We all have heard of Nobel Prize Awards, one of the most famous, prestigious and esteemed awards of the Planet. But how many of you know after whom are these awards named? We are talking about the inventor of the best known and widely used explosives, ‘dynamite’. He is Sir Alfred Nobel.

Born on 21st October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, Sir Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish businessman, chemist, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist. He is well known around the world for his work in various fields and his inventions. To our surprise, Mr Nobel has 355 patents registered in his name. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him.

Of all the discoveries and inventions that he made, he is most renowned for his work in the field of explosives. During 1880s people started to name him as ‘The Merchant of Death’. Why? You will know.

On his birth anniversary, here are some of the most interesting facts and pieces of information, that you need to know about Sir Alfred Bernhard Nobel.

1. Alfred Nobel was the son of Immanuel Nobel (Father) & Carolina Andriette Nobel (Mother). His father was also an engineer, inventor & and experimentalist who had expertly experimented several ways of blasting rocks. Apart from this, his father had invented modern plywood and had worked on the torpedo. Apart from this, his father was a successful manufacturer of machine tools and explosives too.


2. He was the 4th child of his parents who had a total of 8 children. However, he and his 3 brothers only could survive post-childhood. The rest 4, unfortunately, had a different fate.

3. At the age of 18, he left Russia and went to Paris to study chemistry. After 1 year in Paris, it moved to the USA. During his stay in Paris, he met Ascanio Sobrero, the inventor of Nitroglycerin. Sobrero had warned Alfred about using nitroglycerin. On the contrary, after this, Alfred became more interested in making nitroglycerin more safe and usable. As a result, after his return to Russia, Alfred worked together with his father to develop nitroglycerin as a commercially useful substance.

4. When Alfred was 29, a huge explosion took place in Nobel Family’s Swedish Factory, killing 5 people present at the spot. Unfortunately, Alfred’s younger brother, Emil was one of the fives to lose their lives in the incident.

5. With his experiments in nitroglycerine, Alfred mixed it with an absorbent inert substance. This way he was able to develop the world’s first safely manageable explosive ‘Dynamite’ which was very easy to handle. ‘Dynamite’ was named by Alfred after the Greek word for power ‘dynamis’. He got it patented in 1867.

6. Alred’s first patent was a Gas Meter, which he got patented in 1857. During his life, he had invented and patented 350 different things, internationally. His major inventions include detonator, blasting cap and ballistite. It is till day used as a rocket propellant. Apart from this, he had established & owned 90 armaments, chemical & weapon factories including Bofors & Dynamit Nobel.

7. On the death of Alfred’s elder brother, Ludvig Nobel, a French newspaper erroneously published the obituary of Alfred instead. Titled “The Merchant of Death is Dead”, it went on to say “Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” Alfred Nobel was nicknamed as the ‘Merchant of Death’ because he made his fortune through explosives, which were also used for warfare.

8. After reading his obituary, Nobel got concerned about how he would be remembered after his death. As a result, Nobel signed his last will on On 27 November 1895. The ‘will’ asked to establish the five Nobel Prizes for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine and literature, and for working toward peace. These prizes were to be distributed out of the 94% of the estate which he left with his will. His total assets were valued 31,225,000 Swedish kronor (equivalent to 250 million U.S. dollars in 2008).

9. It is the most astonishing piece of information that the person on whose name there are the greatest awards in our times had no formal secondary & tertiary education. Even though he was professed personally by one of the most renowned teachers of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and literature of those times.

10. Alfred Nobel indulged in love affairs, 3 times in his life. His first lady loves Alexandra, a Russian girl. However, she rejected Alfred’s proposal when he approached her. To the great surprise, his second love Bertha Kinsky (Austro-Bohemian Countess) became a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1905. She was also his secretary during 1870s and is believed to play a role in the inclusion of ‘Peace Award Category’ among the other awards of Alred’s will.