Today is the Nobel Day, and the Nobel Prizes will be awarded in his honor in Stockholm and Oslo. I wasn’t invited (although I have actually been to the Nobel Award Ceremony once), but I celebrated Nobel myself by 3D printing my own “nitroglycerin” molecule.

Alfred Nobel changed the world in 1867 by inventing dynamite – nitroglycerin mixed with diatomaceous earth (“kieselgur” in German). Dynamite made the highly explosive nitroglycerin much less dangerous to handle. Liquid nitroglycerin is a great explosive, but it is unstable and killed dozens of people in accidents, including Alfred Nobel’s brother.

The invention of dynamite made construction of roads, tunnels, building and other infrastructure that requires blasting tremendously much easier and safer. That definitely changed the world. Nobel was granted 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous. Unfortunately, dynamite also made weapons more effective. After reading a premature obituary which condemned him for profiting from the sales of arms, he bequeathed his fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes.

Nitroglycerin is also widely used to treat chest pain. This use was discovered in the late 1800s, and Alfred Nobel himself was prescribed nitroglycerin shortly before his death in 1896, something he found very ironic.

You can download the 3D printable nitroglycerin molecule created by user NiklasN from Thingiverse.com here. Other links in the text lead to Wikipedia.org, which is the source for the information about Alfred Nobel in this post.

A 3D printed “nitroglycerin molecule” next to a chocolate Nobel medal from the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. The model is printed in PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), a biodegradable plastics made from corn.