Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anniversary: Dynamite

On this day in 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel patented dynamite. With dynamite, Nobel finally harnessed nitroglycerin for controlled use. He had experimented with the explosive chemical for years, with sometimes disastrous effects - an explosion in 1864 killed his brother and several others. Dynamite became hugely important in construction and mining and, of course, in war. Seeking a legacy apart from dynamite (a premature obituary had labeled him "The merchant of death"), in his will Nobel established five prizes to celebrate the best of science and humanity. Here's a recap of this year's Nobel winners.

(image credit: Alfred Nobel; Nobel's 1864 patent application for nitroglycerin, wikipedia.org)