Trivia

Hard

Alfred Nobel Established the Nobel Prize After What?

He read his obituary
His wife died
He lost a bet
Doctors saved his son
A photo of Alfred Nobel.
Public Domain/Wikimedia

Answer: He read his obituary

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish inventor, chemist, engineer, and arms manufacturer—most notable in those roles as the inventor of dynamite. He was both a successful inventor and businessman, and maintained companies in multiple countries around the world, including those that manufactured the dynamite he invented, cannon balls, and other munitions.

In 1888, his brother Ludvig died while visiting Cannes, France. A local paper accidentally printed an obituary for Alfred, not his brother Ludvig. The obituary was less than flattering, opening with “The merchant of death is dead” and condemning him for both inventing dynamite and profiting from its military use around the world.

Alfred was deeply troubled by the obituary and saddened that the world would remember him in such a fashion. In reaction to the obituary and out of a desire to associate his name with something positive, Alfred set aside almost his entire estate to be used upon his death to establish the Nobel Prizes in Physical Science, Chemistry, Physiology or Medical Science, Literature, and for the individuals who furthered a common good for humanity—most frequently referred to as the Nobel Peace Prize. His bid to improve the standing of his name was a success, and over a century later, the name Nobel is associated with the prizes he created.

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