How a very rich man spent his fortune4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Welcome to the 19th century (1800s). Those people that don’t die before or during their birth live to an average age of 35. Since there isn’t much else that can be done, almost 90% of the world farms. But the world is about to change forever. The industrial revolution is afoot! In the middle of it all stands this man: Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor.
Alfred Nobel is a young, plucky man with ambition in his eyes. He wants to be an inventor, just like his father. Together, they work on making an explosive material, nitroglycerin less unstable, so that humans can use it without being endangered. Unfortunately, something goes horribly wrong, and their laboratory blows up! Alfred’s brother dies in the explosion.
Devastated, Alfred works with a newfound passion. He uses powder from fossil remains to stabilize the explosive and creates one of the most important inventions in the world—Dynamite.
This invention makes the world look a lot like it does today. Construction, mining, and unfortunately, warfare have never been as efficient. People can blow through huge chunks of rock and extract minerals from deep in the earth. They can destroy buildings and build new ones, build roads to places that had never been reached before and finally kill more than 12 of their enemies with a single attack. Alfred has patented his invention and is now one of the richest men in the world. He never marries or has children and dies in 1896.
His Greatest Invention Yet
But what happened to his fortune? Well, a year before Alfred Nobel died, he wrote what some call his greatest invention: his will. Alfred Nobel decided to dedicate all of his money and assets to yearly prizes given out to those men and women that work for the “Greatest benefit to Humankind.” Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament in 1895 donated the equivalent of 173 million dollars or 127 crore rupees in today’s money! This came to be known as the Nobel Prize. The first prizes were given in October 1901. The winners of this prize are called Nobel laureates.
Owliver’s Obscure Observation: The word “Laureate” refers to a ring like leafy crown known as the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, the god of the Sun, Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head! Laurel wreaths have historically been a sign of honour and victory.
The Nobel Prize is so prestigious that it has been won by the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Earnest Hemingway, Marie Curie, and even Einstein. These are only a few names among a list of 962 exceptional winners. To know more about the Nobel Prize and this year’s Nobel Laureates, click here.
Owliver’s Obscure Observation: Malala Yousafzai was the youngest Nobel laureate at the age of 17. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
Questions to think about:
Images: Nobelprize.org, Wikipedia, The Guardian.