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All about Nobel Prize

This topic provides information about the Nobel Prize.

Initiation of Nobel prize

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune - more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,702 million) to be converted into a fund and invested in "safe securities." The income from the investments was to be "distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind." The first Nobel prize was awarded in 1901.

Prize categories

The Nobel Prizes were initially given in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies

The Nobel Laureates are announced at the beginning of October each year. A couple of months later, on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death, they receive their prizes from the Swedish King – a Nobel diploma, a medal, and 10 million Swedish crowns per prize. All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. (When Alfred Nobel was alive, Norway and Sweden were united under one monarch, until 1905 when Norway became an independent kingdom with its own king.)

The Nobel Prize Insignias

At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies on 10 December the Nobel Laureates receive three things:

  • a Nobel Diploma - Each Nobel Diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers.
  • a Nobel Medal -  The Nobel Medals are handmade with careful precision and in 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold. The Nobel Medals in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are identical on the face: it shows the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833-1896). Nobel's portrait also appears on the Nobel Peace Prize Medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economic Sciences, but with a slightly different design. The image on the reverse varies according to the institution awarding the prize.
  • A document confirming the Nobel Prize amount - The Nobel Prize amount for 2016 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 8.0 million per full Nobel Prize.

Why are the individuals and organisations awarded a Nobel Prize called Nobel Laureates?

The word "Laureate" refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. A laurel wreath is a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel (in Latin: Laurus nobilis). In Ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour - both in athletic competitions and in poetic meets.

Facts about Nobel Laureates

  • Between 1901 and 2017, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 585 times.
  • 896 Laureates and 27 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2017. Of them, 79 are Laureates in Economic Sciences. A small number of individuals and organizations have been honoured more than once, which means that 892 individuals and 24 unique organizations have received the Nobel Prize in total.
  • Since the start, in 1901, there are some years when the Nobel Prizes have not been awarded. The total number of times are 49. Most of them during World War I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945).
  • The most common fields for Physics Laureates is particle physics, for Chemistry Laureates it is biochemistry, for Medicine Laureates it is genetics and for Laureates in Economic Sciences it is macroeconomics. Most of the Literature Laureates write prose.
  • The average age of all Nobel Laureates in all prize categories between 1901 and 2017 is 60 years. The youngest Nobel laureate is Ms Malala Yousafzai who was awarded the Peace Prize 2014 when she was 17 years old. The oldest Noble laureate is Leonid Hurwicz who was awarded the Prize in Economic Sciences in 2007 when he was 90 years old.
  • Between 1901 and 2017 the Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded 49 times to women.
  • The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honoured by a Nobel Peace Prize three times.
  • Linus Pauling is the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes - the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The Curies were a very successful ‘Nobel Prize family’. Marie Curie herself was awarded two Nobel Prizes.

To get the list of Nobel laureates, click here.

Source : Website of Nobel Prizes

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