About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My name is Alfred Nobel

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was an inventor and known for inventing dynamite.

You did not know that did you?

You see, Alfred Nobel is now synonymous with the Nobel prizes that are awarded every year, the most popular being the Nobel Peace Prize.

He, in fact, during his life was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and as mentioned, the inventor of dynamite. Nobel held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous.

The synthetic element nobelium was named after him.

However, why did these inventor of many things that would kill and destruct, in his last will, use his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes?

You see, sometime in 1988, Alfred's brother Ludvig died while visiting France and a French newspaper erroneously published Alfred's obituary.

Firstly, for such a rich and famous person, the obituary was relatively small. And mainly condemned him for his invention of dynamite.

The obituary stated that the merchant of death is dead (Le marchand de la mort est mort) and went on to be critical about how he became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.

Alfred was disappointed what he read and very concerned with how he would be remembered after his real death and this is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death.

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. After taxes and bequests to individuals, Nobel's will gave 31,225,000 Swedish kronor (equivalent to about 1.8 billion kronor or 250 million US dollars in 2008) to fund the prizes.

The first three of these prizes are awarded for eminence in physical science, in chemistry and in medical science or physiology; the fourth is for literary work "in an ideal direction".

The fifth and obviously the most popular 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 - basically the Nobel Peace Prize.

Any idea how many Nobel Peace awards have gone to US Presidents? Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and ....... Barack Obama.

Most of us, including myself would not even be able to name last year's winner, what more, the last 5 winners. But that does not matter, while most of us do not remember the winner, we remember Nobel Prize and thus Alfred Nobel's name lives on for his prizes for peace and science rather than for him being a merchant of death.

But yet dynamite lives on, C4 plastic explosives have been invented to blow people up especially in Malaysia.

How very interesting. But I guess we do not blame Albert Einstein for his E=MC2 which was the basis for nuclear weapons and Alfred Nobel has paid his dues after his death.

It is not the inventor who kills others, it is wars, disagreements and baseless accusations amongst us that kill people.

Take care and be well.

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