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Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist who was also successful in business, engineering, inventions, and industrial technologies. He is famous for being the benefactor of the Nobel Prize as well as the inventor of dynamite. Born in 1833, he grew up with a father who was himself an inventor and engineer, and to whom Alfred’s interest in technology and inventing things can be attributed to. He died in Italy in 1896 aged 63.
See the fact file below for more information on the Alfred Nobel or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Alfred Nobel worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life of Alfred Nobel
- Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born on October 21, 1833.
- He was born in Stockholm, Sweden and was the fourth of eight children.
- When Alfred was four, his father moved to St. Petersburg in Russia with hopes to provide a stable income for his family after struggling to set up a business in Sweden.
- Alfred was prone to getting sick as a child, and this may be part of the reason for his close relationship with his mother.
- He was known as a curious and lively child who enjoyed asking questions about the world around him.
- By 1842 the rest of Alfred’s family joined his father in St. Petersburg, and Alfred’s interest in explosives, engineering, chemistry, and languages began to blossom.
- Now that their family had overcome poverty, they were able to send Alfred to a private tutor where he learned the basics of chemistry and engineering, and accelerated his learning.
- By the time Alfred was 16 he was fluent in Swedish, German, Russian, French, and English.
Early Career of Alfred Nobel
- In 1850, Alfred traveled to Paris to study chemistry with a chemist named Nikolai Zinin, then moved to the United States after a year in Paris.
- During his travels he met lots of highly-esteemed chemists.
- He spent four years in the United States under the direction of Swedish-American naval engineer John Ericsson, who had built the first armoured turret warship.
- When Alfred moved back to Russia he began working in his father’s factory where he made military equipment for the Crimean War.
- By the end of the war, the factory went bankrupt, so Nobel and his parents left and moved back to Sweden, leaving the company in the hands of Alfred’s brother, Ludvig.
- It was back in Sweden that Alfred began tinkering with explosives, particularly developing nitroglycerine as an explosive element.
The Big Explosion and Development of Dynamite
- On September 3, 1964, when Alfred was 29, there was a huge explosion in his family’s Swedish factory that killed five people, one of whom was his younger brother Emil.
- It was this explosion that prompted Alfred to explore the idea of developing a safer explosive; he was not derailed by the tragedy.
- Alfred realized that if nitroglycerine was mixed with diatomaceous earth (a compound composed of fossilized diatoms – a major group of algae found in oceans, waterways, and soils – which are used as mild abrasives) it could create a safer and easier to handle mixture.
- He patented this mixture in 1867 as “dynamite”, from the Greek word for “power”.
The Nobel Prize and Later Life
- Prompted by an erroneously published obituary of himself instead of his brother Ludvig in 1888, Alfred began to feel disappointed about how he might be remembered when he actually died; he decided he wanted to leave a better legacy for himself when he did die.
- He decided to set aside a chunk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes; these prizes would honor men and women for their contributions and achievements in physics, medicine, chemistry, literature, and efforts towards peace.
- Towards the end of his career, Alfred had 350 patents in a wide range of countries, as well many inventions including dynamite, artificial silk, gelignite, and ballisite.
- His move to Italy in 1891 was prompted by accusations of “high treason against France” for selling ballisite to Italy; a few years later, he developed angina pectoris.
- On December 10, 1896 Alfred Nobel died of a cerebral hemorrhage; when his will was opened a short time later, his friends and family were surprised to see that he left the bulk of his fortune in trust to fund the Nobel Prizes.
Alfred Nobel Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Alfred Nobel across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Alfred Nobel worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Alfred Nobel who was a Swedish chemist who was also successful in business, engineering, inventions, and industrial technologies. He is famous for being the benefactor of the Nobel Prize as well as the inventor of dynamite. Born in 1833, he grew up with a father who was himself an inventor and engineer, and to whom Alfred’s interest in technology and inventing things can be attributed to. He died in Italy in 1896 aged 63.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Alfred Nobel Facts
- Quote Analysis
- Alfred Nobel Crossword
- Nobel Acrostic
- Opinion Piece
- Nobel Prize Recipient Biography
- Design a Medallion
- Alfred Nobel Wordsearch
- Unscrambling Activity
- Reading Comprehension
- Recipients by Country
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Use With Any Curriculum
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