Nobel Prize

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What is Nobel Prize?

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The will or the testament of the Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist Alfred Nobel established the five Nobel prizes in 1895.

The prizes in ChemistryLiteraturePeacePhysics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901. The prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards available in their respective fields.

Who was Alfred Nobel?

Alfred Bernhard Nobel, Swedish,(21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish businessman, chemist, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist. He held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him. He owned Bofors, which he redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments.

But how an inventor of Dynamite, can be so mellow inside?

So, there is a story behind this unanticipated change of mind.“In 1888, Alfred’s brother, Ludvig, died while visiting Cannes, and a French newspaper mistakenly published Alfred’s obituary. It condemned him for his invention of military explosives (not, as is commonly quoted, dynamite, which was mainly used for civilian applications) and is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated, Le Marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead“) and went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday”.Alfred (who never had a wife or children) was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered”

Having read a premature obituary which condemned him for profiting from the sales of arms, he bequeathed his fortune to institute the Nobel Prize.

Let’s check out some facts related to Nobel Prize:

  • Nobel Prize is an annual international prize presented by the Norwegian institution in the categories including Peace, Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Economics.
  • This was established by Alfred Nobel.
  • In his possession, he announced to give away a series of prizes in the field of Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Peace.
  • The prize for economics was added by The Sveriges Riksbank (Swedish Central Bank) and is known as The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in economics Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel.
  • The prizes ceremony held annually in Stockholm, Sweden but The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway.
  • Each recipient, or laureate, gets a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money that has been decided by the Nobel Foundation.
  • 49 number of times it has not been awarded.
  • Not more than 3 laureates and 2 different works may be selected per award.
  • All the awards have been presented to individuals and only peace prize can be given to individuals as well as to institutions.

Some Special Facts related to it:

  • The First Nobel Prize was announced and awarded in 1901.
  • Awards are presented on the 10th of December, the death anniversary of Alfred Nobel.
  • Henry Durant the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) was the first recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 1901.
  • ICRC received the most number of Nobel Prize – 3 times.
  • Linus Pauling is the only Nobel Laureate with 2 unshared Nobel Prizes one in 1954(chemistry) and in 1962(Peace).
  • No Nobel Prize was given in 1940, 1941, and 1942.

As it is known that every category of it is awarded by a specific committee.

Which committee awards what?

  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards in the field of Physics, Chemistry, and Economics.
  • The Karolinska Institute awards the Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize.

Now let’s look at the winners of Nobel Prizes till now.

The Couple Laureates:

  • In Physiology or Medicines:
    • Gerty Cori and Carl Cori in 1947
    • May-Britt Moser and Edward I. Moser in 2014
  • In Physics:    
    • Marie Curie and Pierre Curie (1903)  
  • In Economics:   
    • Abhijit Banerjee And Esther Duflo (2019)
  • In Chemistry: 
    • Irene Joliot-Curie and Frederic Joliot(1935)
  • In different fields:
    • Gunnar Myrdal(In Economics in 1974) and Alva Myrdal(Peace prize in 1982)

Father and Son Laureates:

  • Hans Von Euler- Cheplin (Chemistry) and Ulf  Von Euler(Medicine)
  • Arthur Kornberg (Medicine) and Roger D. Cornberg (Chemistry)
  • William Bragg and Lawrence Bragg,1915(both in Physics)
  • Niels Bohr and Aage N.Bohr, in 1975 (both in Physics)
  • Manne Siebagn (1924) and Kai M. Siebagn(1981)(both in Physics)
  • J.J.Thompson (1906) and G.P. Thomson(1937)(both in Physics)

Brothers Laureate:

Jan Tinbergen(Economics in 1974) and Nikolas Tinbergen(Medicine in 1973)

Posthumous Nobel Laureates:

  • Erik Axle Karlfeldt – Literature (1931)
  • Dag Hammarskjold –Peace( 1961)

Nominated But not given:

  • Joseph Stalin, Mahatma Gandhi, and Adolf Hitler were most renowned.

Gandhiji” was nominated for 5 times in the year 1937,1938,1939,1947 and in January of 1948 just before his assassination, then why not he was awarded?

List of the Youngest winners:

CategoryNameYear of AwardAge
PhysicsWilliam Lawrence Bragg191525
ChemistryFrederic Joliot193535
Physiology or MedicineFrederick Banting192332
LiteratureRudyard Kipling190741
PeaceMalala Yousafzai201417
Economic ScienceEsther Duflo201946

List of Oldest winners:

CategoryNameYear of AwardAge
PhysicsArthur Askhin201896
ChemistryJohn B. Goodenough201997
Physiology or MedicinePeyton Rous196687
LiteratureDoris Lessing200788
PeaceJoseph Rotblat199587
Economic ScienceLeonid Hurwicz200790

Nobel Laureates under arrest at the time of the award:

  • German pacifist and journalist : Carl Von Ossietzky
  • Burmese Politician : Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Chinese human rights activist: Liu Xiaobo

Multiple Nobel Laureates:

  • J.Bardeen – in Physics (1956 & 1972)
  • Marie Curie – in Physics (1903) & in Chemistry (1911)
  • F. Sanger – in Chemistry (1958 &1980)
  • ICRC – for Peace (1917,1944,1963)
  • UNHCR – for Peace (1954 & 1981)

Two Nobel Laureates who declined prize:

  • Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964 in literature as he consistently declined all official honors.
  • Le Duc Tho, he was jointly awarded the prize with the US secretary of state Henry Kissinger for negotiating the Vietnam Peace accord but refused to accept citing the situation in Vietnam.

Forced to Decline the Prize:

  • Adolf Hitler forbade Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt and Gerhard Domagk to accept the Nobel prize.
  • Boris Pasternak in 1958 initially accepted the prize then forced by authorities of the et union, his native country to decline the Nobel prize.

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