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The Topic: Irony?

  Eccentrica G

Apparently, the man who established the Nobel Peace Prize also invented dynamite and sold it to the military.

Go figure.


  Dr. Niles Crane

Ah, the man who established the Nobel Peace Prize? You mean, perhaps, Alfred Nobel? Yes, it's fairly common knowledge (at least I had thought) that he developed dynamite, although saying he 'sold it to the military' isn't entirely accurate, he sold it to everybody. He developed it as a safer form of nitroglycerine, which had recently been developed at the time. In fact, his brother and several others died in an explosion while experimenting with it, which probably influenced his search for a safe formulation.

  Dr. Niles Crane

In fact, dynamite has more civil (for instance construction and mining) uses than military ones, since despite what you've seen in animated features, lighting a stick of dynamite and throwing it at the enemy is generally considered a poor tactic. Some do say that the destruction caused by his invention lead him to create the Peace Prize, and I do not doubt that had an effect. But the development of the Peace Prize (which is of course only one of the Nobel prizes, obviously) can perhaps be more properly traced at least in part to the fact that Nobel was in a fact a rather lonely man. When he was in his 40s, he advertised in a newspaper "Wealthy, highly educated elderly gentleman seeks lady of mature age, versed in languages, as secretary and supervisor of household". The most qualified applicant turned out to be an Austrian woman, Countess Bertha Kinsky. After working for Nobel for about two months she decided to return to Austria to marry Count Arthur von Suttner. In spite of this the two remained friends and kept writing letters to each other for decades. Over the years Bertha von Suttner became increasingly critical of the arms race. She wrote a rather famous book Lay Down Arms and became a prominent figure in the peace movement. No doubt this influenced Alfred Nobel when he wrote his final will which was to include a Prize for persons or organizations who promoted peace. Interestingly, several years after the Nobel's death, the Norwegian Parliament awarded the 1905 Peace Prize to one Bertha von Suttner.

  Dr. Niles Crane

It would be cynical of course to say that the Nobel Peace Prize exists today because a scientist had a crush on a peace activist. But anyone who denies there was an effect also probably never went to a rally for some cause célèbre in order to impress an attractive young activist.

  Dr. Niles Crane

Since oddly, I was not as interested in saving the Seattle Experimental Mime Ballet as a certain young protester named Maris was lead to believe.

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