Not Dead Yet

by MSO
Alfred Nobel left enough money in his will to fund the Nobel Peace Prize

A year before he died, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. Nobel’s will gave 31,225,000 Swedish kronor (equivalent to about 250 million US dollars today) to fund the prizes.

On the morning of April 13, 1888, Swedish inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel discovered an unpleasant article on the front page of his morning paper. The news headline read, “The Merchant of Death is Dead.”

While not officially dead, the error turned out to be a case of mistaken identity as the Nobel in question was in fact his brother, Ludwig.

Nonetheless, Nobel was given a glimpse of the persona that had been attached to his name as inventor of high-powered explosives. While originally invented as an easier method of constructing dams, tunnels, canals and roadways, the obituary painted him as a “bellicose monster” whose inventions had served to “boost the bloody art of war from bullets and bayonets to long range explosives.”

Horrified by the depiction of his life’s work, Nobel devoted the rest of his life to changing his image and redeeming his family name by using his wealth to award cash prizes in several areas meant to improve the way of life, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

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