Nobel: his life and mission | Daily News


Nobel: his life and mission

Almost all universally acclaimed personages of great achievements had to undergo a series of vicissitudes in their lives and the life of Alfred Nobel renown as an Inventor, Entrepreneur and Industrialist better known as the founder of Nobel Prize was not an exception.

Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in a simple home in the courtyard building at Norrlandsgatan, 9, in Stockholm, Sweden.

His childhood was spent in insecurity and poverty. In 1837, when Alfred was only 4 years old, his father Immanuel Alfred went bankrupt and had to flee abroad to escape his creditors.

Immanuel Nobel left his family in Stockholm and spent five years alone trying to build up his economy.z_p32-Nobel-02_0.jpg

During his absence, his wife Andretta Ahlsell had to feed the family in Stockholm by running a little dairy and a green grocery . At times Andretta and her children were on the verge of penury which Alfred Nobel and his brothers could never forgot.

At the age of seven, Alfred Nobel was sent to the School of St. Jacob which was considered as a school for the poor children. St. Petersburg in Russia was a rapidly developing city in the mid-nineteenth century which offered great opportunities to people with initiative and enterprising people from all over world came to the Russian empire.

Immanuel Nobel came to St. Petersburg and started a foundry and an engineering workshop with great success and after a few years he was able to support his family in Stockholm. As the family became financially well off in 1840 Alfred Nobel and his brothers were taught at home which was the trend among the children of the upper class in the era.

Alfred Nobel was sent on a study tour from 1850 – 1852 and during his visit to New York Alfred had the opportunity to meet the Swedish inventor John Ericsson. After the completion of his study tour, Alfred joined his father’s company known as “ Founderies & Ateliers Mecaniques Nobel & Fils ”.

This engineering company gradually expanded and produced wide range of civil and military products which were in high demand during the period. Alfred Nobel’s father Immanuel Nobel became an expert on underwater mines and he obtained large orders during the Crimean War which lasted for three years.

In the year 1850 Immanuel Nobel could employ more than thousand workers in his factory in St.Petersburg . After nearly twenty years, in 1856 Immanuel Nobel could visit Sweden again. But the prosperity did not last long and in 1859, due to economic problems in Russia, Immanuel Nobel had to face bankruptcy and he returned to Sweden with his wife. Alfred Nobel when he was thirty years old , returned to Sweden in 1863 and started his career as an inventor.

Soon he went to Hamburg where he stayed for ten years and left for Paris in 1873. Alfred Nobel lived in Paris longer than anywhere else and it was in Paris he signed his famous will in 1895. He built up an industrial empire and three years before his death he bought Bofors estate in Varmland.

Alfred Nobel had a great interest in the development of weaponry. He was not only a brilliant inventor but also a daring entrepreneur and a shrewd industrialist. Alfred Nobel’s most important inventions were based on Nitroglycerine. Nobel discovered how to handle Nitroglycerine which is a highly viscous and highly explosive liquid safely.

Nobel invented Detonator in 1864, Dynamite in 1867, Blastine Gelatine in 1875, and Smokeless Gunpowder, Balilistic in 1887. Alfred Nobel was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1884 and he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Uppsala in 1893.

Even though Nobel’s workshop blew up killing his youngest brother Emil and four other workers he did not give up his research on explosives. The Swedish State Railways Board decided to use Nobel’s Blasting Oil in the excavation of new railway tunnel under Sodermalam .

He left Sweden to establish himself as an entrepreneur on the Continent. The large scale buyers of explosives were on the Continent and in the USA. Explosives were on great demand for Mining, Railway Construction, Road Building, Tunnelling Docks and Canals. In Hamburg, Germany he found “ Alfred Nobel & Company ”, and in 1866 in USA he found “ US Blasting Oil ” , “ The British Dynamite Company ” was found in the United Kingdom in 1868.

Nobel started factories for the production of explosives in Spain ( 1871), Italy ( 1873) , and in Switzerland (1873). During 1865- 1873 Alfred Nobel founded his Industrial Empire and became partner in 16 dynamite factories in fourteen countries.

He was fluent in five different languages of Swedish Russian, German, French and English. In response to an advertisement carried by Alfred Nobel for an efficient Secretary, Bertha Sophie Felicita ( Bertha von Suttner) a lady born in Prague, Bohemia, Austria left for Paris in 1876 to become the Secretary and the Housekeeper of Alfred Nobel. Alfred Nobel , the dynamite millionaire and Bertha who became his Secretary happened to be the most renowned female peace activist of the day.

Even though she left Alfred Nobel to get marry to Baron Arthur von Suttner , Bertha continued to correspond with Nobel till his death. In 1892, she promised Alfred Nobel to keep him informed on the progress of the Peace Movement launched by her. Bertha realised that she was beginning to succeed when she received a letter from Alfred Nobel in January, 1893 telling her about a Peace Prize Alfred hoped to found and his will proved he had already established the Prize for Peace.

In 1889 she published her major novel “ Lay Down Your Arms ” It was a novel of pacifism an opposition to all war and hostility and a belief that all disputes should be handled peacefully. In the final will of Alfred Nobel, he wrote a Prize for Persons or Organizations who promote peace . Several years after the death of Alfred Nobel, the Norwegian Storting (Parliamnet ) decided to award 1905 Peace Prize to Bertha von Suttner. Alfred Nobel died in 1896 and he did not give an explanation for choosing Peace as a Prize category.

Nobel was a trained Chemical Engineer , the categories for Chemistry and Physics were obvious choices. The reasoning behind the Peace Prize is less clear. According to the Norwegian Peace Committee , his friendship with Bertha von Suttan who was a Peace Activist and later a winner of the prize, profoundly influenced his decision to include Peace as a category.

Some scholars suggest it was Alfred Nobel’s way to compensate for developing destructive forces. His inventions included dynamite and ballistite both of which were used violently during his lifetime. First Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901 for Physics to Konrad Wilhelm Rontgen for discovering X Ray. This first Nobel Prize was awarded at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm,Sweden , on 10th December. 1901. Being a cosmopolitan , Alfred Nobel directed that in the awarding the Prize, no consideration whatever be given to the nationality of the candidate but that the most worthy shall receive the Prize.

The process of selecting the Nobel Laureates is exclusively handled by the Nobel Prize Awarding Institutions. The Royal Swedish Academy awards Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry and Prize in Economic Sciences. The Nobel Assembly in Karolinska Institute awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. The Norwegian Nobel Committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament awards Nobel Peace Prize.

On the fifth anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, on 10th December, 1901 the first set of Nobel Prizes were awarded. Jacobus C. Rontgen won the Prize for Chemistry, Wilhelm C. Rontgen won Prize for Physics, Emil A. von Behring won Prize for Physiology and Medicine , Rene F.A. Sully Prudhomme won the Prize for Literature while Jean H. Dunant and Frederic Passy won the Prizes for Peace. A total number of 43 women were awarded Nobel Prize between 1901 to 2011.

Marie Curie was awarded Nobel Prize twice. The famous personages such as Nelson Mandella, Martin Luther King Jr, Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Fridjot Nansen, Albert Schweitzer and Alva Myrdal and Organizations such as The International Red cross (ICRC), won Nobel Prizes. Nobel Peace Centre was opened on 11th June, 2005 and a best known architect in UK, David Adjaye had designed and modified the former Vestbanen Railway Station in Oslo, Norway to the Nobel Peace Centre.

Nobel Peace Centre consists of an exciting combination of changing and permanent exhibitions. The Peace Centre seeks to promote popular interest in issues relevant to War, Peace and Conflict Resolution in Norway as well as abroad.

The Peace Prize Laureates all presented on digital screens in the Nobel Field a garden of 1000 fibre-optic lights. In addition there are exciting items such as the Magical Book about Alfred Nobel , his life and work. The Electronic Wall Papers and the Film Room -the Eye.

Some of the scheduled events of Nobel Peace Centre comprised of Lectures, and Open Meetings, Seminars and Discussions and a wide range of Cultural and Artistic Activities. Nobel Peace Prize of 2011 was won by three female laureates Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their Non-Violent Struggle for the Safety of the Women’s Rights to full participation in Peace-Building Work. 

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