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Goofy Irony


December 10, 2012 by

This Day in Goofery

December 10
1896: Death of Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite–and apparently conscience-stricken about it–established the Nobel Prize in his will, to be awarded “to those persons who shall have contributed most materially to the benefit of mankind during the year immediately preceding.” When his brother Ludwig died in 1888, a French newspaper mistakenly ran an obituary for Alfred instead, which called him the “merchant of death.”

Source: KA-BOOM!

That didn’t sit well with him and to atone for this reputation he established the Nobel Prize as a reward for the inventors, creators and peacemakers of humanity. Dynamite made Nobel one of the world’s richest men–but a fat lot of good it did his relatives. “Inherited wealth,” said he, “is a misfortune which merely serves to dull man’s faculties.” So I guess if he had been your rich uncle, you’d have to win one of his prizes to see any of his money.

Nobel was a trained chemist who had opened a factory in Sweden to manufacture nitroglycerin, which factory blew up in 1864, killing a number of people including his younger brother Emil. Soon after he developed the relatively safer dynamite, and though it was an inherently destructive product, he saw it as a tool for peace as well. “The day when two army corps can annihilate each other in one second, all civilized nations, it is to be hoped, will recoil from war and discharge their troops.”

Yes, it was to be hoped. Boy was he wrong! More than a century later, troops are still discharging weapons. And his invention led to a side effect he could never have anticipated:

Source: 3Honks

Just in case you were wondering what’s so goofy about dynamite…

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This Day in Goofery
December 1

1997: Representatives from more than 150 countries conduct a global warming summit in Kyoto, Japan, and forge an agreement to control the emission of greenhouse gases

Also on this day
1998: Exxon and Mobil agree to merge, forging the world’s largest emitter* of greenhouse gases

*not necessarily borne out by research but excusable as goofing by hyperbole

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