All you need to know about Nobel Prize

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The History


Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament on November 27, 1895, giving a major share of his fortunes to prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology (medicine), literature and peace. They were called the ‘Nobel Prizes’. As years rolled by, in 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences. The award was given in memory of Alfred Nobel. The Nobel Peace Prize is given to a person for building fraternity between nations, promoting peace. The first ever peace prize was won by Henry Dunant(Red Cross) and Frédéric Passy, in the year 1901.

Alfred Nobel was basically a Swedish chemist, engineer, and industrialist. He invented dynamite. Born in Stockholm, Sweden on October 21, 1833, he was fluent in several languages. Alfred Nobel was very interested in poetry and drama as well. He had radical views on peace related issues. He died eventually in 1896. The first Nobel Prize ever was given on December 10, 1901. Ever since then 609 Nobel Prizes have been awarded between 1901-2021.

Nobel Prize laureates

Between 1901 and 2021, 947 laureates and 28 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Out of this 89 are economic sciences laureates. Only a very few organizations have been honored with the Nobel Prize more than once. This means 943 unique individuals and 25 unique organizations have won the prestigious prize in this time period. 

There were a few instances (years) in history, when the Nobel Prize was not awarded. Exactly 49 times. The prize distribution was mainly disrupted during world war I (1914-1918) and world war II (1939-1945).

Nobel Prizes to Women

58 women have won the prestigious award since 1901. Marie Curie is the first woman in history to win the Nobel Prize. She is the only woman to win it twice. Marie Curie won her first Nobel Prize in the year 1903 for her research of radiation phenomena (physics). She had set up several radiology units during world war I for helping doctors treat injured soldiers. Her groundbreaking work in the field of radiation led to new cancer treatments. 

Laureates who declined the prize

In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre, who won the Nobel Prize in literature, declined the prize. He had constantly declined all official honors in his life. In another instance, Le Duc Tho, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Henry Kissinger in 1973, declined the award. The prize was for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. But Le Duc Tho declined the prize, citing the situation in Vietnam. 

Four winners were forced to decline the award by the authorities. This includes three German Nobel Laureates, Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt, and Gerhard Domagk. In 1958, Boris Pasternak, Nobel Laureate in Literature was forced to decline the award by the authorities of the Soviet Union. 

Notably, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates were under arrest when they were supposed to receive the award. They are German journalist Carl von Ossietzky, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. 

Multiple Nobel Prize Laureates

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRS) has been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize thrice, for their exemplary work.

The only person to be awarded two unshared nobel prizes is Linus Pauling. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and in 1962 he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Posthumous Nobel Prizes

In 1974, it was decided that the Nobel Prize cannot be awarded posthumously. Before that it was posthumously awarded twice, to Dag Hammarskjöld (1961) and  Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1931).

In 2011, it was discovered that medicine laureate Ralph Stienman had passed away three days prior to the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet had announced the award without knowing about his death. The Board of the Nobel Foundation after reviewing the entire situation, finally decided to go ahead with the award!

The curies were an example for a successful ‘Nobel Prize Family’. A total of four Nobel prizes were won by Marie, Pierre and Irène Curie. It is the highest number of Nobel Prizes won by a single family.

The Award Ceremonies

The Award Ceremonies

The Nobel Prizes were awarded for the first time in Stockholm and in Oslo (Christiana) respectively. 

Between 1901-1925, the award ceremony took place at the Old Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. From 1926, the ceremony was mostly held at the Stockholm Concert Hall. It is the King of Sweden who hands over the prize to the laureates. 

Between 1901-1904, in Norway, the decision on the peace prize was announced at a meeting of the Storting on December 10. The recipients were later on informed in writing. Between 1905-1946, the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremonies were held at the Nobel Institute Building. From 1947-1989, it was held at the University of Oslo. Since 1990, the award ceremony has been held at the Oslo City Hall. Even though the King of Norway will be present in the award ceremony, it is the Chairman of the Nobel Committee who will hand over the prize to the laureates. 

Nobel Prize 2022

The Nobel Prizes for the year 2022 will be announced between October 3rd – October 10th. The Nobel Foundation will invite the winners to the Nobel Week in Stockholm in December. The major attractions are the prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall and a banquet at the Stockholm City Hall. 

The Nobel Peace Prize 2022 will be declared on October 7th by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo.

Nobel Prize insignias

The ‘Nobel Prize’ consists of a Nobel Prize Diploma, a medal and a document specifying the prize amount. The diploma is a splendid work of art created by talented Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. Nobel Prize medals are handmade. They are made of 18 carat recycled gold. 

Nobel Prize medals in physics, chemistry, literature and physiology /medicine will have the image of Alfred Nobel. The year of his birth and death will also be inscribed

The medals for Nobel Peace Prize and for prize in economic studies will have the Nobel’s portrait on them. 

Alfred Nobel pledged his wealth to sponsor the Nobel prizes. The Nobel Prize amount for the year 2022 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK). A whopping 10 Million SEK will be paid to each Nobel Prize winner.

God Apollo is represented in Greek mythology wearing a laurel wreath. It is a circular crown made of branches and leaves. In those days, laurel wreaths were awarded to winners as a sign of honor in athletic competitions and poetic meets. 

As we all know, the Nobel Prize is one among the most coveted awards on the planet. So a big shout out to this year’s winners!! ..

Check your knowledge

   Answer) Alfred Nobel

      Answer) Stockholm Concert Hall

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