calliope, calliope 2018

dynamite – a fictional account

photo credits here

by cayden

(Note: this is a completely fictional account about of how Emil Oskar Nobel, brother of Alfred Nobel, died from the accidental detonation of Nitroglycerin, and the effect of it on Alfred as well as on the creation of dynamite.)

Heleneborg, Sweden, 1864
The Nobel’s armaments factory

“Come on, come on, those Nitroglycerin tubes won’t package themselves!” Emil barked at the line of workers preparing the explosive tubes for transport. He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Those idiots…”

“All right, all right, I get the point!” Simon grumbled, shoving the tube into the box. It was his first day on the job, and already he was getting yelled at. What a bad start to the job… As he stuffed the next tube in, the entire box of nitroglycerin wobbled. “Careful!” Emil yelled, this time with real panic in his voice. “Do you want us all to die?!”

“I get it, I get it…highly combustible, even more highly sensitive, explosive, right?” Simon said caustically, ignoring procedures entirely and just throwing a whole handful of tubes in. “how explosive can it be-”

In a split second, the miniscule impact produced by the throw created just enough kinetic energy to destabilise the atoms, and start decomposition. An atom near the impact point lost control, turning from a cycle of natural law to a shockwave of pure, uncontrolled energy. The blast originally would not be so damaging to a human, but unfortunately, the single atom’s blast was enough to blow open hundreds of those tubes, causing the nitroglycerin to spill out…

The explosion seemed like the blast of an enormous lightning bolt, except to people fifty miles away. Anybody looking in the direction would have seen nothing but a corona of fire. After the initial explosion cleared, there was nothing left of the Nobel’s factory except an empty tube, half buried underground and half broken, but miraculously still somewhat intact despite the huge explosion.

The next day, the social shockwave of public outrage and scandal travelled on the wings of the morning news’ headlines: Nobel killed in factory explosion! Nitroglycerin blamed!

Nobel Offices, somewhere in Sweden
Two days later

Alfred received the day’s status report from his secretary stoically. The public outrage at the Nobel factory explosion was still raging, and many groups had been pressuring him to stop. Many mining companies had also severed ties with him, citing reasons such as employee safety and the chemical’s tendency to explode to the slightest heat or pressure, making it hard for them to use it. Dealing with these problems without his brother was…difficult, to say the least. Alfred cut the secretary off abruptly, then said, “Thank you. I will deal with these issues promptly.” She gritted her teeth, then strode out.” Alfred watched until the door was closed, them put his face in his hands. His brother, the businessman, could deal with this so easily. He could calm the companies, the activists… he could resolve it all so quickly! If only it had been Alfred who went to the factory to check on business instead… He was a chemist, for god’s sake! How could he run a business, especially at this sort of juncture? The only good thing he could do as make explosives, like the one that killed Emil… If only he had found a method to make it less volatile… but he would! He would do it! A crazed smile grew on his face, as he got up to go to his personal laboratory. He even had a name ready… Dynamite!

(End note: The author tried to stick to official histories about Nobel for this project. Nobel in fact  had a factory that was blown up, killing his brother. This caused him to create dynamite, an explosive less heat-and-pressure sensitive but no less explosive. Later in life, he regretted hi actions, and included the Nobel Peace Prize as a large part of his will. The author apologises beforehand for any and all historical inaccuracy.)

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