We owe a great deal to dynamite. Alfred Nobel made a fortune from his 1860s invention of its detonator; he left his money to fund the Nobel prizes.
Nobel’s detonator invention helped build most of the roads, bridges, mines and dams in the world, taming the rough surface of the globe. The Nobel awards have spurred innovations in medicine, the sciences, literature, and peace. It’s ironic that explosives are also used to kill people.
After WWII, the United States was the strongest economic and military power in the world. Now Saudi Arabia has more oil, the Indians are taking our work home, and the Chinese have a big chunk of our money.
The world changes.
In 2000 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Kim Dae Jung; 2001: The United Nations and Kofi Annan; 2002: President Jimmy Carter; 2003: Shirin Ebadi; 2004: Wangari Maathi: 2005: The International Atomic Energy Agency and Mohamed El Baradei; 2006: Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank; 2007: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore; 2008: Martti Ahtisaari; 2009: President Barack Obama.
Fifteen minutes into the flight from Kansas City to Toronto, the captain announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, an engine has failed. Our flight will take an hour longer, but we still have three engines left.”
Thirty minutes later the captain announced, “One more engine has failed and the flight will take an additional two hours. We can fly just fine on two engines.”
An hour later the captain announced, “One more engine has failed and our arrival will be delayed by three hours. But don’t worry … we still have one engine left.”
A young blonde passenger turned to the man in the next seat and exploded, “If we lose one more engine, we’ll be up here all day!”
A woman who died found herself being greeted by St. Peter. She asked him, “Did I really make it to heaven?”
“Yes, my dear,” St. Peter replied. “These are the gates to heaven. But you must do one more thing before you can enter.”
The woman asked St. Peter what she must do. “Spell a word,” St. Peter replied.
“What word?” she asked.
“Any word,” answered St. Peter. “It’s your choice.”
The woman promptly replied, “Then the word I will spell is love. L-o-v-e.” St. Peter congratulated her on having made it to Heaven and asked if she would mind taking his place while he went to the bathroom.
“But what should I do if someone comes while you’re gone?”
St. Peter instructed her to simply have any newcomers to the Pearly Gates spell a word, as she had done.
So the woman was sitting in St. Peter’s chair when a man approached. She recognized her husband.
“What happened?” she cried. “Why are you here?”
Her husband stared at her for a moment, then said, “I was so drunk when I left your funeral, I was in a car crash. And now I’m here? Did I really make it to Heaven?”
“Not so fast,” said the woman. “First you have to spell a word.”
“What word?” he asked.
The woman responded, “Czechoslovakia.”