Essay on Alfred Nobel

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Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm, Sweden on October 21, 1833.(Encarta) His father Immanuel Nobel was an engineer and inventor who built bridges and buildings in Stockholm. In connection with his construction work Immanuel Nobel also experimented with different techniques of blasting rock. Alfred's mother,
Andrietta Ahlsell came from a wealthy family. Due to misfortunes in the construction work caused by the loss of some barges of building material,
Immanuel Nobel was forced into bankruptcy the same year Alfred Nobel was born.
In 1837, Immanuel Nobel left Stockholm and his family to start a new career in
Finland and in Russia. To support the family, Andrietta Nobel started a grocery store which provided a modest income.
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Nitroglycerin was produced by mixing glycerin with sulfuric and nitric acid. It was considered too dangerous to be of any practical use.(Schuck p. 87) Although its explosive power greatly exceeded that of gun powder, the liquid would explode in a very unpredictable manner if subjected to heat and pressure.

Alfred Nobel became very interested in nitroglycerin and how it could be put to practical use in construction work. He also realized that the safety problems had to be solved and a method had to be developed for the controlled detonation of nitroglycerin. In the United States he visited John Ericsson, the Swedish-
American engineer who had developed the screw propeller for ships. In 1852,
Alfred Nobel was asked to come back and work in the family enterprise which was booming because of its deliveries to the Russian army. Together with his father he performed experiments to develop nitroglycerin as a commercially and technically useful explosive. As the war ended and conditions changed, Immanuel
Nobel was again forced into bankruptcy. Immanuel and two of his sons, Alfred and
Emil, left St. Petersburg together and returned to Stockholm. His other two sons,
Robert and Ludvig, remained in St. Petersburg. With some difficulties they managed to salvage the family enterprise and then went on to develop the oil industry in the southern part of the Russian empire. They were very successful and became some of the wealthiest persons of their time. (Compton's)

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