Anthropology 350: Environment, Culture, and Technology
November 1, 2014
Dynamite – A History
Dynamite, one of the brilliant inventions of human kind, was an explosive material originally based on nitroglycerin, using diatomaceous earth, or another absorbent substance such as powdered shells, clay, sawdust, or wood pulp. In 1867, the original dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel after many failed experiments. At the beginning, dynamite was invented because Nobel wanted to help to make the lives and works of constructors and miners easier and faster. Therefore, dynamite was used commonly in industries that required a lot of heavy workloads and had extreme workforces such as mining and constructing industry. However, after Nobel passed away, with the expansion of technology, dynamite became more powerful and dangerous because many people used it for wrong purpose, and it was established into one of the most destructive weapons, which Nobel did not want his invention to become. This paper would be addressing more details about the discovery of dynamite, its kinds, its competitors, and its applications through history.
Dynamite, one of the dangerous and destructive weapons nowadays, was founded in 1876 by Alfred Nobel with the original name, “Nobel Blasting Powder.” Based on the original dynamite, Nobel and other scientists who worked with him changed the ratio of the origin’s components and introduced three different kinds of dynamite. The three types of dynamite, classic dynamite, lithofractuer, and nitroglycerine dissolved in nitrocellulose, soon turned out to be popular. Although dynamite had many competitors such as black powder and pure nitroglycerine, dynamite was used extensively because of its safety and harmlessness. People used dynamite in mining and constructing industries when it was first designed. With the help of dynamite, life became easier and work was completed quicker. However, the development of society has led to the misuse of dynamite. It quickly became popular as an alternative to gunpowder, and finally it was developed into one of the deadly matter of human kind, which harms not only the people but also the environment. Many people say that had dynamite been never discovered, the environment would have been protected and many meaningless wars would have not occurred. (Kohler 238)
History of Dynamite:
Discovered by Italian chemist Ascario Sobrero in 1846, nitroglycerin was highly unstable and difficult to handle, and accidental explosions were not uncommon. Alfred Bernhard Nobel, having a strong interest in nitroglycerin and how it could be put to practical use in construction work, realized that the safety problems of nitroglycerine needed to be solved and a method needed to be developed for the controlled detonation of nitroglycerin. In the United States, he visited John Ericsson, the Swedish-American engineer who had developed the screw propeller for ships. In 1852, Alfred Nobel was asked to come back and work in the family enterprise which was booming because of its deliveries to the Russian army. Together with his father, his young brother – Emil, and several scientists, Nobel began performing experiments to develop nitroglycerin as a commercially and technically useful explosive near Stockholm in 1862. However, one accident happening during an incorrect experiment killed Emil and numerous people in 1864. Despite the personal tragedy, Nobel continued his work with this dangerous liquid, working on a boat in the middle of a lake before conducting his experiments in a factory. In 1866, he discovered that mixing nitroglycerin with kieselguhr, diatomaceous earth, stabilized and reduced the volatility of the explosive. Diatomaceous earth is formed by the fossil remains of single-celled plankton called diatoms, and the result is an absorbent material which absorbs the nitroglycerin. Alfred named the product dynamite –