The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, and/or scientific advances.
Discover interesting trivia about them here!
1. The will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895.
2. The prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901.
3. The related Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was established by Sweden’s central bank in 1968.
4. Medals made before 1980 were struck in 23 carat gold, and later from 18 carat green gold plated with a 24 carat gold coating.
5. Between 1901 and 2015, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 573 times to 900 people and organizations.
6. With some receiving the Nobel Prize more than once, this makes a total of 870 individuals (822 men and 48 women) and 23 organizations.
7. The prize ceremonies take place annually in Stockholm, Sweden (with the exception of the peace prize, which is held in Oslo, Norway).
8. Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money that has been decided by the Nobel Foundation.
9. As of 2012, each prize was worth SEK8 million or about US$1.2 million, €0.93 million, or £0.6 million.
10. The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics.
11. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
12. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
13. The Swedish Academy grants the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded not by a Swedish organisation but by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
14. The prize is not awarded posthumously; however, if a person is awarded a prize and dies before receiving it, the prize may still be presented.
15. Though the average number of laureates per prize increased substantially during the 20th century, a prize may not be shared among more than three people.
16. Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of engineers.
17. He was a chemist, engineer, and inventor. In 1894, Nobel purchased the Bofors iron and steel mill, which he made into a major armaments manufacturer.
18. Nobel also invented ballistite.
19. Nobel amassed a fortune during his lifetime, with most of his wealth from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous.
20. In 1888, Nobel was astonished to read his own obituary, titled The merchant of death is dead, in a French newspaper.
21. As it was Alfred’s brother Ludvigwho had died, the obituary was eight years premature.
22. The article disconcerted Nobel and made him apprehensive about how he would be remembered. This inspired him to change his will.
23. On 10 December 1896, Alfred Nobel died in his villa in San Remo, Italy, from a cerebral haemorrhage. He was 63 years old.
24. Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. He composed the last over a year before he died, signing it at the Swedish–Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895.
25. To widespread astonishment, Nobel’s last will specified that his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.
26. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million SEK (c. US$186 million, €150 million in 2008), to establish the five Nobel Prizes.
27. Because of scepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that it was approved by the Storting in Norway.
28. The executors of Nobel’s will, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel’s fortune and organise the award of prizes.
29. The first prizes: The Nobel Committee’s Physics Prize shortlist cited Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays and Philipp Lenard’s work on cathode rays.
30. The Academy received 20 nominations, eleven of them for Jacobus van’t Hoff. Van’t Hoff was awarded the prize for his contributions in chemical thermodynamics.
31. The Swedish Academy chose the poet Sully Prudhomme for the first Nobel Prize in Literature
32. The first Physiology or Medicine Prize went to the German physiologist and microbiologist Emil von Behring. During the 1890s, von Behring developed an antitoxin to treat diphtheria, which until then was causing thousands of deaths each year.
33. The first Nobel Peace Prize went to the Swiss Jean Henri Dunant for his role in founding the International Red Cross Movement and initiating the Geneva Convention, and jointly given to French pacifist Frédéric Passy, founder of the Peace League and active with Dunant in the Alliance for Order and Civilization.
34. Laureates can’t speak off the cuff during the awards ceremony banquet, according to 2013 Nobelist Randy Schekman who won for his research into cellular transport.
35. Schekman says the text for that speech must be turned in to the Nobel Foundation more than 24 hours in advance to allow for translation into Swedish.
36. Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov paid $4.7 million to buy the gold Nobel medal awarded to biologist James Watson for his work deciphering DNA’s double helix, but he then gave the medal back to the laureate.
37. Usmanov said the medal should remain with the winner and that the monies he paid for it should go toward research.
38. The inscription on the Nobel Peace medal is- “Pro pace et fraternitate gentium,” which means – “For the peace and brotherhood of men.”
39. So far, 567 Nobel Prizes have been awarded between 1901 and 2014 to 889 Nobel Laureates ( 864 individuals and 25 organizations)
40. Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded since 1901. It was not awarded on 19 occasions: in 1914-1916, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939-1943, 1948, 1955-1956, 1966-1967 and 1972.
41. In 1938 and 1939, Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich forbade three laureates from Germany (Richard Kuhn, Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt, and Gerhard Domagk) from accepting their prizes. Each man was later able to receive the diploma and medal.
42. The award process is similar for all of the Nobel Prizes; the main difference is in who can make nominations for each of them.
43. Posthumous nominations can’t be made for Nobel Prizes. If during consideration, the nominee dies, his name is removed. But if a person dies after being announced as the winner, a posthumous award is given.
44. More than three people can’t share a Nobel Prize.
45. Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani child education activist, is the youngest person to achieve the Nobel at the age of 17.
46. The Curies (Marie and Pierre Curie) comprised a very successful ‘Nobel Prize family’.
47. Marie Curie herself was awarded two Nobel Prizes.
48. Marie Curie herself was awarded two Nobel Prizes. In 1903, she along with Pierre Curie was awarded half the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1911 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.