The Nobels were manufacturers of liquid nitroglycerine, a powerful explosive used in mining and construction work.
Liquid nitroglycerine had one major drawback. It exploded easily and was dangerous to handle.
One of the sons, Alfred Nobel, was determined to make nitroglycerine safer.
One day as he was lifting a bottle of nitroglycerine he spilled some of it on the packing material, which was made of fine powder, called kieselguhr. Instead of exploding, it formed a paste with the powder. Nobel discovered that the mixture was still explosive but very much safer to handle.
He called the mixture 'dynamite' and it made a fortune for him. Dynamite became a powerful tool in the hands of miners and road engineers. Alfred Nobel
did not confine his work to the field of explosives.
He also worked in various branches of science like optics,
biology and physiology. By the time of his death in 1896
he had taken out more than 355 patents.
Sadly, when dynamites began to be used in war as explosives, people began to look at Nobel in horror. They called him a 'pedlar of death'.
Sad and embittered, Nobel became a loner. He never married and did not have any close friends.
On his death it was found that he had left the bulk of his enormous fortune for annual prizes in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and peace.
These are the famous Nobel prizes - the legacy of a great but tortured soul.