Alfred Nobel: Inventory of Dynamite

By Phin Upham

Alfred Nobel learned early on about the effects that arms and chemicals could have on people. His father owned an arms factory, which became young Alfred’s first job. He was a curious lad with a penchant for experimentation. He began experimenting with chemistry and explosives right around the time his younger brother was killed in a deadly accident.

Nobel became greatly bothered by what had happened and set to work trying to develop a safer explosive. His creation became known as dynamite, and it was used around the world to help build villages, mine, construct roads, make new passages and much more. Through the sale of dynamite, Nobel amassed a large fortune he would use to fund the Nobel Peace Prize most of us know and recognize.

The key to Nobel’s dynamite was in the way nitroglycerin reacted with inert substances. He found that the normally volatile substance would become safer to handle when mixed with diatomaceous earth. It was first suggested that he call his invention “Nobel’s Safety Powder,” but he opted to draw influence from the Greek Gods instead.

Nobel was inspired to fund and distribute his Peace Prize after a French newspaper falsely published an obituary for Alfred instead of his brother Ludvig. The obituary also condemned Alfred for his invention of dynamite, which went contrary to everything he had tried to accomplish. So he set out to honor men and women who made outstanding achievement in the sciences, eventually adding an economics honor as well.

About the Author: Phin Uphamis an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.