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Alfred Nobel. Portrait of Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896), Swedish chemist and inventor. The son of an explosives manufacturer, Nobel & his father began studying nitroglycerin (glyceryl trinitrate) from 1863. Nobel soon invented an explosive cap which could be used to set off a larger charge, transforming blasting techniques. In 1865 he opened the first-ever nitroglycerine factory but it soon blew up. Seeking safer alternatives, he invented dynamite in 1867 by mixing nitroglycerin with a type of clay (kieselguhr). He invented gelignite in 1875 by mixing nitroglycerin with gun cotton (nitrocellulose). A wealthy industrialist, Nobel left his fortune to endow the Nobel Prizes.
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