Discovery of Dynamite: 1866

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Alfred Nobel was the discover of Dynamite. At the time when Nobel worked at a factory with his family, they were working with explosives but these explosives were very unstable. An accident killed many workers in the factory, including his brother. Nobel wanted to create a explosive that was much safer than what was previously used. In 1866, he discovered that a combination of nitroglycerin and diatomaceous earth made a much safer explosion that what the factories used to make, which was made from nitroglycerin and gunpowder.

Later in history, dynamite was used by both the Allies and the Central Powers in World War I. Nobel would not have liked this violent murderous use, but dynamite was very succesful and deadly a weapon. Not only is it used as a weapon, but dynamite is also used for building many structures such as dams. Also, it is used vastly in mining, excavation, and and demolition. Dynamite has greatly changed how we do things. It has made many industries much safer and has helped industrialize the world. Even though the current mixture for dynamite is much different, it still has the same effect.

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How Dynamite Is Made

Dynamite is any absorbent, porous material (for example sawdust or wood pulp) soaked in nitroglycerin, which is a very explosive substance once it begins burning. The absorbent material just makes nitroglycerin more stable. Varying amounts of ammonium nitrate or sodium nitrate may be added. Dynamite is usually set off using a blasting cap or detonator, which creates a smaller explosion to trigger the bigger explosion inside the dynamite itself. The hot gas expands at an extremely fast rate and therefore applies an extreme amount of pressure. This pressure explodes the container, creating a sudden release of a massive amount of energy and fire. This is how dynamite works, and why it is so powerful.

Dynamite in Action

What you see here is 1,000,000 pounds of concentrated dynamite exploding.
Although it somewhat resembles a nuclear blast, it is indeed not.
Dynamite is used most frequently in mining and caving to blast away large amounts of rock.

Fun Facts

  • dynamite is most commonly sold in an 8 inch (20 cm) cylinder wrapped in red paper
  • TNT and dynamite are NOT the same thing. TNT is a specific chemical compound called 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene.
  • a cylinder of dynamite contains 2.1 million joules of energy. in comparison, a 60 watt light bulb uses 60 joules of energy/second.
  • peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite. nitroglycerine is an explosive oil liquid made from nitrating
glycerol (which is used in soaps and creams.) glycerol is made from peanut oil, which is made from peanuts!

How Stuff Works
Memorable Events in 1866