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About Alfred Bernhard Nobel
Alfred Nobel var en av fyra söner till Immanuel Nobel (1801-1872) och Andriette Nobel (flicknamn Ahlsell). Han och hans bröder levde i svåra förhållanden med en mycket sjuk fader. Hans bröder hette Robert Nobel, Ludvig Nobel och Emil Nobel. Emil Nobel dog dock i en explosion i familjens sprängmedelsfabrik i Stockholm, 21 år gammal. Alfred flyttade år 1842 med sin familj till Sankt Petersburg sedan faderns mekanikverkstad gått i konkurs i Sverige. Vid den tidpunkten var familjen mycket fattig och hustrun fick arbeta som butiksbiträde i en mjölk- och grönsaksbutik, medan Nobel själv hjälpte till att sälja tändstickor på gatan. Men familjens företag lyckades och byggdes upp till en industriell jätte, som blomstrade och bestod ända till dess att den ryska revolutionen gjorde sitt intåg.
År 1863 återvände fadern och Nobel till Sverige, där han började studera sprängämnen, i synnerhet nitroglycerin. Nobel hade mött upptäckaren av nitroglycerin, Ascanio Sobrero, under sin tid i Paris och insåg att dess kraft måste tämjas för att kunna vara användbar. Han uppfann bland annat:
- Dynamit 1866, som han fick patent på 1867
- Spränggummi (bomullskrut upplöst i svartkrut), nästan riskfritt vid transport och hantering
- Spränggelatin 1875
- Ballistit, nobelkrut 1887 (ett röksvagt krut bestående av nitrocellulosa och nitroglycerin i lika delar)
Alfred gifte sig aldrig. I fyrtioårsåldern annonserade han efter en sekreterare och hushållerska, och grevinnan Bertha Kinsky anställdes. Alfred och Kinsky utvecklade en djup vänskap, och den bestod långt efter att hon lämnat sitt arbete hos Alfred och gift sig med en annan man. Bertha Kinsky var mycket engagerad i fredsfrågor och var en av dåtidens största namn inom fredsrörelsen. Alfred Nobel påverkades starkt av hennes åsikter, och de ligger till grund för instiftandet av fredspriset. Bertha von Suttner, som hon kom att heta efter giftermålet, tilldelades Nobels fredspris år 1905.
Vid årsskiftet till 1894 tog Alfred över en stor aktiepost i Bofors, Karlskoga för en miljon kronor. Kort därefter stod han som ensam ägare till fabriken samt kringliggande industrier. 1894 till 1896 bodde Nobel i Björkborns herrgård i Karlskoga där han arbetade med sin nyförvärvade vapenfabrik. 1896 flyttade han sitt stora tekniskt-vetenskapliga laboratorium från Paris till sin villa i San Remo vid Genua och bodde han där till sin död.
(text hämtad från Wikipedia)
Nobel was the third son of Immanuel Nobel (1801-1872) and Andriette Ahlsell Nobel (1805-1889). Born in Stockholm on 21 October 1833, he went with his family in 1842 to Saint Petersburg, where his father (who had invented modern plywood) started a "torpedo" works. Alfred studied chemistry with Professor Nikolay Nikolaevich Zinin. In 1859, the factory was left to the care of the second son, Ludvig Nobel (1831-1888), who greatly enlarged it. Alfred, returning to Sweden with his father after the bankruptcy of their family business, devoted himself to the study of explosives, and especially to the safe manufacture and use of nitroglycerine (discovered in 1847 by Ascanio Sobrero, one of his fellow students under Théophile-Jules Pelouze at the University of Torino). Several explosions occurred at their family-owned factory in Heleneborg; one disastrous one killed Alfred's younger brother Emil and several other workers in 1864.
The foundations of the Nobel Prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth for its establishment. Since 1901, the prize has honored men and women for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace.
Though Nobel remained unmarried, his biographers note that he had at least three loves. Nobel's first love was in Russia with a girl named Alexandra, who rejected his proposal. In 1876 Bertha Kinsky became Alfred Nobel's secretary but after only a brief stay left him to marry her old flame, Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner. Though her personal contact with Alfred Nobel had been brief, she corresponded with him until his death in 1896, and it is believed that she was a major influence in his decision to include a peace prize among those prizes provided in his will. Bertha von Suttner was awarded the 1905 Nobel Peace prize, 'for her sincere peace activities'.
Nobel's third and long-lasting love was with a flower girl named Sofie Hess, also from Vienna. This liaison lasted for 18 years and in many of the exchanged letters, Nobel addressed his love as 'Madame Sofie Nobel'. After his death, according to his biographers - Evlanoff and Flour, and Fant - Nobel's letters were locked within the Nobel Institute in Stockholm and became the best kept secret of the time.They were only released in 1955, to be included with the biographical data of Nobel.
Sri Kantha has suggested that ' the one personal trait of Nobel that helped him to sharpen his creativity include his talent for information access, via his multi-lingual skills. Despite the lack of formal secondary and tertiary level education, Nobel gained proficiency in six languages, Swedish, French, Russian, English, German and Italian. He also developed literary skills to write poetry in English.' His Nemesis, a prose tragedy in four acts about Beatrice Cenci, partly inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Cenci, was printed while he was dying. The entire stock except for three copies was destroyed immediately after his death, being regarded as scandalous and blasphemous. The first surviving edition (bilingual Swedish-Esperanto) was published in Sweden in 2003. The play has been translated to Slovenian via the Esperanto version.
Alfred Nobel is buried in Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm.
Nobel found that when nitroglycerin was incorporated in an absorbent inert substance like kieselguhr (diatomaceous earth) it became safer and more convenient to handle, and this mixture he patented in 1867 as dynamite. Nobel demonstrated his explosive for the first time that year, at a quarry in Redhill, Surrey, England.
Nobel later on combined nitroglycerin with another explosive, gun-cotton, and obtained a transparent, jelly-like substance, which was a more powerful explosive than dynamite. Gelignite, or blasting gelatin as it was branded, was patented in 1876, and was followed by a host of similar combinations, modified by the addition of potassium nitrate and various other substances
The erroneous publication in 1888 of a premature obituary of Nobel by a French newspaper, condemning him for his invention of dynamite, is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated Le marchand de la mort est mort ("The merchant of death is dead") and went on to say, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday." On 27 November 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. He died of a stroke on 10 December 1896 at Sanremo, Italy. He left 31 million kronor to fund the prizes (what would be hundreds of millions of today's US dollars).
The first three of these prizes are awarded for eminence in physical science, chemistry and medical science or physiology; the fourth is for literary work "in an ideal direction" and the fifth is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses.
The formulation about the literary prize, "in an ideal direction" (i idealisk riktning in Swedish), is cryptic and has caused much confusion. For many years, the Swedish Academy interpreted "ideal" as "idealistic" (idealistisk) and used it as a pretext to not give the prize to important but less romantic authors, such as Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg and Leo Tolstoy. This interpretation has since been revised, and the prize has been awarded to, for example, Dario Fo and José Saramago, who definitely do not belong to the camp of literary idealism.
There was also quite a lot of room for interpretation by the bodies he had named for deciding on the physical sciences and chemistry prizes, given that he had not consulted them before making the will. In his one-page testament, he stipulated that the money go to discoveries or inventions in the physical sciences and to discoveries or improvements in chemistry. He had opened the door to technological awards, but had not left instructions on how to deal with the distinction between science and technology. Since the deciding bodies he had chosen were more concerned with the former, it is not surprising that the prizes went to scientists and not to engineers, technicians or other inventors. In a sense, the technological prizes announced recently by the World Technology Network (not funded by the Nobel foundation) indirectly fill this gap.
In 2001, his great-grandnephew, Peter, asked the Bank of Sweden to differentiate its award to economists given "in Alfred Nobel's memory" from the five other awards. This has caused much controversy whether the prize for Economics is actually a "Nobel Prize" (see Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel).