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Pioneers in Science And Engineering

Alfred Nobel

By Tomas Lin

What comes to your mind when you think about the Nobel Prize? You might think of the MIT faculty or other brilliant people who have won one. But would you think of Alfred Nobel, the man for which the prize was named? Not only was Nobel a great engineer, but his life’s work was a great benefit to society.

Nobel was born in Sweden in 1833. From a young age, he started showing interest in science, particularly Chemistry. Nobel was self-taught and did not attend college.

Being extremely devoted toward the advancement of science, Nobel spent his days and nights studying and working. He pursued inventions in many fields, particularly synthetic materials. His work led to 355 patents over the course of his lifetime. However, despite his successes, Nobel remained a modest man.

Nobel’s best known invention is dynamite, which is especially useful in building and construction.

Above all, Nobel wanted to be of service to mankind. He accomplished this not only through his inventions, but also through the wealth he amassed from his worldwide business enterprises. After he died in 1896, it was discovered that he had left the majority of his estate to a fund known today as The Nobel Foundation. Since 1900, the fund has awarded monetary prizes and medals each year to individuals whose works have benefited mankind. The Nobel Prize, as it came to be called, has become a prestigious award that recognizes notable individuals for their contributions to society.

Nobel Prizes are awarded in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace.

Nobel’s dreams were to advance science and to be a service to mankind. A hundred years after his death, he continues to help society through his fund, which recognizes other people who have contributed to society.

Pioneers in Science and Engineering will spotlight the work of a notable scientist or engineer every week. Contributors are members of MIT’s chapter of the National Engineering Fraternity Tau Beta Pi.