The Nobel Prize was set up when businessman and entrepreneur Alfred Nobel died and left the majority of his fortune to the establishment of prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. Read here to know more about the prestigious awards.
Alfred Nobel’s will stated that the prizes should be awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.”
Alfred Nobel was an inventor, entrepreneur, scientist, and businessman who also wrote poetry and drama. The Nobel Prizes, which he established in 1895 through his last will and testament, are a reflection of his wide-ranging interests.
- He is known for inventing dynamite and is a holder of 355 patents
The first Prizes were awarded in 1901 and they have been awarded annually since then.
- There have been years in that time when the Prizes have not been awarded - mostly during World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945).
The Nobel Day – which takes place on 10 December every year, marks the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death and is the day that the Nobel Prizes are presented to Nobel laureates.
The Nobel Foundation
The Nobel Foundation, a private institution established in 1900, has ultimate responsibility for fulfilling the intentions of Alfred Nobel’s will.
The main mission of the Nobel Foundation is to manage Alfred Nobel’s fortune in a manner that ensures a secure financial standing for the Nobel Prize over the long term
- They also ensure that the prize-awarding institutions are guaranteed independence in their work of selecting recipients.
- The Foundation is also tasked with strengthening the Prize’s position by administering and developing the brands and intangible assets that have been built up during the Nobel history, which spans more than 100 years.
- The Nobel Foundation also strives to safeguard the prize-awarding institutions’ common interests.
- In the past two decades, a number of outreach activities have been developed with the aim of inspiring and disseminating knowledge about the Prize.
What are the Nobel Prize categories?
The categories were laid out in the will of Alfred Nobel:
- physiology or medicine
In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
Why isn’t there a Nobel Prize in mathematics, engineering, biology, or environmental science?
The Nobel Prizes were designated in the will of Alfred Nobel and are in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.
The economics prize was established much later and is a memorial prize, as indicated by its full name: the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
Its addition was an exception, to celebrate the tercentenary of Sweden’s central bank in 1968.
Also read: LIGO-India
Some facts about the Nobel Prize
- Laureates receive a Nobel Prize diploma, a Nobel Prize medal, and a document detailing the Nobel Prize amount, which this year amounts to 10 million Swedish krona or about $900,000 in current exchange rates.
- The Prize can be shared by up to three individuals, or in the case of the peace prize, it can also be awarded to an organization.
- Nobel Prize cannot be awarded posthumously. However, since 1974, if the recipient dies after the prize has been announced they can still be awarded it.
- In his will, Alfred Nobel laid out who he wanted to be responsible for the selection of the Nobel laureates. The prizes were to be awarded by Swedish institutions – apart from the peace prize, whose award was to be decided by a committee of five persons elected by the Norwegian Parliament.
- It’s not possible to revoke a Nobel medal as it is mentioned in Alfred Nobel’s will or in the statutes of the Nobel Foundation.
- In order to become a Nobel Prize laureate, you must first be nominated for a prize by an eligible nominator. Self-nomination is not allowed.
- Except for the Nobel Peace Prize, the nomination is by invitation only and nominators must fulfill the criteria set out by the awarding institutions.
- Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Laureate who got the Peace Prize in 2014 at the age of just 17 years.
- John B. Goodenough is the oldest recipient of this prize in Chemistry 2019 at the age of 97 years.
- Marie Curie is the only woman who has been honored twice, with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Prize in Chemistry.
Who selects the Nobel Prize laureates?
In his last will and testament, Alfred Nobel specifically designated the institutions responsible for the prizes he wished to be established:
- The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry
- Karolinska Institutet for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- The Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature
- A Committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was given the task to select Laureates in Economic Sciences starting in 1969.
Indian Nobel Laureates
Among the recipients till now, 12 are Indians (five Indian citizens and seven of Indian ancestry or residency).
- Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian citizen to be awarded and also the first Asian to be awarded in 1913.
- Mother Teresa is the only woman on the list of recipients.
Following are the Nobel laureates from India (British India and Independent India):
Physiology or Medicine
Work on malaria
Raman scattering effect
Har Gobind Khorana
Physiology or Medicine
Genetic code and protein synthesis
Helping suffering humanity
Studies on the evolution of stars
Amartya Kumar Sen
Structure and function of ribosomes
Alleviating global poverty
India also has had many nominees:
- Meghnad Saha for Saha ionization equation (physics)
- Homi Jehangir Bhabha for his discovery of the cascade process of cosmic radiation and Bhabha Scattering in quantum electrodynamics (physics)
- Satyendra Nath Bose for Bose statistics and Bose condensate (physics)
- N Ramachandran for developing the Ramachandran plot for understanding peptide structure (chemistry)
- R. Sheshadri for his research on oxygen heterocyclic compounds (chemistry)
- Rabindranath Datta (literature)
- Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (literature)
- Sri Aurobindo Ghose
Mahatma Gandhi was nominated unsuccessfully for the Peace Prize five times.
Nobel prize winners 2022
Physiology or medicine: Dr. Svante Pääbo, a Swedish geneticist, won for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.
Physics: Shared by three men, Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger, for their work in quantum technology.
Chemistry: Carolyn R. Bertozzi Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharplessn for the development of click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry.
Literature: Annie Ernaux, a French novelist
Peace: Ales Bialiatski, a jailed Belarusian activist; Memorial, a Russian organization; and the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine.
Nobel prize winners 2023
Physiology or medicine: Dr. Katalin Karikó and Dr. Drew Wiesmann for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
Physics: Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter
Chemistry: Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus, and Aleksey Yekimov for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.
Literature: Jon Fosse, for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.
Peace: Narges Mohammadi for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.
Economic Sciences: Claudia Goldin for having advanced our understanding of women’s labor market outcomes.
-Article written by Swathi Satish