SCIENCE AND EDUCATION


Golden Bough of Immortality
(Thoughts about great Nobels family and Prizes instituted by this family)

So either in the third millennium, each last month of the year we are still looking forward to getting the news from Stockholm. Who at this time will be recognized the best of humanity? Who endowed with the genius of creativity by the grace of God, could make a revolutionary contribution to the advancement and improvement of life on this planet? Whose name will be forever inscribed in the annals of the history of mankind? Who will be awarded the golden laurel branch of glory, immortality and memory by a grateful human race?

Actually, the figurativeness we use is only the metaphorical form of expressing the high point that is contained in the act of a global recognition of the achievements of different personalities, who allowed humanity to make a step towards perfection by its activities. Of course, this is not a laurel branch, this is a glittering gold medal of high grade, with a face of quite terrestrial but yet outstanding and phenomenal man - Alfred Nobel - engraved on it. Let me say that immortal blaze of this medal was kindled by two main components. First, of course, is the genius of Nobel, and the second is the richest hydrocarbons resources of our Baku. One could hardly exist without the other. And there is no exaggeration...

Alfred Bernhard Nobel for a long time, from the age of nine, lived in the Russian Empire. He brilliantly spoke Russian, and dialects of those countries where he had to live and work by the will of his bright destiny. He spoke French, German, and English like native. Having a command of many languages was as natural for him as his natural talent for invention.

In the diary of Arne Olof Svensson, chamberlain of King of Sweden and Norway, Oscar II, there is a note, which says: "... His Majesty also had a long talk with Mr. Nobel of Ryudbekov family. During a conversation he easily skipped from one language to another. His Majesty emphasized this, and Nobel Ryudbekov immediately did not fail to boast that he knows the language of the Caucasian Tatars (Azerbaijanis - Ed.), and he gained fame as Croesus on a black stinking mire… ".

Chamberlain of the monarch, who, judging by the content of his notes, disliked Alfred Nobel Ryudbekov, apparently implied Baku oil under the "black stinking slime". Here we can argue with him. By the time the Nobel arrived in Baku, he was already a wealthy man.

Inspired by the chemistry, Alfred, like his father, a fairly but soon made his first, as many wrote then, “an epoch-making invention.” We are talking about "Nobel’s exploder." Then he invented dynamite, smokeless powder, and upgraded nitroglycerin as an explosive substance.

In this regard, we should particularly emphasize that by creating his novelties, he thought about their peaceful use. They had to make a fundamental change in the construction of mines, roads and tunnels. Alfred Nobel also worked in the production of synthetic materials and did a lot for the then emerging communication systems. A total of 355 patented inventions belong to him.

At the same time his entrepreneurship activity was no less ebullient. In this area Nobel revealed as a very complex and multifaceted personality. As a member of the Association of the Nobel Brothers in Baku, he made a fortune much higher than he had before. He has got his own laboratories in Germany, England, Italy, France and Sweden. At the end of his life, his empire encompassed approximately 90 companies and businesses in 20 countries.

After leaving Russia, Nobel for a short time lived in Stockholm, and then moved to Paris and had been living there for many years. A year before his death in Paris, on November 27, 1895, he made the unusual testament, which, after the publication had the effect of exploding dynamite invented by him. The world was utterly amazed. He told to sell all his property, form the Foundation from the proceeds and invest all of his acquired capital in "safe securities". Looking ahead, we may say, that now the Foundation’s assets amount to approximately 400 million Swedish crowns.

The interest on these assets, as he wrote in his will, should be "annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical work by the Caroline Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting.”

As you know, the Nobel Prizes award ceremonies are traditionally held on December 10, the day of death of Alfred Nobel, and are carried out on carefully developed scenario, the whole world keep an eye on these ceremonies. The Nobel family, and specifically the eldest of the brothers Ludwig and later his son Emmanuel, were authors of their prizes. Note that all of them were of the same rank and contained the idea of a single stimulus - to encourage technological progress of the world both financially and ethically. The financially their money was secured by incomes from the exploitation of the Baku oil fields. That is objective evidence given by Swedish historian and financier Bergengren: "... it is a decision of Russian Nobels to withdraw certain funds accumulated, in particular, due to the exploitation of Baku oil fields, and transfer them to the fund of the Nobel Prize, was a crucial factor in the origin of Nobel Prizes."

At the present time, when Azerbaijan is experiencing the second oil boom, it's hard not to recall the role of the Nobel brothers in the development of the oil business in our country, where more than a century ago, they started commercial operation of oil deposits in Binagadi.

In 1896 they made a shock-way cable-drilling on an oil well under the number 1004 at a depth of 403 meters. It was a record depth at that time.

It is particularly important to note that the drilling equipment was designed by the Nobel brothers, and it formed the basis of the Azerbaijan petroleum engineering. Therefore, we should remember their services for our city Baku. First and foremost, we should remember Alfred Nobel, whose name is given to the longest and most beautiful street of Baku. Moreover, the grateful Baku residents also preserved the building of Nobel brothers’ office - Villa Petrolea. In this regard, we recall the speech by the President of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) Terry Adams at the opening of his office, located in Bayil, Baku’s old oil field area, on August 24 1996.

“We named our office – Villa Petrolea II,” - he said – which testifies that traditions of Azerbaijan`s oil industry have a long history. The former Villa Petrolea, which belonged to Nobel family, is in the wonderful park of the Black city. Today, achievements of Nobel brothers and Azerbaijani engineers in the field of oil technology are still used around the world. By right, Baku is the capital of world`s oil industry. The Nobel`s family was adherent to enlightenment and always took care of Azerbaijanis and appreciated them. We hope AIOC will continue these traditions.”

During this ceremony, President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev said in his closing remarks: “One of the most beautiful buildings, where we gathered today, was handed over to AIOC. Mr. Terry Adams told me that they have already repaired the building, modernized, decorated with works of Azerbaijani artists and invited us for its opening. This building was named “Villa Petrolea II,” and they explained to me that before it was the name of the office of Nobel brothers. The work carried out by Nobel brothers in Azerbaijan`s oil industry was added a vivid page of our history and we still remember this. These works were launched late 19th century, now by the end of the 20th century, independent Azerbaijan Republic began to cooperate with the world`s biggest oil companies. Undoubtedly, the today`s works are repeatedly differ from those ones.”

Just then, in gathering, Heydar Aliyev said an intriguing phase, which became today a subject of our thoughts.

“May be I don`t know, - he said thoughtfully, - but I can not remember the names of Baku oil specialists, who were awarded with Nobel prize…”

President was not cunning. Everybody, who worked with him, knew well that he has always thoroughly and deeply penetrated into the essence of any event, where he was going to attend. It is real that no matter how much we tried we could not find the names of “pure oil workers” in the list of the Nobel Prize winners. All three had indirect relation to oil industry despite that the Nobel Brothers Company founded by Ludvig Nobel definitely mentioned: “to award for the best invention or studies in metallurgy and oil industry… or for remarkable inventions or improvements in technology of these productions.”

The awarding is scheduled to be held every five years. The first laureates became Russians, A.Stepanov for “Fundamentals of lamp theory” (kerosene lamps); V. Baskakov for solving the problem of “complete oil combustion without pulverization”; A.Nikiforov for method of secretion of aromatic hydrocarbons from oil. And only in five years, in 1909, when Ludvig Emmanuel Nobel instituted annual prize for works in production and refining of oilfields or for associated sciences, such as geology, Baku petrochemist Victor Herr became the first Nobel Prize winner.

Unfortunately, this prize was completely forgotten. In accordance with the historical realities, the first high technologies, which inspired Nobels were the oil industry. When incomes from rapidly developing oil production became huge they let Nobel Foundation support other spheres of science – physics, chemistry, medicine and physiology, literature, peace and at last, economy. By the way, the last prize for achievements in economy has been recently appeared due to the State Bank of Sweden in 1968. As for the works on production and refining of oil technology, they have been forgotten. The high technologies applied in the oil industry gave an impetus to development of all planetary science.

During the second half of the 20th century, the oil industry approached to the perfection as a result of revolutionary, scientific and engineering-technical transformations. The fundamental researches were published, the latest methods of oil production, inclined drilling, technology of developing of hydrocarbon resources on inconceivable sea areas were elaborated… All this was first elaborated and applied on natural oil and gas-bearing areas of Azerbaijan and on shelf of the Caspian Sea adjacent to Baku. “Oil Rocks” industrial settlement, which lies 100 km away from Baku, was built in the open sea on piles in the 50s. The domestic floating drilling unit was created and plunged into the sea in the 70s. Besides, we must remember that a victory over fascism will hardly be possible if we have no the developed oil refining branch, the prominent national scientists and specialists. Baku delivered more than 80% of fuel to the front. The world-known Azerbaijani scientist Yusif Mammadaliyev invented high-octane gasoline and popular “Molotov`s cocktail” during the hard wartimes.

On a huge role of the Baku fuel in victory over fascism, Marshal Zhukov, with his military stinginess, said: “The Baku oil workers gave the front and the country as much fuel as necessary to protect our motherland and beat the enemy.”

The other legendary marshal Rokossovsky in his letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan said: “The considerable success belongs to the Baku oil workers in every air strike, every raid of the Soviet tankers, and every victory over the German-fascist forces”.

The leaders of the belligerent countries – Roosevelt, Churchill, De Gaulle, Eden, Hitler, Mussolini and many others stressed the significance of Baku in the World War II time and again.

Thoughts on this occasion suggest the public of the country as well as the scientists of Azerbaijan Engineering Academy that it is time to fill the gap made by the Nobel Foundation on awarding prizes for achievements in oil industry. In our opinion, the Foundation lost sight of will of founders Ludvig and Emmanuel Nobels, who instituted prizes for works in production and refining of oil. It is necessary to recreate it, as the oil workers with their pioneer researches and concrete works demonstrated and continue to demonstrate that they deserve the gold laurel wreath of immortality bequeathed to the best people of planet by the great Nobel brothers.

Arif Pashayev

Academician, President of Azerbaijan Engineering Academy 

 

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