Things to know about the Nobel Prizes

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Fall has arrived in Scandinavia, which implies Nobel Prize season is right here.

The beginning of October is when the Nobel committees get collectively in Stockholm and Oslo to announce the winners of the yearly awards.

First up, as traditional, is the Nobel Prize in medication or physiology, which will likely be introduced Monday by a panel of judges on the Karolinska Institute within the Swedish capital. The prizes in physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics will observe, with one announcement each weekday till Oct. 9.

Listed here are some issues to know concerning the Nobel Prizes:


The Nobel Prizes have been created by Alfred Nobel, a Nineteenth-century businessman and chemist from Sweden. He held greater than 300 patents however his declare to fame earlier than the Nobel Prizes was having invented dynamite by mixing nitroglycerine with a compound that made the explosive extra secure.

Dynamite quickly grew to become common in development and mining in addition to within the weapons business. It made Nobel a really wealthy man. Maybe it additionally made him take into consideration his legacy, as a result of towards the top of his life he determined to make use of his huge fortune to fund annual prizes “to those that, through the previous 12 months, have conferred the best profit to humankind.”

The primary Nobel Prizes have been introduced in 1901, 5 years after his loss of life. In 1968, a sixth prize was created, for economics, by Sweden’s central financial institution. Although Nobel purists stress that the economics prize is technically not a Nobel Prize, it’s all the time introduced along with the others.


For causes that aren’t totally clear, Nobel determined that the peace prize ought to be awarded in Norway and the opposite prizes in Sweden. Nobel historians suspect Sweden’s historical past of militarism might have been an element.

Throughout Nobel’s lifetime, Sweden and Norway have been in a union, which the Norwegians reluctantly joined after the Swedes invaded their nation in 1814. It’s doable that Nobel thought Norway can be a extra appropriate location for a prize meant to encourage “fellowship amongst nations.”

To at the present time, the Nobel Peace Prize is a totally Norwegian affair, with the winners chosen and introduced by a Norwegian committee. The peace prize even has its personal ceremony within the Norwegian capital of Oslo on Dec. 10 — the anniversary of Nobel’s loss of life — whereas the opposite prizes are introduced in Stockholm.


The Nobel Prizes undertaking an aura of being above the political fray, centered solely on the good thing about humanity. However the peace and literature awards, particularly, are generally accused of being politicized. Critics query whether or not winners are chosen as a result of their work is really excellent or as a result of it aligns with the political preferences of the judges.

The scrutiny can get intense for high-profile awards, akin to in 2009, when President Barack Obama gained the peace prize lower than a 12 months after taking workplace.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is an impartial physique that insists its solely mission is to hold out the desire of Alfred Nobel. Nonetheless, it does have hyperlinks to Norway’s political system. The 5 members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, so the panel’s composition displays the ability stability within the legislature.

To keep away from the notion that the prizes are influenced by Norway’s political leaders, sitting members of the Norwegian authorities or Parliament are barred from serving on the committee. Even so, the panel is not all the time considered as impartial by overseas nations. When imprisoned Chinese language dissident Liu Xiaobo gained the peace prize in 2010, Beijing responded by freezing commerce talks with Norway. It took years for Norway-China relations to be restored.


One purpose the prizes are so well-known is they arrive with a beneficiant amount of money. The Nobel Basis, which administers the awards, raised the prize cash by 10% this 12 months to 11 million kronor (about $1 million). Along with the cash, the winners obtain an 18-carat gold medal and diploma once they accumulate their Nobel Prizes on the award ceremonies in December.

Most winners are proud and humbled by becoming a member of the pantheon of Nobel laureates, from Albert Einstein to Mom Teresa. However two winners refused their Nobel Prizes: French author Jean-Paul Sartre, who turned down the literature prize in 1964, and Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho, who declined the peace prize that he was meant to share with U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger in 1973.

A number of others weren’t in a position to obtain their awards as a result of they have been imprisoned, akin to Belarusian pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski, who shared final 12 months’s peace prize with human rights teams in Ukraine and Russia.


Traditionally, the overwhelming majority of Nobel Prize winners have been white males. Although that’s began to alter, there’s nonetheless little variety amongst Nobel winners, notably within the science classes.

To this point, 60 ladies have gained Nobel Prizes, together with 25 within the scientific classes. Solely 4 ladies have gained the Nobel Prize in physics and simply two have gained the economics prize.

Within the early days of the Nobel Prizes, the dearth of variety amongst winners may very well be defined by the dearth of variety amongst scientists on the whole. However at the moment critics say the judges have to do a greater job at highlighting discoveries made by ladies and scientists exterior Europe and North America.

The prize committees say their choices are primarily based on scientific benefit, not gender, nationality or race. Nonetheless, they aren’t deaf to the criticism. 5 years in the past, the top of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated it had began to ask nominating our bodies to ensure they don’t overlook “ladies or folks of different ethnicities or nationalities of their nominations.”

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