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Swedish Alfred Nobel

Nobel, a name familiar to most everyone and especially in Stockholm, Sweden each year on December 10 on the day that the Nobel Laureates receive their medals and Nobel Prize Diplomas confirming the amount of their prize from the King of Sweden. The banquet that follows the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony is held in the Blue Hall of Stockholm City Hall, here some 1,300 guests in their formal best dine in a splendid setting.

Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm into a family of engineers in 1833. At a young age his family moved to St. Petersburg where he received a quality education becoming fluent in 5 languages and developing a special interest in chemistry and engineering.

Because of his interest in poetry his father thought him to be too introverted and arranged for visits to Germany, France and the United States. In Paris, the city he came to like best, he worked in the private laboratory of Professor T. J. Pelouze, a famous chemist. There he met the young Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero who, three years earlier, had invented nitroglycerine, highly explosive and considered too dangerous to be of any practical use. Although its explosive power greatly exceeded that of gunpowder, the liquid would explode in a very unpredictable manner if subjected to heat and pressure.

Through experimentation and to make the handling of nitroglycerine safer Nobel experimented with different additives and found that by mixing nitroglycerine with a type of silica he was able to turn the liquid into a paste then shaped into rods of a size and form suitable for insertion into drilling holes. In 1867 he patented this material under the name of dynamite. To be able to detonate the dynamite rods he also invented a detonator (blasting cap) which could be ignited by lighting a fuse. These inventions were made at the same time as the diamond drilling crown and the pneumatic drill came into general use. Together these inventions drastically reduced the cost of blasting rock, drilling tunnels, building canals and many other forms of construction work.

Alfred Nobel had many different homes during the final decades of his life. In 1891, after controversies with the French authorities he left Paris to live in San Remo, Italy. Four years later, he purchased the Bofors ironworks and armaments factory in Karlskoga in the province of Värmland Sweden and established his Swedish home at nearby Björkborn Manor. He equipped all his residences with laboratories where he could continue his experiments. He was apparently homesick for Sweden but complained of the Swedish winter weather. When his health began to falter, he visited doctors and health resorts more frequently, but never had time to heed their most important advice - "to rest and nurse my health," as he put it himself. On December 10, 1896, Alfred Nobel passed away at his home in San Remo.

Björkborn Manor is now a museum where visitors can go back in time and imagine what it was like when Alfred Nobel spent his summers here. Apart from the manor another point of interest is the laboratory where Nobel continued with his experiments before his death in 1896. A visit here is easy to arrange during your visit to Sweden. it is just a little over 200 km. west of Stockholm. And while in Stockholm, experience the Nobel Dinner served in Stadshuskällaren, the restaurant in Stockholm City Hall, the dinner of the previous two years can be enjoyed for a party of two upon reservation.

Please feel free to learn more by visiting or stop by your local library.

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