February 7, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

We all know of the Nobel prizes, and also know that Alfred Nobel was the person who had invented dynamite and other explosives, and also he had introduced world’s most prestigious annual prizes in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature , medicine and peace. But have we ever thought why the same person who had invented the most destructive means of killing human beings, encouraged people to work for peace.

This is the sad story of a scientist who on one side was honest to his knowledge and findings but was a humanist on the other hand. But Alfred Nobel was not just one on his own/. History is filled with people who invented things or worked out theories , which they had thought would be useful for the mankind but found out that all their hard and honest endeavours had fallen into the wrong hands.

Way back in 1833, Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm. His father was running a factory, building explosives for military use. With this background, Nobel got his education in Paris, Russia, and United States. He started his professional life as a successful chemist. He had set up a laboratory in Sweden and started carrying out research and experiments in the fields of explosives.

At the age of 30, Alfred Nobel found out a method of controlling the detonation of nitro-glycerine, which was previously considered as too dangerous. Untill then the black gunpowder had been considered as the most dependable explosive, but the invention of a refined blasting cap by Nobel, opened a totally new world of more powerful and destructive explosives.

But doing all this and experimenting with explosives was not that too easy. Nobel had had to pay its price too. In 1864, his Nitro-glycerine factory blew up. His younger brother and several other people died. It must have been a tough time for him. He might have stopped continuing experimenting after such a grave personal loss, but he continued his experiments. Some people argue that he wanted to continue his research for the sake of scientific development and invention, whereas some argue that all his new inventions were bringing in very good money, so he continued.

His continuous experimentation led him to an another breakthrough, the deadliest invention indeed. It was Dynamite, that he invented in 1867. Dynamite was the deadliest killer but much safer to handle. Having secured patents for dynamite, he earned a big fortune.

Dynamite was basically meant to be used in construction work, but it became more popular in warfare. The addition of dynamite in the war mechanism, added decisive strength to military powers of various countries. In a short period of time, Dynamite became a necessity for every army, leading to enormous earnings of Alfred Nobel.

But Nobel knew that his invention of dynamite was going to kill hundred and thousands of people the world over. However, he was a scientist and a businessman. As a scientist he was bound to share his knowledge with others, but as a businessman he was supposed to earn by selling his knowledge and expertise.

This is where we start questioning the introduction of “Nobel Prizes”, particularly that of “Peace”. Some argue that Nobel had created fund for prizes, out of his fortune, out of moral regret, that he felt after seeing that his invention was being used for killing human beings.

In his will, Alfred Nobel had mentioned that a fund should be created out of his fortune, to be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”.

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