Wednesday, December 10, 2008


December 10, 1896:
Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and founder of the Nobel Prize, died. (b. 1833)

Swedish chemist Alfred Bernhard Nobel invented dynamite in 1866 and it made him rich. Nobel was as interested in drama and poetry as he was in chemistry and physics, but it was in the sciences that he made his fame, and by the time of his death he held more than 350 patents and controlled factories and labs in 20 countries. The story goes that when Nobel's brother died, a newspaper mistakenly published an obituary of Nobel that emphasized the fact that he had invented things that blew up and killed people. Nobel, not wanting to be remembered in that way, pledged his wealth toward the betterment of humanity. In his will he directed the establishment of a foundation to award annual prizes for achievement in chemistry, physics, literature and efforts toward international peace. The Nobel Prize is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world and includes a cash prize of nearly one million dollars. In 1968 the prize field was broadened to include an award in economic science.

If I'm not mistaken, former President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet was a recipient of the Nobel Prize for economics....

Alfred Nobel was portrayed in documentaries and in theatrical films. But Toobworld's choice for his best representation in Toobworld comes from the "Hobson's Choice" episode of 'Have Gun, Will Travel'. That's because we're always partial to historical figures who interact with fictional characters.

In that episode, Paladin must find and transport the inventor Alfred Nobel's latest discovery out of San Francisco -- a missing case of nitroglycerine.

Nobel was portrayed by one of the unsung greats among TV character actors, Milton Selzer. I'm not sure if he had a beard in that fifth season episode*, but it would not be far off the mark to say that he probably looked a bit like he's portrayed in the second picture, just after the real Alfred Nobel.

Toby O'B

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