Nobel Prize

Summary

The Nobel Prize is an award that has been presented annually since 1901 and was established by the Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833-1896). In his will, he stipulated that his fortune should be used to establish a foundation, the interest from which would be “allocated as a prize to those who have been of the greatest benefit to mankind in the past year.” The money was to be distributed in five equal parts to the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and for peace efforts. The Nobel Foundation was established on June 29, 1900, four years after Alfred Nobel”s death, and the first prizes were awarded in 1901. Today, the Nobel Prize is considered the highest honor in the disciplines considered and is awarded each year on the anniversary of Nobel”s death, December 10. The Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Oslo, all other prizes in Stockholm.

Since 1968, there has also been the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, endowed by the Swedish National Bank. It is awarded jointly with the Nobel Prizes, carries the same prize money and is subject to similar award criteria. As a result, it is often referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics and perceived as a Nobel Prize like the others.

Alfred Nobel wrote several wills, the last one on November 27, 1895, which he signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris.

In it, he makes grants from his 31 million Swedish kronor fortune to numerous relatives and other people in his circle, for example as a lifelong pension. For the remainder of his fortune, about 94 percent of the total value, he decreed the establishment of a prize for the categories of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature. In addition, an award was to be given annually to someone who had made a special contribution to the fraternization of peoples, the abolition or reduction of armies, and peace.

Motivation and inspiration for the foundation of the award

The will itself does not explain why Alfred Nobel wanted such a prize to be established. There are also few other direct statements from him about the prize. According to witnesses at the signing of the will, Nobel is said to have said that he wanted to reward scientists because they often faced economic headwinds.

Nobel once said

His decision to use his fortune for foundation purposes had apparently matured in him over a longer period of time. In contrast, it is often claimed that Alfred Nobel donated the prize because of a guilty conscience, because his inventions were used for war and he was the owner of armaments companies. However, this is contradicted by the fact that, with the exception of Ballistit, none of Nobel”s developments were used in war during his lifetime. In this context, the story is often cited that in 1888, long before Alfred Nobel”s death, a French newspaper published an obituary of him entitled “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (“The merchant of death is dead”), which described Nobel as a man “who became rich by finding methods of killing more people faster than ever before.” In fact, however, Alfred Nobel”s brother Ludvig Nobel had died, and the newspaper had confused him. Alfred Nobel is said to have been horrified by the characterization of him. To what extent the endowment of the prize was promoted by this is not exactly known, since there are also other statements by him.

To Bertha von Suttner, who was to become one of the first recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, he commented:

He represented this position several more times. In this respect, Bertha von Suttner”s attempts to win him over for peace work were successful because he became a member of the Austrian Peace Association and donated money for peace purposes. He even hired the Turkish diplomat Aristarchi Bey as an assistant for a few years in order to be informed by him on peace issues. From this point of view, too, it is not surprising that he wanted to give part of the prize to peace efforts.

Extract from the will

The original Swedish text with translation of the crucial portion of the will reads:

This is the only written statement by Nobel himself about the prize. Neither about his motivation to endow the prize nor about the many organizational details necessary to award the prize are there any further statements.

Therefore, the design of the prize was largely left to the executors of the estate, today in the form of the Nobel Foundation.

Reactions

At the beginning, Alfred Nobel”s decision was by no means uncontroversial. His relatives questioned the will, and the public also criticized the idea of the prize. Criticism also came from the then King Oskar II. For one thing, he felt that such a large amount of money should not be given to foreigners, so he did not like the explicit provision not to give preference to Scandinavians. For another, the awarding of the Peace Prize by a Norwegian institution was generally a sensitive issue, as the later dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian Union was already looming.

In some cases, great importance was attached to the prize at an early stage. On January 2, 1897, Nobel”s will became known, and already on January 4, the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet wrote:

The will was recognized by Nobel”s heirs on June 5, 1898, enabling the establishment of the Nobel Foundation in 1900.

Choice of categories

It is not known why Nobel settled on the above five categories in his will.

There is no Nobel Prize for economics, for example, even though the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics is usually referred to as such. As a natural scientist, Nobel was no friend of the “soft humanities.” Instead, with the prizes for medicine, chemistry and physics, he concentrated on subject areas whose achievements could be objectified. His dislike of economics is reflected in a letter published by four of his brother Ludvig”s great-grandchildren in 2001. In it, Alfred Nobel writes, “I have no education in economics and hate it with all my heart.” Accordingly, Nobel”s descendants urged the Swedish Academy of Sciences to treat the “Prize for Economic Sciences of the Swedish National Bank in Memory of Alfred Nobel,” which was only subsequently endowed by the Swedish National Bank in 1968, separately from the Nobel Prizes, to date without success.

Likewise, there is no Nobel Prize for mathematics (see the Comparable Prizes section below). The reasons can only be speculated. It has been seen as a possible cause that Nobel, a practitioner, never particularly liked this “auxiliary science”; for him, it probably did not belong to the categories that advance humanity. One anecdote says that Alfred Nobel was once rejected by his admirer in favor of a mathematics professor – there is some talk of Magnus Gösta Mittag-Leffler – and in bitterness Nobel subsequently deleted a planned prize for mathematics from his will. However, there is no historical evidence for this. It is similar with the assertion that Alfred Nobel was allegedly cheated on by his wife with a mathematician. This cannot be true, however, if only because he was never married. A later offer of the Nobel Committee to establish a Nobel Prize for mathematics was rejected by leading mathematicians, probably in order not to increase the competition among scientists.

His commitment to literature and peace, both areas apart from the exact sciences, probably goes back to a suggestion by his longtime pen pal, peace activist and pacifist Bertha von Suttner.

Second award location Oslo

It is not known what reasons led the Swede Alfred Nobel to assign the task of selecting the Nobel Peace Prize winner to a committee of the Norwegian Parliament (Storting). At the time of the prize”s endowment, Norway and Sweden were still linked in a personal union under Swedish leadership, and foreign policy rested with the Swedish Parliament. In 1905, the union dissolved and Norway became an independent kingdom.

As the central institution for the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Foundation was established by the executors of the will, Rudolf Lilljequist and Ragnar Sohlman (Nobel”s last assistant). The establishment of the Foundation was not without difficulties. For example, the will was unclear on some points, which caused legal problems. The preparations for the establishment of the foundation took a total of five years. Above all, Sohlman had the task of selling Nobel”s company shares and other possessions. Nobel had registered 355 patents and established 100 factories in 20 countries at the time of his death. The foundation”s assets eventually totaled 31 million Swedish kronor and grew to 3.6 billion kronor by 2006.

The Nobel Foundation is managed by six directors and is responsible in particular for the administration of the Nobel Prize and the organization of festivities. Furthermore, it organizes symposia on scientific topics.

The statutes were established by a decree of the King when the Foundation was set up on June 29, 1900. They may be changed, but only on the proposal of one of the award committees or a member of the foundation”s board. In voting, the Royal Academy of Science has two votes, the other institutions one vote each.

Since Nobel”s will specifies only a few details of the award procedure, the foundation”s statutes are authoritative in many respects. These include the obligation to maintain secrecy for 50 years, the restriction to three prize winners per category, and the prohibition on awarding prizes to deceased persons.

The Nobel Foundation received the first Balzan Prize in 1961, which itself honors, among others, eminent scientists.

Foundation assets and costs

Today, the Nobel Foundation”s capital is invested 50 percent in equities, 20 percent in interest-bearing securities, and 30 percent in other forms of investment (e.g., real estate or hedge funds). The proportion of each of these three parts can be varied by 10 percent. At the beginning of 2008, 64 percent of the assets were invested mainly in U.S. and European equities. 20 percent was in fixed-income securities, and 12 percent went into real estate and hedge funds.

Following the financial crisis from 2007, the foundation”s assets fell considerably. Whereas in 2007 it had been 3.6 billion Swedish kronor (around 380 million euros), in 2008 it fell to around 3.4 billion kronor (around 315 million euros at the time). At the end of 2011, the foundation”s assets amounted to just under 3 billion kronor (just under 350 million euros), which meant a loss of 178 million kronor compared with the previous year. Due to the decline in capital, the prize money was also reduced in 2012 for the first time since 1949 (see also section on prize money).

In 2011, the cost was about 120 million crowns. 50 million crowns of this was the prize money. The other costs for the prizes and compensation for the institutions and persons involved in the awarding amounted to 27.4 million kroner. Events during Nobel Week in Stockholm and Oslo cost 20.2 million kroner. The administration, Nobel symposia and the like cost about 22.4 million kroner. The cost of the business prize is borne by the National Bank of Sweden and amounted to 16.5 million kronor.

Les Prix Nobel

Since 1901, the Nobel Foundation has published the yearbook series Les Prix Nobel, which contains the reports of the award ceremonies, biographies of the laureates and their Nobel lectures. It is published every October for the previous year. Until 1988, the texts were in the language in which each Nobel Lecture, etc., had been delivered. Since then, the texts have been mainly in English. In 2011, the publication did not appear. Since 2012 it has appeared under the English title The Nobel Prizes.

All award winners will receive a certificate, a gold medal and a cash prize.

Prize money

Since 2020, the prize money has been 10 million Swedish kronor (approx. 987,000 euros) per category.

Alfred Nobel stipulated that his assets be invested by trustees in “safe securities” as well as that the interest income be distributed in five equal parts among the Nobel Prizes. The statutes of the Nobel Foundation further stipulate that at least 60 percent of the earnings must be distributed as prizes.

If more than one person receives an award, the prize is not necessarily divided equally among the award winners. In the case of two prize winners, the prize money is usually divided equally. In the case of three prize winners, the prize is either distributed in three equal parts, or one of the prize winners receives half of the money, while the other two share the other half.

The latter is often caused by the fact that a maximum of two achievements may be awarded. In 2005, for example, the prize in physics was divided into two parts that awarded two different achievements. One part, and thus half of the prize money, was awarded to Roy J. Glauber. The other part was awarded to John Lewis Hall and Theodor Hänsch, who then each received a quarter of the prize money. But even when only one achievement is honored, the money can be distributed according to this pattern, as in 2011, for example, when Saul Perlmutter received half of the physics prize, while Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess shared the other half.

Since the interest yield on the foundation”s assets fluctuates, there have also been declines in prize money in the past. In the beginning, the money was largely invested in government bonds, which yielded less and less money over time. For many years, the absolute amount of the prize money remained approximately the same, so that inflation caused the real value of the money to decline. Over time, however, the regulations made by the Swedish state were also relaxed. In 1946, the Nobel Foundation was exempted from taxation. In 1953, the Nobel Foundation liberalized its investment rules, which allowed the foundation”s assets to increase. Since then, the foundation has essentially invested the money in the way that seems most profitable. In 1969, the Swedish National Bank established the Economics Prize, which is always endowed at the same level as the Nobel Prizes. However, the expenses for this prize are completely financed by the Swedish National Bank.

In 1901, each of the individual prize categories was worth 150,800 Swedish kronor, which would correspond to today”s value of 7 million kronor. Until 1955, the prize sum always remained below 200,000 kronor and reached its low point in 1923, when considering the inflation-adjusted purchase value. At times, the real purchase value of the prize dropped to about 2 million crowns. The prize had its lowest absolute value in 1919, when it was worth only 133,127 crowns. Between 1953 and 2001, the prize endowment was increased several times. In 1991, for the first time again, the prize money had a higher real value than when the prize was first awarded in 1901. The prize reached its previous peak in absolute purchasing power in 2001. From 2001 to 2011, the prize amount was constant at 10 million crowns, so the real value of the prize decreased due to inflation. Since the prize winners are mostly from abroad, the fluctuating exchange rate of the crown also plays a role. In 2012, the endowment of the prize was reduced for the first time since 1949 in order to secure the endowment capital in the long term. It was 8 million crowns for a few years, until it rose to 9 million in 2017 and finally back to 10 million crowns in 2020.

Today, the Nobel Foundation”s assets are significantly higher than Nobel”s fortune. At the end of 2011, it amounted to 2.97 billion kronor, while Nobel”s bequeathed assets of 31 million kronor would correspond to a present-day purchase value of about 1.65 billion kronor. 71 percent of the money is invested abroad, 29 percent in Sweden. 53 percent of the money is in shares. The Nobel Foundation re-spends three to four percent of the income. The value of the foundation”s assets has increased and peaked in 1999, when they amounted to 3.94 billion kronor, which, adjusted for inflation, was equivalent to 279 percent of the original 1901 capital.

Medals

The statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that the laureates “shall receive a gold medal bearing the likeness of the author of the will and an appropriate inscription.” Furthermore, the laureates have the possibility to order three gilded bronze medals.

The Nobel Prize medals for physics, chemistry, medicine and literature were designed by the Swedish sculptor and engraver Erik Lindberg, the Peace Prize medal by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. In the case of the latter, however, Lindberg also took over the transfer of the design to the medals.

The obverse of the medals created by Lindberg is engraved with a portrait of Alfred Nobel and his name, date of birth and date of death (in Roman numerals). The reverse differs depending on the category, with physics and chemistry having the same motif. The full name of the laureate is also engraved there. When the first prize was awarded in 1901, the design of the medals was not quite finished, so it was not until 1902 that the medals had their present appearance.

The obverse of the Peace Prize medal shows a slightly different image from this, but the elements of portrait, name, date of birth and date of death are included as well.

The medal for the business award is different from all the others. It was designed by Gunvor Svensson-Lundqvist and includes on the obverse the symbol of the Academy of Science, a portrait of Alfred Nobel, and the inscription Sveriges Riksbank till Alfred Nobels Minne 1968 (“The National Bank of Sweden in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1968”). The name of the laureate is stamped on the rim, making it not immediately apparent. In 1975, this caused problems for Leonid Vitalievich Kantorovich and Tjalling Koopmans. Their medals were mixed up and the winners each went home with the wrong medal. It was not until four years later that the medals could be exchanged after diplomatic efforts.

The medals awarded in Sweden were minted at the Myntverket in Eskilstuna from 1902 to 2010, while the medal awarded in Norway was minted by Den Kongelige Mynt in Kongsberg.

Myntverket, which claims to have been founded in 995 and owned by the Finnish mint Rahapaja Oy since 2002, was closed in 2011. The minting of Swedish money had been moved abroad before, but Myntverket was not operating profitably with the remaining six employees, so operations were shut down by decision of the parent company. As a result, Sweden lost its last minting institution, which made the continued production of Nobel medals in Sweden impossible. The Nobel Foundation saw the Norwegian Mint as the obvious choice and had the 2011 coins minted there. Svensk Medalj AB, which has been in existence since 1972 and is also based in Eskilstuna, bought the machinery for producing medals from Myntverket. This company has been minting the medals since 2012.

The 2012 Swedish-made medals have a material value of approximately 65,000 Swedish kronor (about 7,500 euros), weigh 175 grams and are made of 18-karat gold. The Economic Prize medal is slightly heavier at 185 grams. Until 1980, the medals were made of 23-karat gold.

The medals of the Nobel Prize winners in physics Max von Laue (1914), James Franck (1925) and Niels Bohr (1922) have a special history. Bohr had received the medals from Franck and Laue, who faced political persecution by the Nazis, for safekeeping so that they would not be confiscated by the German authorities. Bohr and Danish physician August Krogh donated their medals to an auction in March 1940 for the benefit of a fund for the support of Finland, where they were purchased by an anonymous buyer. When the Germans invaded Denmark, Bohr did not want Franck”s and von Laue”s medals to fall into Nazi hands. Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy, who was working in Bohr”s lab at the time, suggested Bohr bury the medals, but Bohr was reluctant to do so because they could be unearthed. Ultimately, they dissolved the medals in aqua regia when the Germans invaded Copenhagen. In fact, the Nazis searched Bohr”s laboratory but could find nothing. After the war, Bohr sent the decomposed gold from the medals to Stockholm, where the Nobel Foundation had new medals made for Franck and von Laue. Bohr”s medal was given by its buyer to the Historical Museum in Frederiksborg and is exhibited there today.

Certificate

The design of the certificates is determined by the awarding bodies. Each certificate is specially made for the laureate by an artist and a calligrapher.

To be eligible for a Nobel Prize, one must be nominated, although the right to nominate does not belong to everyone. The rules in this regard are laid down in the statutes of the Nobel Foundation and, if necessary, are specified by the institutions responsible for selecting the laureates. They apply analogously to the Business Prize.

Only living persons can be nominated. Until 1974, it was possible to award the Nobel Prize to a person who died after the cut-off date of the nomination (end of January). Thus, Erik Axel Karlfeldt was honored posthumously in 1931 and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961. Mahatma Gandhi, on the other hand, was shot in 1948 before the cut-off date, which is why he could not receive the award. There was also no successor organization that could have been honored in his place. In 1948, the Nobel Peace Prize was ultimately not awarded because there was “no suitable living candidate”. In 1974, the statutes were amended so that a person could only be honored posthumously if he or she died between the announcement (October) and the award (December 10), as happened in 1996 in the case of William Vickrey. In 2011, immunologist Ralph M. Steinman died three days before it was announced that he was to receive the Physiology or Medicine Prize of the Year. However, the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute had no knowledge of this. The Nobel Foundation Board concluded that the purpose of the rule was to prevent an intentional posthumous award. However, since the decision was made in good faith that Steinman was alive, he would receive the prize anyway.

It is not possible to nominate yourself.

The deadline for nominations is February 1. Nominations submitted in the twelve preceding months will be considered for selection.

The prize can generally also be awarded to institutions and associations, but each awarding institution can decide for itself whether the prize entrusted to it should be available for this purpose. So far, only the Nobel Peace Prize has made use of this option.

Right of nomination

Different people have the right to make a nomination depending on the award category:

Interpretation of the criteria

The wording of the will suggests that the award should be given to the person who has made an achievement in the year preceding the award. This poses a problem, especially in the scientific categories. Many important findings are not generally recognized until years or even decades later. A rapid awarding of prizes for achievements can also mean that ultimately insignificant or even incorrect research results receive the prize.

The statutes interpret the will to award prizes for the most recent achievements in the respective field and for older achievements only if their significance has only recently become apparent. Furthermore, only achievements which, according to experience and examination by experts, are of such outstanding importance as intended in the will shall be awarded.

Therefore, the prize is often awarded decades after the actual achievement to ensure that the honored achievement meets the standards set by Nobel.

This also means that many winners of scientific prizes have already retired from professional life by the time they receive the award. In some cases, this even poses a problem. Werner Forßmann, the winner in the medicine category in 1956, had long since stopped working in cardiological research at the time of his award, but in an ordinary urological practice in Bad Kreuznach, which now no longer seemed appropriate. As a result, he became the surgical chief physician at the Protestant hospital in Düsseldorf, where he soon fell out with the board of trustees there and was dismissed after the probationary period, but this was withdrawn because of the great prestige of the Nobel Prize. In the case of physics Nobel laureate Theodor Hänsch, the problem arose soon after receiving the award in 2005 that he should have retired in October 2006 and at best would have been allowed to continue working until he was 68. At times, he therefore even considered going to the USA. However, the Bavarian government assured him of a solution based on private employment.

Sometimes an achievement can no longer be honored because the potential laureate is already deceased. Oswald T. Avery, for example, never received a Nobel Prize, although his finding that DNA is the carrier of genetic information was certainly a century-old discovery. However, it took too long for science to accept this finding. He was nominated a total of 36 times between 1932 and 1953 (data for 1954 and 1955 are not yet available).

Secrecy

According to the statutes of the Foundation, information about nominees and nominators, as well as related opinions and research, are kept under lock and key by the Committee for a period of 50 years. Only then can the files be consulted on request, with each case being examined and access reserved for historical research.

Restrictions in the selection of awardees

In addition to the restriction to living awardees and the maximum number of awardees and awarded achievements, there is also the requirement that the achievement must have been previously published.

Non-award of the prize

If there is no proposal among the nominations that meets the outlined conditions, the prize money will be kept until the following year. If even then no worthy prize winner is found, the money will be returned to the Foundation.

This is the only possibility according to the statutes not to award the prize. Both late awarding and non-awarding have occurred numerous times, especially in times of war. This was most often the case with the Nobel Peace Prize, which was deferred a total of 12 times and not awarded at all 19 times.

The prize money was always given to the special fund of the respective prize category in case of non-award in the years 1914 to 1932. From 1933 to 1948, in such a case, one third of the prize money was transferred to the main fund, while the other two thirds went to the special fund of the respective prize category. Since then, both variants have been used, but this only applied to the Nobel Peace Prize, because the other prizes were last not awarded during the Second World War. The first time the prize was not awarded was in 1914, when no one was awarded in the literature and peace categories. The last non-award to date was the Nobel Peace Prize in 1972.

The possibility of late awarding came into use a few times in wartime, but also clustered in the period between the world wars. In the 1920s, this occurred more than once in each prize category. For example, in the Nobel Prizes for the year 1925, only the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded without delay. In the scientific categories, however, there has been no deferral of the prize since World War II. In the case of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this was last used in 1949. The first delayed award was the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912, and after this had become unusual since the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize, which was not awarded until 1977, the possibility of deferral was used again for the first time in 2018, when the Swedish Academy postponed the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature to 2019 due to a crisis.

According to the statutes, the business award has the same award guidelines, but neither the option of deferral nor that of non-award has been used so far.

Number of awardees

The prize may be divided between up to two performances. If a performance was made by two or three persons, the prize may be divided among them. However, the prize may never go to more than three persons at the same time.

As the following table (as of October 14, 2020) shows, the distribution of Nobel Prizes is handled very differently in the individual disciplines.

The Nobel Prize for Literature is almost never shared (last in 1974), but the scientific categories are often shared, in physics and medicine even in more than half of the awards. With the exception of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the trend in all prizes is toward prize sharing.

This can be explained by the fact that literary achievements are almost exclusively made by individuals. At least, no joint achievement has ever been awarded a prize. Therefore, a division among three award winners is very unlikely, because then at least two award winners would have to be honored for the same achievement. According to the statutes, a split between two persons, each with an independent achievement, is only conceivable if both achievements were equally significant in the respective year and there was no achievement that was even greater. In the scientific categories, on the other hand, achievements are often shared by many researchers, so a split is usually appropriate.

Multiple award winners

To date, the prize has been awarded twice to only four people – Marie Curie (1903 for physics and 1911 for chemistry), Linus Carl Pauling (1954 for chemistry and 1962 for peace), John Bardeen (1956 and 1972 both for physics) and Frederick Sanger (1958 and 1980 both for chemistry). Pauling is the only one who did not have to share any of the prizes with anyone else.

organizations have also been honored with the prize several times. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981. Its predecessor organization, the International Nansen Office for Refugees (High Commission of the League of Nations), was awarded this prize in 1938, and its head Fridtjof Nansen in 1922. The International Committee of the Red Cross was honored for its peace efforts as many as three times (1917, 1944, 1963), in 1963 together with the League of Red Cross Societies. The founder of the ICRC and the Red Cross movement, Henry Dunant, received the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 together with the French pacifist Frédéric Passy.

Share of women

By 2019, a total of 866 Nobel Prizes in the five classical categories had been awarded, of which 787 went to men, 52 to women and 27 to organizations. Deducting multiple laureates, 784 men, 51 women and 24 organizations were thus honored. In addition, there were 82 male winners and two female winners of the Business Award. The proportion of women, including the Business Award, is therefore 5.7 percent.

Persons who have received one of the awards more than once are also counted more than once in the table. The number of physically different prize winners is shown in parentheses.

According to Nobel”s will, only the most worthy should receive the prize. Gender is not mentioned.

Accordingly, early Nobel Prizes were awarded to women, first in 1903, but the distribution over the years is very irregular. The Literature Prize was awarded to a woman a total of six times between 1909 and 1966, and then not again until 1991. The situation is similar with the Peace Prize, which was awarded to women in 1905, 1931 and 1946, and then not again until 1976. In chemistry, a woman was not awarded the prize again until 2009, after 1964. In the Medicine Prize, only Gerty Cori received the award until 1976, but 11 more women have been honored since then. The physics prize was the first to be awarded to a woman, but has the lowest percentage of women. The next awards to women here were not until 1963 and 2018. However, a woman was awarded again as early as 2020. The prize for economics was a male-only domain for a long time, until it finally went to Elinor Ostrom 40 years after the first award.

The prizes in the natural science categories can only go to scientists and are usually awarded a long time after the prize-winning achievement, so that previous prize winners have mostly come from generations of researchers in which the proportion of women was very low. For the other fields, the field of potential awardees is broader. The Nobel Peace Prize Award Committee may also award organizations. The Literature Prize can be awarded to writers regardless of qualification or genre.

Marie Curie is the only two-time laureate. She received her first prize for physics in 1903, along with her husband Pierre and Antoine Henri Becquerel. However, this was at the suggestion of her husband, who told the Nobel Prize Committee by letter that his wife had an equal share in the achievement. She received the second prize for chemistry in 1911, and was the first female laureate in both prize categories. Apart from her, only Linus Carl Pauling has received two Nobel Prizes in different categories.

Three women from German-speaking countries have received the Nobel Prize so far. In 1905, the Austrian Bertha von Suttner became the second woman ever to receive the Nobel Prize and was also the first Nobel Peace Prize winner. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard was the only German woman to receive the Nobel Prize in 1995. The Austrian Elfriede Jelinek received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.

The year with the most women so far was 2009, when five women and eight men received the award, including the first female award winner in chemistry in 45 years and the first female business award winner ever.

A total of 19 women were the sole winners of the Nobel Prize. So far, it has happened three times that only women have shared a prize. In 1976, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan received the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman were also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 went to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna.

Furthermore, Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol W. Greider shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Jack Szostak in 2009. The spokesperson for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams, received one half of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, and the organization as such received the other half. All other female laureates shared the prize with one or more men.

In 2005, the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 campaign nominated 1000 women from 151 countries for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Youngest and oldest Nobel laureates

The earliest date of birth of all Nobel Prize winners was Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903), who was awarded in the category of literature one year before his death. He was the oldest of all Nobel laureates until 1927. Jacobus Henricus van ”t Hoff (1852-1911) was the youngest winner of the Nobel Prize when it was first awarded, at the age of 47. He was succeeded the very next year by Pieter Zeeman, who was 37. William Lawrence Bragg, who was awarded in 1915 at the age of 25, was the youngest laureate for almost 100 years. The following lists list the oldest and youngest laureates, respectively, with at least the record holder for each gender included in each category.

1 Since Murad”s birth date is not precisely known, it is unclear whether Bragg or Murad were younger.

Since May 4, 2008, Rita Levi-Montalcini has been the person who has reached the highest age of all Nobel Prize winners. She died on December 30, 2012, at the age of 103 years and 252 days. The oldest male Nobel laureate is biochemist Edmond Henri Fischer, who died at the age of 101 years and 137 days.

The oldest living Nobel laureate is pharmacologist Tu Youyou, who is 90 years and 327 days old. The oldest living Nobel laureate is John B. Goodenough, who is 99 years and 120 days old.

Among the economics laureates, Ronald Coase reached the highest age at 102. The oldest living economics laureate is Robert M. Solow at 97 years and 91 days. The oldest economics laureate was Elinor Ostrom, who lived to be 78.

The 1957 physics laureates, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, are those laureates for whom the longest period of time, 63 years and 347 days, has elapsed since the prize was awarded. Among the female laureates, it is Mairead Corrigan, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 together with Betty Williams (1943-2020), for whom the longest period of time, namely 44 years and 347 days, has passed since the prize was awarded. Broken down by category, the respective longest time spans are 54 years and more in the natural science categories, while it is only 47 years for the Peace Prize and 37 years for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The longest elapsed time among business award winners was achieved by Paul A. Samuelson, who received the award in 1970 and died 39 years and 3 days later. Among the still living laureates, the longest period of time has passed in the case of Robert M. Solow. He received the prize in 1987, 33 years and 347 days ago. For the first female laureate, Elinor Ostrom, 2 years and 185 days passed. The only other female business laureate, Esther Duflo, will break that mark on June 12, 2022.

Nationality of the awardees

In his will, Nobel expressly stipulated that Scandinavians should not be given preference in the awarding of prizes, but that only the most worthy should be selected. Whether this rule is objectively taken into account is unclear, since a disproportionate award may also be due to the fact that a particularly large number of prize-worthy achievements are made in this country.

With the exception of Sweden, the Scandinavian countries are not strongly represented. Sweden, however, provides prize winners in every category in at least four years. With the exception of the Chemistry Prize, where Switzerland has been involved in prizes more often, only significantly more populous countries are ahead of Sweden.

The United States is particularly well represented. They lead the statistics in all categories except literature. In economics, as of 2012, just 22 of the 71 laureates are not from the United States. But even excluding the economics prize, there are hardly any years since World War II in which no American has received an award. This was the case only in 1948, 1957 and 1991, with one U.S. native among the 1948 awardees. Before World War II, the picture was just the opposite: by 1922, only six Americans had been awarded a Nobel Prize, three of them Nobel Peace Prizes. The 1920s and 1930s still find seven years in which no American was awarded. Among the laureates, however, are numerous immigrants who had fled Europe or who went to the United States because of the attractiveness of the scientific institutions and then later became citizens. In 1973, for example, both U.S. laureates were immigrants.

For a long time, the Nobel Foundation kept lists indicating nationality, but has since removed this information from its website. At the festivities, a representative of the respective country, usually the ambassador, is invited and given a place among the guests of honor. The nationality is usually indicated by the laureate himself. In the case of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Institute maintains its own lists, some of which differ from those of the Nobel Foundation.

Among other things, this practice causes nationality information to be occasionally disputed or confusing. For some dual nationals, only one nationality is given, as in the case of Elizabeth Blackburn, who is also an Australian citizen but is listed in the Nobel lists only as a U.S. citizen with an Australian birthplace. Also, in the case of laureates who stood between several nations, such as Albert Schweitzer, who was born in Alsace, the indication of only one nationality is considered insufficient or, depending on the viewpoint of the observer, incorrect. Another reason for discrepancies is the numerous state changes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus, for some laureates, the place of birth is mentioned with the then and now state affiliation, while for others only one of the two is mentioned. An example of this is Günter Blobel, whose birthplace, now in Poland, is listed as a place in Germany.

Since the Nobel Peace Prize has already been awarded several times to laureates who have worked in their work towards a solution to a conflict over the state affiliation of an area, the very indication of nationality runs the risk of being seen as tendentious. For example, in the case of the award to the 14th Dalai Lama Tendzin Gyatsho, Tibet was given as the nationality, although this state exists only in the form of a government-in-exile. In 1998 and 1976, awards were given for achievements in the settlement of the Northern Ireland conflict. Here, the Nobel Institute chose Northern Ireland as the nationality, even though this region has never been an independent state and no party to the conflict is seeking to establish one. The Nobel Foundation, on the other hand, names the United Kingdom as the nationality after the formal current affiliation.

Political conflicts

The Nobel Prize itself is politically neutral, but time and again the selection of the laureate leads to conflicts with governments that dislike the recipient.

This is particularly true of the Nobel Peace Prize. Although the committee is usually reticent about making unambiguous assessments, the selection itself is often seen as a statement in favor of or against a particular policy. In individual cases, clear criticism is also voiced, such as the award to Jimmy Carter in 2002. At the announcement, committee chairman Gunnar Berge spoke out explicitly against the Iraq policy of then U.S. President George W. Bush.

Due to the award of the Nobel Prize in 1935 to the pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, a conflict arose with the National Socialist regime in Germany.

From 1934 onwards, various interest groups campaigned for the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to Carl von Ossietzky, who had been arrested in 1933 and deported to a concentration camp. In 1934, the nomination was submitted too late and by an institution not eligible to nominate. A new attempt in 1935 was promising, but the German government exerted considerable pressure to prevent the award. The Nobel Committee refrained from awarding the prize in 1935 and, in accordance with the statutes, put the prize on hold so that it could still be awarded retroactively in 1936.

Ossietzky, who was seriously ill, was transferred from the concentration camp to a hospital in 1936 and released from prison on November 7. The international campaign had an effect and Ossietzky was awarded the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize on November 23. Despite urging from the Gestapo and Hermann Göring himself, he decided to accept the prize. He was refused permission to leave the country for the award ceremony in Norway, and he died in Berlin in 1938.

Otto Loewi went to Austria as a German researcher, where he also received Austrian citizenship. In 1936 he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in Graz, together with Henry Dale. As a Jew, he was subjected to anti-Semitic persecution, imprisonment, and pressure to leave the country. In March 1938, Austria was annexed to Germany. In September 1938, immediately before leaving for England, the Nobel Prize money was forcibly taken from him by the regime.

To ensure that such a political disaster for the regime was not repeated, Adolf Hitler decreed a doctrine in 1937 that prohibited Reich Germans from accepting the Nobel Prize “for all time to come.” Instead, a German National Prize for Art and Science was introduced and awarded in 1937 and 1938.

Several German scientists were affected by the ban. Richard Kuhn received the prize in chemistry in 1938, but could not accept it until 1948. In 1939, Adolf Butenandt received the prize in chemistry; however, he could not accept the prize until 1949. Gerhard Domagk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1939. He was even imprisoned for expressing his gratitude for the prize. In 1947 he was able to accept it after all. All of these prize winners had to forego the prize money, as the prize would have had to be collected within a year.

In two cases, the Soviet regime took action against the awarding of prizes to citizens of the Soviet Union.

In 1958, the writer Boris Pasternak was urged to reject the Nobel Prize for Literature that had been awarded to him. At first he accepted, but under pressure from the Soviet government he declined the prize after all. Doctor Zhivago, his best-known work, had appeared only abroad in 1957 because it was rejected for publication in the Soviet Union because of its “counterrevolutionary spirit” and “pathological individualism.” The awarding of the Nobel Prize to Pasternak was seen by officials as an unfriendly act. Pasternak was expelled from the Writers” Union.

If he had left the country to accept the prize, Pasternak would have had to fear that he would not be allowed to return to Russia afterwards. However, he did not want to leave the country under any circumstances, so he refused to accept it. He died in 1960, and Doctor Zhivago was not allowed to be published in the Soviet Union until 1987. Boris Pasternak”s son accepted the prize in a special ceremony in Stockholm in 1989.

Physicist Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was awarded the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a human rights activist in the Soviet Union, but he was denied permission to leave the country, so his wife, Yelena Georgiyevna Bonner, traveled to Oslo to accept the prize and deliver the acceptance speech and lecture.

In awarding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who at the time was serving an 11-year prison sentence for “subverting state power,” the committee resisted pressure from his home country. The Chinese government reacted coolly, calling the laureate a “criminal.” The pressure to boycott the award ceremony was followed by 19 countries, most of which maintain close relations with China and did not want to jeopardize them. Liu Xiaobo was not released from prison, and his wife was also unable to receive the prize because, like numerous other Chinese activists, she was banned from leaving the country. The last time that neither the laureate nor a representative close to him was able to attend was when Carl von Ossietzky was awarded the prize in 1936.

At the ceremony, the laureate”s chair remained symbolically empty. China blocked the broadcast of the ceremony in the country by shutting down two international news channels and tightening Internet censorship, which also affected the pages of the Nobel Prize. Committee chairman Jagland urged the release of Liu Xiaobo. The prize is being held in Oslo until it can be collected. Liu Xiaobo died in 2017 without being able to receive the prize.

From 2010 to 2017, the Confucius Peace Prize was awarded in China, which is considered as a counter prize to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since there is no public nomination and the winners are announced before the awards ceremony, the award enjoys a great deal of attention on the day of the announcement. The announcement of the awards traditionally takes place in early to mid-October. The awards are usually announced in the following order:

Press conferences today are usually held mostly in English. However, the Swedish awarding bodies usually read out the announcement with the justification also in Swedish. Often the names of the laureates and the explanatory statement are also read out in French, German and Russian, as Alfred Nobel was also fluent in these languages. However, this varies depending on the announcer and the origin of the particular laureate whose name is announced.

Deadlines are usually marked “at the earliest” because there may be delays. These occur, for example, when calling an awardee takes more time than expected.

The award winners are usually informed by telephone before the public, also to prepare them for the expected onslaught of the press. Because of the time difference, these calls often reach U.S. awardees in the middle of the night. Since the laureates know at best that they have been nominated, the news usually comes most unexpectedly and not infrequently in memorable situations. The 1991 Nobel laureate in chemistry, Richard R. Ernst, was on a flight to Moscow when he was asked to enter the cockpit, where he received the news. Günter Grass was at the dentist. Willy Brandt was in a session of the German Bundestag when Bundestag President Kai-Uwe von Hassel interrupted the session and announced the news from Oslo. Sometimes, however, those responsible do not manage to reach the prize winners. This was the case, for example, with George E. Smith, who learned about it during the first press interview.

The awards ceremony in Stockholm and Oslo takes place every year on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel”s death. A number of traditions have grown up around the awarding of the prizes since 1901.

Stockholm

The laureates are the center of a whole Nobel Week, which begins a few days before December 10 and ends on December 13. They are accommodated in the Grand Hôtel Stockholm near the Old Town in Stockholm.

According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, the laureate should, if possible, give a lecture on the awarded work. This should be given before the prize is awarded or no later than six months afterwards.

Lectures in Stockholm are traditionally all held on December 8. If December 8 falls on the weekend, there may be deviations. For example, in 2012, when December 8 fell on a Saturday, the lectures for literature and medicine were already held on December 7, but the others were held the following day as usual.

If the laureate cannot be present for health or personal reasons, another solution will be chosen if possible. Harold Pinter, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, sent his lecture by video, as he was unable to travel for health reasons. Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, was also unable to attend for health reasons and had the lecture read by her publisher.

The highlight of Nobel Week is December 10, when the Swedish king first presents the prizes in the early evening. This day is the so-called Nobel Day in Sweden, which is one of the days when the Swedish flag is to be hoisted.

At the first award ceremony in 1901, all the festivities took place in the Hall of Mirrors at Stockholm”s Grand Hotel. There were 113 men present, who toasted once to the king, Oskar II, and once to the crown prince, later Gustav V, and then sang a fourfold cheer. The banquet also took place there. The king himself, however, was not present and did not present the awards until 1902.

Since 1926, the award ceremony has been held at Konserthuset on Hötorget. The Swedish royal anthem is sung as the royal family enters. Speeches are given about the work done by the prize winners. These are mostly in Swedish, but the final sentences, as well as the invitation to receive the prize, are delivered in English or in the laureate”s native language. The King then presents the prize medal and a certificate. At the conclusion of the award presentation, the Swedish national anthem is sung. This is followed by the departure of the royal family. In between there is a musical program.

The Konserthuset has very limited space, so the choice of guests is even more restricted than at the banquet that follows. The royal family, the laureates, the chairman of the Nobel Foundation and the individual chairmen of the awarding bodies are seated on the stage. In the front rows sit about 90 members of the awarding organizations, former laureates and speakers.

The laureates then travel to the Nobel Banquet, which has been held in Stadshuset since 1930, with few exceptions; originally the Golden Hall was used for this purpose. As this became too small, it is now held in the Blue Hall on the lower floor. The Golden Hall serves as a kitchen and is later released for dancing.

At the banquet”s table of honor sit the laureates, the royal family, high representatives of the Nobel bodies, and foreign guests of honor, e.g. the ambassadors of the countries from which the laureates come. These special guests of honor march in a procession at the beginning. Other guests at the Nobel Banquets include those involved in the awarding process as well as guests of honor from around the world. Furthermore, a limited number of students from Swedish universities may attend. The right to purchase these tickets is drawn in an annual lottery. Students also have ceremonial duties as escorts during the procession and as stewards. In total, over 1000 people attend the banquet. However, the number is strictly limited due to the limited space in Stadshuset; even former laureates are denied a ticket when the seats are filled.

The multi-course menu is kept secret until the very end and, unlike all other official Nobel Prize documents, is only available in French. The hospitality of the guests is carried out by several hundred employees, some of whom have rehearsed this long in advance.

The King as well as the Chairman of the Nobel Foundation make a toast in memory of Alfred Nobel. After the meal, the laureates give short speeches of thanks. If there is more than one laureate in a category, one of them gives the speech on behalf of his or her fellow laureates.

In addition, there is an elaborate musical accompaniment program between the courses and dancing after the end of the meal. The prize medals will then also be on display in showcases.

After the end of the banquet, the student association of one of Stockholm”s universities traditionally hosts an elaborate party with a particular theme. Most of the prize winners still attend here, and they are encouraged to show off their singing skills.

In peacetime, the banquet has been cancelled four times so far: in 1907 because of national mourning for King Oscar II, in 1924 because none of the laureates came for various reasons, in 1956 because people wanted to prevent the Soviet ambassador from attending in protest against the violent suppression of the Hungarian popular uprising, and in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Celebrations of the awards during World War I were made up in 1920. During World War II, the prize was not awarded at all for several years and no celebrations were held.

In the days before and after the awards ceremony, the winners take part in numerous events, such as visiting schools.

December 13 is the Feast of St. Lucy in Sweden, when children hold a procession with candles early in the morning. The Nobel laureates are awakened by such a procession. This is the traditional end of Nobel Week.

Oslo

Also on December 10, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo in the early afternoon. Although Norway also has days when the Norwegian flag is to be flown on public buildings, unlike Sweden, December 10 is not one of them.

The award ceremony in Oslo has been held in the City Hall since 1990. From 1926 to 1946 it was held in the Nobel Institute, then from 1947 in the Auditorium of the University of Oslo. The presentation itself takes place in the presence of the Norwegian King and is performed by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Afterwards, the laureate delivers the lecture prescribed by the Nobel Statutes in the form of a lengthy speech.

Afterwards, a banquet will also be held in Oslo.

Since 1994, the Nobel Peace Prize Concert has been held every year on the following day. This concert in honor of the laureate usually includes a wide range of musical genres. Parts of the program are based on the laureate of the year, i.e., artists from the laureate”s home countries, for example, perform. The prize winners are also presented and are often present. Tickets for the concert can be purchased by the general public.

The decisions of the award committees are often controversial. Particularly in the Peace and Literature award categories, there is isolated to severe criticism almost every year. In the natural science categories, however, criticism is rare and is usually limited to the fact that the other scientists involved in the award-winning achievement were not taken into account (see below). There are also criticisms that the awarding process is not transparent or that a work is honored too late (when the award winner can no longer use the prize money for research because of his or her advanced age).

The fact that an award in the category of economics is associated with the Nobel Prize and its procedure is also criticized because the usefulness of economic theses for mankind (the idea of the Nobel Prizes) is doubtful and economics is unjustly elevated to the rank of the natural sciences.

Importance of performance

In the case of the Nobel Peace Prize, criticism usually stems from the fact that it is often awarded at a relatively short distance from the relevant event, so that historical consideration and the inclusion of long-term consequences are not possible. An example is Henry Kissinger and Lê Đức Thọ, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for ending a war with millions of victims that they had started on their own shared responsibility. Only Henry Kissinger accepted the prize; Lê Đức Thọ refused to accept it because, in his view, there was still no peace in Vietnam at the time. Awards to Yasser Arafat or Menachem Begin for their roles in the Middle East peace process were also questioned after the fact. Another example is the controversial award of the prize in 1985 to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which was accused by conservative and Christian Democratic European politicians of having too close ideological ties to the Eastern Bloc. Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the year he took office as U.S. president, without having any major foreign policy successes to show for it.

The Nobel Prize for Literature is also frequently criticized. For example, the decision in favor of Harold Pinter in 2005 was heavily criticized by some literary critics. In the case of Orhan Pamuk”s selection in 2006, the reaction in Pamuk”s home country of Turkey was undercooled, as he is a politically very controversial writer there. However, there were also many positive voices in both examples.

In 1938, the US-American Pearl S. Buck was awarded the literature prize. This award was met with incomprehension at the time and is still often regarded as a bad decision today, since Buck”s works had little literary value. This criticism gave rise to the so-called “Lex Buck”. This is the unwritten rule that only authors who had been nominated at least once before should be honored. According to the former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Horace Engdahl, this guideline is used. How often it is adhered to, however, cannot be definitively determined until at least 50 years after the prize has been awarded, due to the Nobel Foundation”s closure periods. From the data published so far by the Nobel Foundation, which goes back to 1966, it can be seen that both William Faulkner (1949) and Bertrand Russell (1950) received their Nobel Prizes after being nominated only once. However, this was an exceptional situation: according to the statutes, the prize could be deferred for one year if no suitable laureate could be found. This was apparently the case in 1949, despite 35 nominations. Had no worthy laureate for 1949 been found among the 54 nominations in 1950 – by then a record – the prize would have returned to the Foundation. All later prize winners up to at least 1969 have been nominated several times.

Number of awardees

Another problem, especially in the field of natural sciences, is the limitation to three award winners. Today, scientific achievements can often no longer be attributed to individual scientists. In the field of elementary particle physics, for example, new findings are made at large-scale accelerators on which hundreds of scientists are working. In such cases, however, the award is not made to the relevant institutions or the individual scientists. Instead, awards are given to individuals on a representative basis, and it may be debatable to what extent they actually contributed to the project.

This problem is most easily circumvented in the case of the Nobel Peace Prize, where it is quite common for organizations to be awarded the prize. In the case of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the problem exists at least in principle, since, of course, writers” collectives could also possibly produce achievements worthy of the Nobel Prize.

Lobbying

One explanation for the strikingly large number of U.S. laureates is provided by the argument that the Americans do the best lobbying. Long before nominations are made, the largest universities agree on only a few candidates, so that the Swedish Nobel jurors are always amazed when they telephone Ivy League faculties with a request for suitable suggestions and regularly hear the same names. This frequent mention of names means that the Nobel Assembly can hardly avoid considering the named candidates.

Investment in arms deals

In 2017, there was criticism from NGOs that the foundation was investing in shares in companies that manufacture or modernize nuclear weapons. The foundation then changed its investment guidelines to rule out such a thing in the future.

Many other prizes are considered comparable to the Nobel Prize for various motivations. Furthermore, there are some prizes that are directly or indirectly related to the Nobel Prize.

Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Since 1969, there has been an award, the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences” or the “Nobel Prize in Economics”. The prize is awarded together with the Nobel Prizes, is subject to the same award criteria and is endowed with the same sum. However, it is not mentioned in Alfred Nobel”s will; the prize money is financed by the Swedish National Bank from its own funds.

Right Livelihood Award

The Right Livelihood Award has been presented annually since 1980 for achievements in ecology and development. Usually there are four laureates. This prize is known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, especially in German-speaking countries. However, it has no ties to the Nobel Prize and receives less international attention. The founder, the German-Swedish philatelist Jakob von Uexküll, submitted his idea to the Nobel Foundation to establish two more Nobel Prizes for ecology and in connection with poverty. However, the foundation rejected the idea.

Theoretically, such an establishment would have been possible along the lines of the Economics Prize, i.e., through an annex to the Nobel Statutes and completely external funding. A frequently cited reason for the rejection is the criticism of the Economics Prize after its establishment. Von Uexküll also promised only a share in the funding.

Von Uexküll decided to award such a prize on his own. He founded the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, which is financed by individual donations and is now based in Stockholm. In the style of the Nobel Prize, the Right Livelihood Award is presented each year in the days leading up to December 10, using the premises of the Swedish Parliament.

Prices in other departments

Since the Nobel Prize covers only a few disciplines, there are numerous other prizes that are of outstanding importance in their respective disciplines and thus play a similar role to the Nobel Prize.

The following awards enjoy such a reputation:

Prizes indirectly related to the Nobel Prize

Furthermore, there are some prizes that, like the Nobel Prize, have a connection to the institutions involved in the Nobel Prize or to the Scandinavian countries and are therefore placed close to it:

Asian prices

Furthermore, there are some prizes awarded in Asia, which enjoy a reputation there comparable to the Nobel Prize:

Alternative and counter prices

Some prizes have been established as alternatives or counter-prizes to the Nobel Prize. None of these prizes are still awarded.

Ig Nobel Prize

The Ig Nobel Prize is a satirical prize and is awarded for useless, unimportant or bizarre scientific work. Contrary to the name, the prize is no longer seen as negative and many laureates gladly accept it. At the award ceremony, real Nobel laureates do the handing over. Since 2010, there has even been a scientist, Andre Geim, who has received both the Ig Nobel Prize and (10 years later) the Nobel Prize.

Sources

  1. Nobelpreis
  2. Nobel Prize
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