Alfred Nobel

1833 (Stockholm) – 1896 (San Remo, Italy)

It is an over-simplification to think of Nobel only in terms of explosives, much as they overshadow his patents for such things as artificial silk and leather. Zinin was engaged by Nobel’s father Immanuel as a private tutor when the family lived in Russia. Nobel later worked in Pelouze’s laboratory for a year. Zinin reminded him of the disconcerting discovery of another of Pelouze’s students, Ascanio Sobrero: nitroglycerine. Nobel managed to stabilise it, and commercially exploited it as well as other discoveries of his own, e.g. gelignite. Hugo, perhaps an unlikely friend, called Nobel the richest vagabond in the world.

Alfred Nobel knew…