I think there were many big personalities in the history of humankind. We can speak about hundreds of people, because there are many famous inventors, scientists, political personalities or artists, which have made something important. But there are many persons, which have made nothing good and positive, but something bad and they are famous through it, because it has changed the history.
One of this bad people was Adolf Hitler. He was the man, who made the history in the first half of the 20th century and he changed and shooted lives of millions of people. But I don´t want to speak about him or about people like him. I want to speak about somebody, who wanted to make something positive for the humankind, but he made several things, that were dissaproved.
I am thinking of Alfred Bernhard Nobel – the famous inventor from Swedish origin. He was born on the 21st October 1833 in Stockholm in the family of an engineer and inventor Immanuel Nobel. He had his own structural firm, that went to broke. So that in the year 1837 the family Nobel moved to Finland and than to Russia.
Alfred was educated in St. Peterburg and in 17 years he can already speak fluently Swedish, French, Russian, English and German, he loved literature and poetry, but his biggest love was chemistry and physics. His father sent him to abroad to study the chemical engineering. Alfred visited Sweden, Germany, France and the USA in two years. During his stay in Paris he worked in the laboratory of the professor T.J.Pelouz, where he met the Italian chemist Ascanius Sobrero, the inventor of the nitroglycerin. Alfred wanted to use nitroglycerin in the building industry and he tried to regulate the explosibility of it.
In the year 1852 Alfred came back to Russia to help his father with his firm. But it didn´t help – the firm went to broke and the family Nobel moved back to Sweden and they founded the factory for nitroglycerin production. It was in the year 1863. One year later a big unhappiness happened. Alfred’s brother Emil died in an explosion and soon died his father too. It was a big tragedy for Alfred, but he loved chemistry so much, that he couldn’t stop with the experimentation. The Swedish government prohibited the production in the factory, so he transferred his work to an old ship in the middle of one lake.
Alfred tried to mix some admixtures to the nitroglycerin to reduce the danger of explosion and in the year 1867 his firm started to produce an explosive named “dynamite”. It came the time of the “dynamite fever”, because this material spared a lot of costs in the stone pits and in all branches of the building industry.
Dynamite wasn’t his only chemical invention. He thought up the man-made silk or leather and many other useful things. In the time of his death he owned about 355 patents. Alfred founded about 90 factories in cca 20 countries and he became one of the richest people in the world. He spent a lot of time with traveling, because he visited all his factories to control them and he self worked in many laboratories in the whole Europe. For example in Hamburg, Stockholm, Paris or in San Remo.
Alfred’s private life wasn’t very happy, because he spent the whole time with the test-glasses in laboratories. He wasn’t ever married, but he kept a firm friendship with one well-educated Austrian countess – Bertha von Suttner (born Kinsky). She worked as his assistant in the young age, but a bit later she became a big peace fighter. (Several years after his death she was awarded by the Nobel price for the peace.) She was the one, who influenced all Alfred’s life. On the downhill of his life he wrote a unusual testament, in that he entailed his estate to awarding people, who make something for example for chemistry, literature etc. The testament was negated by Alfred’s family and other people, but nothing changed.
After his death two men, which executed his testament, founded an organisation, that controls the awarding of famous people for their contribution for physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, literature and peace. This organisation still exists and I thing, this is the best, what could Alfred Nobel do for the humankind.
1. březen 2008