Alfred Nobel's life-changing moment
1888 Alfred Nobel woke in his Paris home and opened the morning newspaper. There, to his surprise, he read his own obituary.
The inventor of dynamite, blasting caps, smokeless gunpowder and hundreds of other mean and nasty things, was very much alive, but his brother Ludwig was not. The newspaper had made a mistake, but it was a mistake that helped Alfred Nobel turn to a new career.
So appalled and ashamed was he with the obituary that described him as a "bellicose monster" and which reported that his discoveries "had boosted the bloody art of war from bullets and bayonets to long-range explosives" – all of which was true, of course – that his conscience pricked him and he decided to make amends somehow.
It was due to the shame of knowing what he had made, and what he had become, that he used some of his great wealth (derived in part from war) to create the Nobel Peace prizes.
Or, so it is said.
Categories: biography, history, peace, war