Dynamite - History of Dynamite
Dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel, a chemist from Sweden, in 1867. Alfred's father ran a company that made explosives. One of these explosives was "nitroglycerin". Nitroglycerin was used to blast rock in mines, to make tunnels, or to flatten ground for construction. It was very unstable, though. Simply shaking a bottle of nitroglycerin was enough to make it explode. Alfred Nobel discovered that he could make it more stable if he mixed it with an absorbing material. This made it in to a paste that could be shaped.
Alfred formed the dynamite paste into cylinder-shaped sticks. This made it possible for it to be placed in holes drilled in rock. Nobel also designed a blasting cap for dynamite that could be ignited by lighting a fuse. Dynamite was much safer to transport than nitroglycerin, and it became widely used as a safer mining explosive.
- The material that Alfred Nobel mixed with nitroglycerin to form dynamite was "diatomaceous earth", which is a soft rock mostly made of fossilized algae. It is still used in many products, for example, kitty litter.
- Dynamite is often confused with another explosive known as "TNT". They are actually very different. Dynamite is stabilized nitroglycerin, while TNT is short for its chemical name, trinitrotoluene. TNT was first used as an explosive in 1891.
- Alfred Nobel's final will included instructions to create "The Nobel Prize". After his death in 1896, his fortune was used to fund the yearly prizes that bear his name.
- There were originally five categories of Nobel Prizes: Peace, Medicine, Literature, Physics, and Chemistry. These Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901. The Nobel Prize in Economics was introduced in 1968.
- Some companies started by Alfred Nobel are still in operation. One example is Dyno-Nobel, which sells mining explosives in the United States, Canada, and several other countries.