Alfred Nobel: The Merchant of Death | Summary and Q&A

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September 24, 2018
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Alfred Nobel: The Merchant of Death

TL;DR

Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and gelignite, left behind a legacy of explosives, but also a guilt-ridden conscience that led him to establish the Nobel Prizes.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did Alfred Nobel turn nitroglycerin into a safer and commercially viable explosive?

Alfred Nobel discovered how to safely transport nitroglycerin by soaking it in coal dust, which led to the creation of dynamite. He also invented the blasting cap to safely detonate the nitroglycerin.

Q: What motivated Alfred Nobel to establish the Nobel Prizes?

After reading his own obituary, which condemned him for his inventions' destructive potential, Alfred Nobel was devastated and wanted to change his legacy. He established the Nobel Prizes to honor individuals who had made significant contributions to humanity.

Q: What was Alfred Nobel's relationship with the women in his life?

Alfred Nobel had three great loves in his life. He fell in love with a Russian girl, Alexandria, in his early twenties, but was rejected. He had a toxic and secretive relationship with Sofie Hess for 18 years. He later employed Bertha Kinsky as his secretary, but she rejected his affections.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Alfred Nobel was a sickly child who grew up in financial struggle and had a passion for chemistry and literature.

  • He invented dynamite and gelignite, which made him incredibly wealthy.

  • After reading his own obituary, which condemned him as the "merchant of death," Nobel established the Nobel Prizes in an attempt to improve his reputation and legacy.

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