Absolute Dynamite — Accidental inventions

2 min readSep 29, 2021

Asciano Sobrero is a name you’re unlikely to have heard of.

And yet his contribution to society was, if you’ll pardon the pun, explosive.

He was born in Casale Monferrato Italy in 1812 and worked as a chemist. In the 1840s, whilst working in a laboratory in Paris, he invented the substance known as nitroglycerin, an oily and highly explosive liquid.

Terrified by its enormous powers of destruction, Sobrero is later to have said of his creation,

“When I think of all the victims killed during nitroglycerine explosions, and the terrible havoc that has been wreaked, which in all probability will continue to occur in the future, I am almost ashamed to admit to be its discoverer.”

Whilst Sobrero saw no potential commercial use for it, in that same Parisian laboratory worked a Swedish man named, Alfred Nobel, who did.

Nobel believed that if he could find a way to tame its volatile nature then he would have a very effective replacement for the black gunpowder (first introduced from China in the 9th Century) used at the time.

Indeed, he had a vested interest in doing so because his family business was selling land mines and other explosives equipment.




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