He was a chemist, playwright, philanthropist, and swan-pickler, but he is most often remembered for his ability to explode.
Shortly after birth young Alfred began exploding. He would be having a nice Swedish meal of mashed honeybees with milk, and suddenly -- BLAM! -- he would disappear in a flash of light and smoke. His mother Andreitte would sigh with annoyance. "Brännaren häst testikel! Den har skedd igen," (which means he exploded again! There goes his penis flying)After wards she would mutter, and leave the room. Over the next few minutes the scattered bits of Alfred Nobel would find themselves -- a kidney would crawl out from under the stove, his esophagus would drop from the ceiling light where it had been hanging like a pink snake, and his brain would hop down off the spice rack and ooze across the floor to join the rest of his organs.
Within 10 minutes little Alfred would be sitting in his highchair burping and squeaking happily, none the worse for the wear.
His father, Immanuel Nobel, had been a lowly rat-milker all his life, but he realized that his son Alfred had a valuable gift. When Alfred was twenty his father got him a job in a gunpowder factory, where Alfred taught other people to explode. Unfortunately, everyone else who achieved self-explosion ended up dead.
This was not the best outcome from the company's point of view. Alfred was fired.
For several years he worked in a Bergslagen silver mine as a human detonation device, but he later said that setting off black powder left a bad taste in his mouth. He left the mine and began to research cleaner, less smelly chemical ways to blow things up. Over the next several years Alfred Nobel invented several explosive compounds: gelignite, thermite, Jello, marmite, and, finally, dynamite.
Within a few years the Germans were using dynamite to blow up Frenchies in the Franco-Prussian War, and a few years later the Brits started dynamiting Boers in the Transvaal War. Alfred Nobel was mortified. He, of all people, knew how unpleasant it was to be blown up, and his early experience at the gunpowder factory had left him with dislike of making people dead.
He retreated to the tiny hamlet of Fjuckby and refused to have anything to do with his dynamite factories. Experiencing a "dark night of the soul" (smör natt om själ in Swedish) he sat down and penned "Nemesis", a tragedy in four acts involving incest, patricide, swan-pickling, and no explosions whatsoever. The play has never been performed, although elements of the plot was used in one episode of the American television show "Friends".
Then came the crowning blow: under the mistaken impression that Nobel had died, the French paper Idéotie Quotidienne published an obituary under the title Le marchand de la mort est mort (The merchant of death is dead). Nobel was mortified, and sued the newspaper for libel, defamation, patent infringement, bad taste, and poopheadedness.
He won. As Emile Zola said at the time, "Thees French newspapers, they is no good for nothings but to wipe the bum. They is all paper and no news! Ha, I make zee joke. J'accuse! J'accuse!"
The Nobel Prizes
Alfred Nobel used the money from the suit to establish the Nobel Prize, an award given every year for the largest herring caught in the Baltic Sea, the cleanest restroom in a major Stockholm hotel, and so forth.
These prizes are awarded yearly by the King of Sweden. Nominations are taken from the ranks of great achievers in the appropriate fields, and the winner is decided by an internationally recognized group of rat-milkers -- the Nobel Prize Committee -- which selects the winners by pulling slips of paper out of a hat.
Winners receive a cash endowment of 23 kronor, and a kick in the kneecap.
Alfred Nobel died in 1896 in Turino, Italy, where he had gone to research the use of pig hair for dynamite fuse. While plucking hairs from a group of swine the hogs turned on him and, in an act of porcine savagery, tore him to bits and then ate the bits. Alfred's power of self-explosion was too late and too little, as the subsequent explosion of his bits only caused an epidemic of belches in the iron-bellied pigs. Afterwards he was pooped out but was unable to regenerate because his bits were too slushy.