Thursday, 14 May 2015


When Ludvig Nobel asked his brother Alfred to provide biographical information for a history of the Nobel family, he received the following resume – police-blotter style, which seems most informative:

Alfred Nobel – pitiful half-creature, should have been strangled by a humane doctor upon entry into life.
Principal merits: Keeps his nails clean and doesn’t burden the public.
Principal faults: No family, no bonhomie, no appetite.
Chief and only request: Not to be buried alive.
Greatest sin: Does not worship money.
University of Uppsala
Most important events in his life: None.

When he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Uppsala in 1893, he submitted the following cv:

Born on 21 October 1833, acquired his knowledge through private instruction, without attending an institute of higher education; worked mainly in the area of applied chemistry, developing explosives known as dynamite, blasting gelatin, smokeless powder, ballistite, and C89; member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 1884, member of the Royal Institute in London and the Société of Ingénieurs Civils in Paris, Knight of the Order of the North Star since 1880, and officer in the [French] Legion of Honour; published only one paper in English, which was awarded a silver medal.

Hmm. This cv needs editing. Wouldn’t get him a job today. But then Alfred Nobel didn’t need a job. Nor did he want any more honours to decorate his breast, stomach, and possibly even the behind.

(Source: Fritz Vögtle, Alfred Nobel; my trans.)

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