The Nobel Prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards given for intellectual achievements in the world. Though the prizes are well respected, a rich tangle of lore has grown around them.
Alfred Nobel was many talents rolled in one as he worked as chemist, engineer, inventor and industrialist. He amassed a fortune during his lifetime, with most of his wealth from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous. Nobel had a keen interest in physics, chemistry, medicine, and literature, four of the five original prize disciplines. And, he carried his rationale for each prize category into the grave.
Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. It goes that in 1888, Nobel was astonished to read his own obituary, titled ‘The merchant of death is dead,’ in a French newspaper. The obituary was eight years premature. The article disconcerted Nobel and made him apprehensive about how he would be remembered.
On November 27, 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will. When it was opened and read after his death, the will caused controversy both in Sweden and internationally, as Nobel had bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million Swedish kroner, 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 humankind.” It was years later that executors of his will, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of his fortune and organise the award of prizes. On December 10, 1901, the Nobel Prizes were awarded for the first time.
908 Laureates and 27 organisations have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2018. A small number of individuals and organisations have been honoured more than once. The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honoured by Nobel Peace Prize three times. The Curies (Marie and Pierre Curie) comprised a very successful ‘Nobel Prize family’. Marie Curie herself was awarded two Nobel Prizes. In 1903, she along with Pierre Curie was awarded half the Nobel Prize in Physics. Marie and Pierre’s daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, was awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, sharing it with her husband, Frederic Joliot.
The Nobel Prizes for Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Economics are awarded at a ceremony in Stockholm, where the King of Sweden hands over the Prize to the laureate/s. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded at a different ceremony in Oslo.
At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death, the Nobel Laureates receive a diploma, a Medal and a document confirming the prize amount. Each Nobel diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The Nobel Medals are handmade with careful precision and in 18 carat recycled gold. Prize winners are called laureates, after the Greek laurel wreath given to champions in ancient times.
The Nobel medal features the image of Alfred Nobel on the face. The main inscription on one side of the medal for Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Literature Nobel Prizes reads: ‘Inventasvitamjuvatexcoluisse per artes,’ which in loose translation means, ‘And they who bettered life on earth by new found mastery.’ The inscription on the Nobel Peace medal is - “Pro pace et fraternitategentium,” which means - “For the peace and brotherhood of men.”
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Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani child education activist, is the youngest person to win the Nobel Prize at the age of 17. Who is the oldest ever Nobel laureate?
Arthur Ashkin (2018 Nobel Prize for Physics at 96).
What is common to Carl von Ossietzky, Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo in the history of Nobel Prize?
Nobel Peace Prize Laureates under arrest at the time of the award.
Till now, two Nobel laureates have voluntarily declined to accept Nobel Prize. One of them is Le DucTho who was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Who is the other?
Jean-Paul Sartre who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature.
From 1974, the statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that a prize cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize. What was the controversy regarding Ralph Steinman, the 2011 Nobel Prize winner?
Steinman died several days before he was named winner, which was unbeknownst to the Nobel Assembly. The Foundation decided not to rescind his Nobel.
How is SverigesRiksbank Prize connected to the Nobel Prize?
SverigesRiksbank Prize in Economic Sciences was established in 1968 by the Bank of Sweden, in memory of Alfred Nobel. Although not technically a Nobel Prize, its winners are announced with the Nobel Prize recipients, and awarded at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.
George H W Bush was the second president to be the father of another US president. Who was the first?
Which well-known soap opera, centred on a fictional town based on inner-city Salford, had its first episode aired this day (December 9) in 1960?
Coronation Street. On September 17, 2010, it became the world’s longest-running television soap opera and was listed in Guinness World Records.
On the national flag of which country would you find a blue celestial globe with 27 white five-pointed stars spanned by the white equatorial curved band?
What is Anuptaphobia?
Fear of being or staying single.
Which brand of car will have the below logo?
(Answer next week. Answer to last week’s photo-quiz: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy of ‘Laurel and Hardy’ fame.)
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