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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John Boyd Dunlop: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about John Boyd Dunlop.

  • John Boyd Dunlop was a Scottish vet and inventor. He is best known for his work in developing the first pneumatic or inflatable tyre, a device still used today.

  • Dunlop was born in Scotland in 1840, and moved to Ireland at age 27. He established a large veterinary practice, which had become one of Ireland’s largest by the mid-1880s.
  • He found that solid wood, rubber or iron wheels made cycling difficult on the bumpy and rough roads. He experimented by using an inflatable rubber tyre on his son’s tricycle.
  • In 1889, cyclist Willie Hume tested Dunlop’s tyres by taking part in several races in the UK. He was the first member of the public to buy a bicycle with pneumatic tyres.

John Boyd Dunlop

  • Another Scot, Robert Thomson, also developed a pneumatic tyre about 40 years before Dunlop. Thomson had patented his invention in France in 1846 and in the US in 1847.
  • Dunlop was told that the tyre had been invented by someone else, but still set up his own company. It was known as the Pneumatic Tyre and Booth’s Cycle Agency.
  • In 1896 the company was sold to another UK company and was renamed Dunlop Rubber. The company went on to make different types of car tyres, as well as aeroplane tyres and golf balls.
  • John Boyd Dunlop never became rich from his invention. After selling his part of the company, he retired to Dublin where he bought part of a drapery company.
  • John Boyd Dunlop died unexpectedly in 1921.
  • In 2005 Dunlop was admitted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, and an Irish bank issued a 10 pound note with his picture on it.
  • Dunlop’s first pneumatic tyre can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The museum also displays a bust of Dunlop, as well as several historic cars.

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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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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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The Wright Brothers: Facts About Orville and Wilbur

Here are some facts about the Wright brothers.

  • The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were American engineers, inventors and bicycle makers. They are famous for inventing, constructing and flying the first aeroplane (or airplane) in the world.

  • Orville was born in 1871 in Ohio, and Wilbur in Indiana, in 1867. They left school to start a printing business, and then in 1892, opened a bicycle sales and repair shop in Ohio.
  • A toy flying machine gave the brothers an interest in flight and aerodynamics. They designed and built several model gliders, and experimented with a wind tunnel.
  • The first flight of the brothers’ Flyer, their plane, took place on December 17th, 1903 in the North Carolina sand dunes. The site was chosen for its soft landing spots, regular breezes and privacy.
  • The fourth flight they made that day lasted 59 seconds and covered about 280 metres. The brothers tossed a coin to decide who would fly the machine first.

Wright Brothers

  • The Wright Flyer was just over six metres long, with a wingspan of 12 metres. The plane weighed 274 kg and was capable of flying at almost 50 kilometres per hour.
  • In 1909 the brothers created the American Wright Company. They became world famous, made longer test flights and flew in front of the King of England.

  • Orville Wright died in 1948; Wilbur in 1912 aged just 45. Their last home in Dayton, Ohio is now on the US register of Historic Places, and is one of 15 aviation related sites in the area.
  • The Wright Brothers’ Flyer is in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, although for many years Wilbur refused to donate it. In 1969, Neil Armstrong took a small piece of it to the moon.
  • The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina commemorates the brothers’ achievement. A life size replica of the brothers’ 1903 plane can be seen at the site.

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Louis Braille: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Louis Braille.

  • Louis Braille was a French teacher and inventor. He is best known for his system of reading for the blind or visually impaired, which is still used today.

  • Braille was born near Paris, France in 1809.
  • At three years old, he accidentally stuck a sharp tool in his eye, developed an infection and was completely blind by five.
  • Louis Braille attended one of the world’s first schools for blind children. He was taught to read using a system of raised letters but realized the system could be improved.
  • He learned of a system of dots and dashes used by the French army. Braille made changes to it, and published his reading system for the blind in 1829 at the age of 20. It replaced letter symbols with raised dots and dashes.
  • A few years later, Braille became a teacher and also wrote several works that helped to explain his reading system. He died from tuberculosis in 1852, aged 43.
  • By the late 19th century, the Braille system was being used all over France, and in 1916 it was officially used in the US. More recent developments include braille for email and computer terminals.
  • There are statues and memorials to Louis Braille all over the world, and he has been described as one of the 100 most influential inventors. His childhood home is a museum devoted to his work.

Louis Braille

  • Braille was the world’s first binary system of writing. The 64 combinations of dots can represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks and complete words and can be in languages other than English.
  • Despite the introduction of electronic reading devices, braille is still important. In the US, an estimated 50,000 blind people rely on it; in the UK about 5,000 people use it regularly.
  • World Braille Day is celebrated every January 4th, Louis Braille’s birth date. In 2009, several countries introduced special coins to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

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Nikola Tesla: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Nikola Tesla.

  • Nikola Tesla was an Austrian born inventor, physicist and engineer. He is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

  • He was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia.
  • Tesla attended college in Graz, Austria, often studying for over 16 hours a day. He avoided being drafted into the army by running away and hiding in the mountains.
  • In 1882 he worked installing incandescent lighting in Paris. In 1884 he emigrated to New York, working in Thomas Edison’s factory, helping to develop a high voltage street lighting system.
  • In New York, Tesla stayed in different hotels, often without paying the bill. He fed pigeons from the window and spent a large amount of money on a device to help a wounded pigeon return to health.
  • Nikola Tesla created his own electric lighting company in 1885. He patented over 100 inventions for AC electricity devices and technology, often competing against Thomas Edison.
  • Tesla invented a steam powered generator. He also devised a remote control radio device, carried out research into X-rays, and suggested providing free electricity to everyone.

Nikola Tesla

  • One of Tesla’s most important inventions was the Tesla Coil, a device used in radio transmitters. Today, this electrical device is still widely used in radio technology.
  • Tesla was concerned about the environment, as well as the quality of life, and later in his life became a vegetarian. He was also obsessed with the number three, and apparently he had a fear of touching people’s hair.
  • Nikola Tesla died in New York in 1943. His ashes are contained in a round box which is on display in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia.
  • The Nikola Tesla award was introduced in 1975 for contributions to electricity use. Tesla also has an airport, a planet, a crater on the moon and over 100 streets named after him.

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Blaise Pascal: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Blaise Pascal.

  • Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, inventor, mathematician and philosopher. He also studied the properties of fluids, and researched and wrote about probability theory and projective geometry.

  • He was born in Clermont-Ferrand, France in 1623, and was interested in mathematics and science from an early age. By age 16 he was presenting mathematical theories that he had devised.
  • In 1642, Pascal invented a calculator with movable dials, to help his father calculate taxes. He devised and built 20 calculating machines, making him one of the first people to construct a mechanical calculator.
  • Pascal was fascinated by the concept of the vacuum, and he conducted important research. During one of his experiments he carried a barometer to the top of a 50 metre high Paris church tower.
  • The hydraulic press and the syringe were both invented by Blaise Pascal. He also devised an early version of a roulette game, and experimented with measuring pressure with a barometer.
  • Blaise Pascal developed a mathematical theory of probability, based on his interest in gambling. He also carried out important work into the relationship between gasses and liquids.

Blaise Pascal

  • Pascal became interested in religion and philosophy and wrote important works on the subjects. His famous work, the Provincial Letters, was written to defend another theologian of the time.
  • After having a religious vision in 1654, Blaise Pascal became less interested in science and mathematics. He wrote several important books on Christianity and philosophy, such as his book, the Thoughts.
  • One of his last achievements was the development of an early bus route to transport many people at once.
  • He died in Paris in 1662, rejecting the help of his doctor.
  • Blaise Pascal has lent his name to a programming language, a unit of pressure and a hydrostatics law. Pascal’s Triangle, a diagram of prime numbers, is also named for him.

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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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