention of dynamite. In fact, Alfred Nobel patented well over 300 inventions, several of which involved explosives, biology, physiology and optics. His success led him to establish numerous businesses, among them Nitroglycerin AB in Stockholm, the Alfred Nobel & Co. Factory in Krümmel and the United States Blasting Oil Company.

Despite his involvement in explosives, Alfred Nobel was a strong promoter of world peace. Countess Bertha Kinsky, another strong promoter of peace, influenced Nobel's pacifist tendencies. The countess was once actually a respondent to an advertisement the 43-year-old Nobel published to seek a woman housekeeper and secretary. Despite a friendly connection between the two, Nobel never married, and he died in 1896.

The Nobel Prize

The name "Nobel" is most famous in connection with the Nobel Prize. Upon his death, Alfred Nobel provided a $9 million endowment fund to be used as reward to promoters of peace in various fields such as physics, chemistry and physiology. The Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, is the organization responsible for overseeing and administering the funds. Since 1901, the foundation has given out hundreds of Nobel Prizes. Among the many famous recipients of the prize are Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela.

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