Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1933. From the age of nine to 29, he lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 1842 to 1862, where his father set up a number of businesses, before entering the petroleum exploration activity. He and Alfred’s two elder brothers were known as the “Russian Rockefellers”.
Back in Stockholm, in 1863, Alfred Nobel provoked a tragedy which would mark him for life: an experiment with nitro-glycerine destroyed two wings of the family’s mansion, and claimed the lives of his younger brother, Emil, who Alfred adored, and four other people.
Thus dynamite was discovered and having recognised the awesome power that he had unleashed, having created the most potent weapon yet known to mankind, Alfred Nobel, who during his lifetime collected 355 patents for various inventions, began to think about how his inventions could contribute towards lasting improvements for mankind.
After his death on 10th December, 1896, in San Remo, Italy, Alfred Nobel’s will was revealed. This will set up a foundation to create five prizes of equal value “for those who, in the previous year, have contributed best towards benefits for humankind”, in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology (Medicine), Literature and Peace. The first four prizes were to be presented in Stockholm, the last one (Peace) in Oslo, in respect of the fact that at the time the crowns of Sweden and Norway were united.
A sixth prize was added in 1968, that of Economic Sciences. One hundred years on, there are 39 living prize-winners, among them Mikhail Gorbachev, unable to attend this year due to ill health.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru