Alfred Nobel: Facts About the Famous Scientist and Inventor

Here are some facts about Alfred Nobel.

  • Alfred Nobel was a Swedish businessman, chemist and inventor. He is known today for leaving much of his fortune to establish the annual Nobel Prize system.

  • Nobel was born in Sweden in 1833. He went to school in Sweden and France and became fluent in several European languages – French, English, Russian and German, as well as Swedish.
  • Alfred Nobel invented gelignite, an explosive, in 1874, and then invented dynamite two years later. His brother had died in a nitroglycerin explosion in the family’s factory a few years earlier.
  • When Nobel’s brother died, several papers mistakenly reported that Albert had died. He was upset to read himself described as a merchant of death, a reference to his work with explosives.
  • He went on to work in his father’s factory. The factory produced armaments for the Crimean War, and the Nobel family also became wealthy by developing oilfields in the Caspian Sea.
  • During his life, Nobel opened 90 arms factories and patented 350 of his inventions and discoveries. He is credited with inventing the detonator, gas meters, and ballistite, used to propel rockets.

Alfred Nobel

  • Nobel led a lonely life, and had a fear of being buried alive. He wrote several novels, poetry and a play called Nemesis, which in 2005, was staged at a theatre in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Alfred Nobel died of a heart attack in Italy, in 1891. He died a rich man and in his will he set aside most of his fortune to fund the Nobel Prize system.
  • A monument in St. Petersburg, Russia was dedicated in 1991 to celebrate 90 years since the first Nobel Prize was awarded. The synthetic element Nobelium was named after him in 1966.
  • The Nobel Prize comprises a medal, diploma and cash sum. Over 550 prizes have been awarded, the youngest recipient being Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai in 2014, aged 17.

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Alessandro Volta: Facts About the Famous Scientist

Here are some facts about Alessandro Volta.

  • Alessandro Volta was an Italian chemist and physicist. He discovered the gas methane, and is regarded as the inventor of the battery and the unit of measurement, the Volt.

  • He was born in Como, Italy in 1745. While at school, he learned Latin, French, English and German, all of which helped him to communicate later in his career with other European scientists.
  • Volta’s family wanted him to become a lawyer. However, he became a physics teacher at a local school and helped to invent a device that produced static electricity, called an electrophorus.
  • In 1778, Alessandro Volta was given the post of Head of Experimental Physics at the University of Pavia in Italy. He kept this important position for the next 40 years.
  • In 1791, Volta was voted a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. A few years later he was awarded the Society’s top prize for his contributions to the science of electricity.
  • In 1800, Volta invented a basic type of battery – the first of its kind. This invention led to the discovery of new chemical elements, and the development of the first electric motor.

Alessandro Volta

  • Volta worked closely with an Italian biologist, Luigi Galvani. The two experimented with conducting electricity through the legs of dead frogs, which led to Mary Shelley writing the famous book Frankenstein.
  • During his life, Volta travelled all over Europe meeting other scientists. The French emperor Napoleon was so impressed with his work that he made him a Count.
  • Alessandro Volta died in Italy in 1827. He is remembered with a memorial and a small museum near Lake Como, which displays some of his scientific equipment and experiments.
  • The electrical unit of a Volt was named for Alessandro Volta. He also gave his name to the term photovoltaic, meaning the conversion of light into electricity.

Karl Benz: Facts About the Car Designer and Inventor

Here are some facts about Karl Benz.

  • Karl Benz was a German car designer and engine designer. He is considered to be the designer of the first motor vehicle to be powered by an internal combustion engine.

  • Benz was born in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1844 and originally wanted to be a locksmith. He studied electrical engineering at university, and then worked in iron construction and as a draftsman.
  • As a young man, Karl Benz enjoyed riding his bicycle. While riding, he thought about how practical it would be to have a machine that was able to power itself.
  • In the 1870s, Benz established a metal working factory in Mannheim, Germany. He began to build different parts for an engine driven vehicle, and the world’s first car was built in 1885.
  • Benz’s first car was called the Benz Patent Motorwagen. The motorized tricycle had no gears, and was difficult to control, crashing into a wall while being demonstrated.

Karl Benz

  • His wife secretly tested the new car by driving it a distance of 106 km to her mother’s house. Today, every two years an antique car race is held along that same stretch of road.
  • In 1894, Benz made the Velo, the world’s first production car. It took part in the world’s first car race in France, with an average speed of just over 12 kilometres per hour.
  • Karl Benz designed the world’s first lorry in 1895. A year later, he introduced a revolutionary flat engine design, a design still used by car manufacturers such as Porsche.

Old Benz Cars

  • By the 1920s, the Benz car company was competing with its biggest rival, Daimler. The depression led to the two companies merging into one company called Daimler-Benz.
  • Karl Benz died in 1929, aged 84. His last home was designated a historic landmark and is still used today as a meeting place for a charity that honours his memory.

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Marie Curie: Facts About the Famous Scientist

Here are some facts about Marie Curie.

  • Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and is best known for her important research on radioactivity.

  • She was born in Poland in 1867, and studied science in Warsaw and Paris. She tutored in the evenings to earn extra money, but sometimes she didn’t earn enough money. Apparently, she once fainted from hunger.
  • Marie married Pierre Curie, a physics and chemistry teacher, in 1895. During the late 1890s, much of Marie’s research was carried out in a converted shed next to a college in Paris.
  • In 1898, Marie Curie and her husband discovered the element radium. The Curies discovered that radium could be used to destroy diseased cells in the body.
  • Curie and her husband succeeded in isolating radium as an element in 1904. She also invented the word ‘radioactive’ and devised an international measurement for radioactive emissions.

Marie Curie

  • During World War I, Marie Curie established France’s first military radiology centre. She treated over a million wounded soldiers with portable X-rays, and was made director of radiology at the Red Cross.
  • During her lifetime, Curie didn’t know how dangerous radiation exposure was. She often had radioactive materials in her home or laboratory, and even used a sample as a nightlight.
  • Curie died in 1934, from complications caused by prolonged exposure to radiation. Her remains are in the Pantheon in Paris, along with her husband’s, and she is one of the few women to be buried there.

  • Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 and in chemistry in 1911. Several scientific institutions and schools are named after her, as well as a nuclear reactor and a Paris metro station.
  • In 1944, the 96th element on the periodic table was discovered, and named Curium.
  • Marie Curie has been voted the most inspirational woman in the scientific world.

James Dyson: Facts and Information About the British Inventor

Here are some facts about James Dyson.

  • James Dyson is a British designer and inventor. He founded the Dyson Company and is best known for devising and promoting the Dyson Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner.

  • Dyson was born in Cromer, Norfolk in 1947. He was good at long distance running while at school, and at college he studied furniture, interior design and engineering.
  • In 1970, he designed the Sea Truck, a type of high speed amphibious landing vehicle. The innovative design won a Design Council Award and was featured on the popular television programme, Tomorrow’s World.
  • Dyson experimented with a bagless vacuum cleaner design during the 1970s. He also devised the idea of using a ball instead of wheels, allowing the machine to turn more easily.

James Dyson

  • In 2000, Dyson designed a washing machine, although it wasn’t successful. He also came up with his Dyson Airblade hand dryer which today is a common sight in many public bathrooms.
  • In 2002, Dyson designed a water sculpture which was displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show. It is an optical illusion, in which several streams of water appear to be flowing uphill.
  • James Dyson is a strong supporter of a single European currency. Dyson also publicly encouraged Great Britain to leave the European Union before the vote in 2016.

  • James Dyson owns three homes in Gloucestershire, Chelsea in London, and the South of France. He also owns a 91 metre long yacht, one of the largest in Britain.
  • In 1998, Dyson was awarded the CBE medal. He has received several other awards including a 2016 Order of Merit for achievements in industrial design, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2015.
  • The James Dyson Foundation was set up in 2002 to encourage education in design and engineering. An award is given every year to recognize a graduate in engineering or design.

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Samuel Morse: Facts About the Famous Inventor

Here are some facts about Samuel Morse.

  • Samuel Morse was born in 1791 in Charlestown, Massachusetts in the United States.

  • His father was a pastor and geographer.
  • Samuel Morse studied at Phillips Academy and Yale College. He supported himself by selling his paintings.
  • In 1811, Samuel Morse and his father traveled to England. They stayed there for three years and Morse worked on improving his painting technique.
  • One his most well-known paintings is called Dying Hercules.
  • In 1816, Samuel Morse painted President John Adams. He also painted the Marquis de Layfayette, a leading French supporter of the American Revolution.
  • Morse traveled to Europe in the early 1830s. He visited Italy, France and Switzerland and became friends with James Fennimore Cooper (author of The Last of the Mohicans) after meeting him in Paris.
  • In 1832, Samuel Morse met Charles Thomas Jackson, a student of electromagnetism. Keen to develop a rapid means of communicating over long distance, Morse developed the single-wire telegraph.

Samuel Morse

  • He developed the Morse code with Alfred Vail, a way of transmitting text through a series of on/off tones, became the main language of telegraphy.
  • In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail demonstrated the electric telegraph to the public at the Speedwell Ironworks in New Jersey.
  • In 1844, Morse set up a telegraph wire between Washington DC and Baltimore. The first official message sent was “What hath God wrought.”
  • In the 1850s, Samuel Morse was in favour of slavery, believing it to be sanctioned by God.
  • Morse also invented a machine for cutting marble for three-dimensional sculptures.
  • Samuel Morse died in 1872, in New York City. He is buried at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
  • In 1871, a statue of Samuel Morse was put up in Central Park, New York. More than 10000 people witnessed the statue’s unveiling.
  • The death of Samuel Morse’s first wife was the event that triggered his work on developing the telegraph. He was informed by his wife’s illness by a message sent by horse messenger. He raced to her side but he hadn’t received the message in time. By the time he arrived, she was already dead and buried.

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Humphry Davy: Facts About The Famous Scientist and Inventor

Here are some facts about Humphry Davy.

  • Humphry Davy was born on 17th December 1778 in Penzance, Cornwall.

  • He went to Truro Grammar School.
  • In 1794 his father died and Humprhy Davy was apprenticed to John Bingham Borlase, a surgeon from Penzance.
  • As an apprentice, Humphry became interested chemistry and carried out experiments in John Tonkin’s house, where he was boarder.
  • As a young man, Humphry Davy wrote poetry and painted landscapes.
  • In 1798, Davy became a member of the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol.
  • In Bristol he became friends with James Watt and his son Gregory, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.
  • In 1804, Davy became a Fellow of the Royal Society. His lectures often involved dangerous experiments with different types of gas.
  • Humphry Davy was a key pioneer in the use of electrolysis to split compounds. He isolated several new elements, including potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, boron and barium.
  • In 1810, Humphry Day named chlorine, after proving that it didn’t in fact contain oxygen and was element.

Humphry Davy

  • Davy damaged his eyesight in an experiment with nitrogen trichloride. He hired Michael Faraday as a co-worker, as a result.
  • He was knighted as Sir Humphry Davy in 1812.
  • In 1813, he demonstrated that iodine was an element, and he showed that diamond is made of pure carbon.
  • He visited Alessandro Volta in Milan, Italy in 1814.
  • Davy designed his version of the safety lamp for use in coal mines. It used wire gauze to enclose the lamp’s flames, preventing the methane in the mines from igniting. The Davy Lamp worked well at first, but the gauze rusted very quickly in the mines, making it unsafe to use after a while.
  • In 1820, he was named President of the Royal Society.
  • He died in 1829 in Geneva, Switzerland. He is buried in Plainpalais Cemetery in Switzerland. There is a memorial tablet for him in Westminster Abbey, London.
  • A lunar crater has been named after him.
  • There is a Humphry Davy statue in Penzance, Cornwall.
  • He enjoyed fly-fishing and wrote a book on the subject called Salmonia.
  • Humphry Davy was addicted to nitrous oxide (laughing gas).

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Benjamin Zephaniah: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Benjamin Zephaniah.

  • Benjamin Zephaniah was a British poet and writer. In 2008, he was voted one of Britain’s top 50 post World War 2 writers, in a poll by the Times newspaper.

  • Benjamin Zephaniah was born in Birmingham in April, 1958, the son of Caribbean immigrants. He was dyslexic, and left school at 13, as he couldn’t read or write.
  • His poetry was influenced by the street culture of Jamaica. His first performance was at age 10, and by 15, he was quite well known in and around Birmingham.
  • Benjamin Zephaniah moved to London when he was 22.
  • He published his first book of poetry which sold well. He also made a name writing and reading his poems in clubs and other venues.
  • His poems seemed to capture the mood of the early 1980s in Britain, and were often about homelessness or unemployment. He was described as Britain’s most recognizable poet.
  • Zephaniah was known for his strong and often controversial beliefs and opinions. He suggested changing the British voting system, and he publicly turned down an OBE medal.
  • His poetry book for children, Talking Turkeys, was an immediate bestseller. He has also written several novels aimed specifically at teenagers, as well as several collections of poetry.
  • In 1991, Zephaniah performed on all 6 continents in just a 3-week period.
  • He had a fan club in the central African country of Malawi, and spent part of his time in Beijing, China.
  • He has produced several records, mostly in a reggae or dub poetry style. However, he described his album Naked as being a mix of jazz, reggae, rock and hip-hop.
  • Benjamin Zephaniah was awarded the BBC Young Playwright’s Award, as well as honorary doctorates from several UK universities. His version of the song Tam Lyn Retold won a best song award in 2008.
  • He was a vegan and campaigned for animal rights.
  • He played the character of Jimmy in the Peaky Blinders TV series.
  • He died on 7th December 2023 following his diagnosis of a brain tumor two months previously.

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Giuseppe Arcimboldo: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

  • Giuseppe Arcimboldo was born in Milan, Italy in 1526 or 1527.
  • His father was an artist.

  • When he was in his early twenties, Giuseppe Arcimboldo designed stained glass and painted frescoes.
  • In 1562, Arcimboldo was made the portraitist to Ferdinand I. He served at the Habsburg Court in Vienna.
  • He later fulfilled the same role for Maximillian II and Rudolf II in the court in Prague.
  • During his life, Giuseppe Arcimboldo produced many works of art on religious subjects, but he is most well known for his portraits of people made up of fruit, vegetables and other objects from nature.
Autumn by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Autumn by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
  • From a distance, these portraits look like regular portraits of human beings, but up close it is obvious that they are constructed from cleverly painted objects. The paintings are as much still life as they are portraits.
  • Giuseppe Arcimboldo died on 11th July 1593 in Milan.
  • Many of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings were taken from the Rudolf II collection in 1648, when Sweden invaded Prague during the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Today his work can be seen in several different museums and galleries, including: the Louvre in Paris, Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado.
  • The work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo influenced the work of the surrealist painters, such as Salvador Dali.

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