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Gustav Dalen

A good part of our “technological world” passes every day unnoticed, either by the force of habit, or because there are so many technologies that we take for granted. Many everyday technological developments were at one time engineering triumphs, and before that, the science or dream of a visionary.

One of the greatest awards for a technological advance is the Nobel prize. The history books say that the Swedish Alfred Nobel, was tormented by his fortune amassed in the industry arms of dynamite (of which he was the inventor) and wanted to remove the awards that bore his name. According to his testament :

“The totality of what that remains of my fortune be disposed of as follows : capital, invested in securities insurance by my executors , shall constitute one fund whose interest will be distributed each year in the form of prizes among those who during the year preceding have made the greater benefit to mankind. These interests are divided into five parts equal, which will be distributed in the following way: one part to the person who has made the discovery or invention more important within the field of physics; one part to the person which has made the discovery or improvement more important in the chemistry ; one part to the person who has made the discovery more important in the field of physiology and medicine ; one part to the person who has produced the work most outstanding of trend idealist in the field of literature , and one part to the person who has worked more or better in favor of fraternity between the nations , the abolition or reduction of armies existing and celebration and promotion of processes of peace . the awards for the physics and chemistry will be awarded by the Academy Swedish of the Sciences , that of physiology and medicine will be awarded by the Institute Karolinska of Stockholm ; that of literature , by the Academy of Stockholm , and the advocates of peace , by one committee formed by five people elected by the Storting ( Parliament ) Norwegian . It is my express wish that , by granting these awards , not be in consideration the nationality of the candidates , but they are the most deserving those who receive the prize , whether Scandinavian or not. “

It is since then very complicated the role of the different institutions responsible for choosing the winners based on their contribution to the benefit of humanity, and more when those contributions can not be neither obvious nor immediate.

For example, the prize Nobel of Physics has moved always between the extremes reflected in the will of Alfred : discoveries and inventions. The award has been split between work of theorists such as Van der Waals or effect Photoelectric of Einstein and others with more practical work such as the instruments optical of Michelson or telegraphy by Marconi and Braun. Today we’ll talk about an unknown Gustaf Dalen.
The prize awarded to Gustaf Dalen in 1912 may be one of the most curious of all the history of the award. It could favor him his nationality was Swedish and also the fact of that during that same year lost sight in a serious accident during a test with acetylene, a very dangerous explosive substance. What you do not put in doubt is that he contributed to saving lives and therefore the benefit of humanity .

He born in a farm and supported by his mother her was able to study. He constantly invented things.

The main achievement of Gustaf came from for his work with acetylene. Capable of producing the lights in headlights. Developing one new porous materials, improving the safety of the storage of acetylene and discovered the way in which the flame of acetylene works.

In addition it incorporated one valve solar, which was at the tune the only lamp to work during the night. An invention that the own Edison doubted that would work and that required a demonstration to the patents office . With all this work he managed to reduce the consumption of the lamp by 94%.


The “Dalen Light”, is thus named in honor of its inventor. It increased the efficiency of the headlights, not depending on the then little reliable supply electricity. With this technology, headlamps immediately illuminated Sweden and the channel of Panama till the 1960’s. Even in 1980 an electrified lighthouse Blockhusudden was discovered which a valve that had been running continuously since 1912 without one single revision!

In spite of his accident Dalen continued his work until his death in 1937. He was an active participant in public life and policy of his country was a member of the Royal Academy Swedish of Sciences and of Science and Engineering .

Refs and photos:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Gustaf_Dal % C3 % A9n


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