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For a comprehensive list of Nobel Prize recipients, see List of
Nobel laureates. For the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory
of Alfred Nobel, see Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic
Sciences. For the unrelated American civil engineering prize,
see Alfred Noble Prize.
Nobel Prize
A golden medallion with an embossed image of Alfred Nobel
facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•"
then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then
"MDCCCXXXIII" above, followed by (smaller) "OB•" then
"MDCCCXCVI" below.
Awarded for Outstanding contributions for humanity in
chemistry, literature, peace, physics, physiology or medicine,
and economic sciences
Country
Sweden (all prizes except the Peace Prize)
Norway (Peace Prize only)
Presented by
Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute (Physiology or
Medicine)
Norwegian Nobel Committee (Peace)
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Chemistry, Economic
Sciences, Physics)
Swedish Academy (Literature)
Reward(s) Prize money of 9 million SEK, approx.
US$986,000 (2018);[1]
a medal;[2] and a diploma
First awarded 1901; 117 years ago
Number of laureates 590 prizes to 935 laureates (as of 2018)[1]
Website nobelprize.org
The Nobel Prize (/ˈnoʊbɛl/, Swedish pronunciation: [nʊˈbɛlː];
Swedish definite form, singular: Nobelpriset; Norwegian:
Nobelprisen) is a set of annual international awards bestowed in
several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in
recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances.

The will of the Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel established the


five Nobel prizes in 1895. The prizes in Chemistry, Literature,
Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded
in 1901.[1][3][4] In 1968, Sweden's central bank, Sveriges
Riksbank, established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic
Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, which, although not being
a Nobel Prize,[5] has become informally known as the "Nobel
Prize in Economics".[6][7][8] The prizes are widely regarded as
the most prestigious awards available in the fields of chemistry,
economics, literature, peace activism, physics, and physiology
or medicine.[9][10][11]

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel


Prize in Chemistry, the Nobel Prize in Physics, and the Sveriges
Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred
Nobel; the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute awards
the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; the Swedish
Academy grants the Nobel Prize in Literature; and the Nobel
Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Between 1901 and 2018, the Nobel Prizes (and the Prizes in
Economic Sciences, from 1969 on) were awarded 590 times to
935 people and organizations.[1] With some receiving the Nobel
Prize more than once, this makes a total of 27 organizations and
908 individuals.[1][12] The prize ceremonies take place
annually in Stockholm, Sweden (with the exception of the Peace
Prize ceremony, which is held in Oslo, Norway). Each recipient
(known as a "laureate") receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a
sum of money that has been decided by the Nobel Foundation.
(As of 2017, each prize is worth 9,000,000 SEK, or about
US$1,110,000, €944,000, £836,000 or ₹73,800,000.[13])
Medals made before 1980 were struck in 23 carat gold, and later
in 18 carat green gold plated with a 24 carat gold coating.

The prize is not awarded posthumously; however, if a person is


awarded a prize and dies before receiving it, the prize may still
be presented.[14] A prize may not be shared among more than
three individuals, although the Nobel Peace Prize can be
awarded to organizations of more than three people.[15]

Contents
1 History
1.1 Nobel Foundation
1.1.1 Formation of Foundation
1.1.2 Foundation capital and cost
1.2 First prizes
1.3 Second World War
1.4 Prize in Economic Sciences
2 Award process
2.1 Nominations
2.2 Selection
2.3 Posthumous nominations
2.4 Recognition time lag
3 Award ceremonies
3.1 Nobel Banquet
3.2 Nobel lecture
4 Prizes
4.1 Medals
4.2 Diplomas
4.3 Award money
5 Controversies and criticisms
5.1 Controversial recipients
5.2 Overlooked achievements
5.3 Emphasis on discoveries over inventions
5.4 Gender disparity
6 Specially distinguished laureates
6.1 Multiple laureates
6.2 Family laureates
7 Cultural impact
8 Refusals and constraints
9 Legacy
10 See also
11 References
11.1 Notes
11.2 Sources
11.3 Bibliography
12 Further reading
13 External links
History
A black and white photo of a bearded man in his fifties sitting in
a chair.
Alfred Nobel had the unpleasant surprise of reading his own
obituary, which was titled The merchant of death is dead, in a
French newspaper.
Alfred Nobel (About this soundlisten (help·info)) was born on
21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of
engineers.[16] He was a chemist, engineer, and inventor. In
1894, Nobel purchased the Bofors iron and steel mill, which he
made into a major armaments manufacturer. Nobel also invented
ballistite. This invention was a precursor to many smokeless
military explosives, especially the British smokeless powder
cordite. As a consequence of his patent claims, Nobel was
eventually involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over
cordite. Nobel amassed a fortune during his lifetime, with most
of his wealth coming from his 355 inventions, of which
dynamite is the most famous.[17]

In 1888, Nobel was astonished to read his own obituary, titled


The merchant of death is dead, in a French newspaper. As it was
Alfred's brother Ludvig who had died, the obituary was eight
years premature. The article disconcerted Nobel and made him
apprehensive about how he would be remembered. This inspired
him to change his will.[18] On 10 December 1896, Alfred Nobel
died in his villa in San Remo, Italy, from a cerebral
haemorrhage. He was 63 years old.[19]
Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. He composed the
last over a year before he died, signing it at the Swedish–
Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895.[20][21] To
widespread astonishment, Nobel's last will specified that his
fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer
the "greatest benefit on mankind" in physics, chemistry,
physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.[22] Nobel
bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million SEK (c. US$186
million, €150 million in 2008), to establish the five Nobel
Prizes.[23][24] Because of skepticism surrounding the will, it
was not until 26 April 1897 that it was approved by the Storting
in Norway.[25] The executors of Nobel's will, Ragnar Sohlman
and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take
care of Nobel's fortune and organised the award of prizes.[26]

Nobel's instructions named a Norwegian Nobel Committee to


award the Peace Prize, the members of whom were appointed
shortly after the will was approved in April 1897. Soon
thereafter, the other prize-awarding organizations were
designated. These were Karolinska Institutet on 7 June, the
Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy
of Sciences on 11 June.[27] The Nobel Foundation reached an
agreement on guidelines for how the prizes should be awarded;
and, in 1900, the Nobel Foundation's newly created statutes
were promulgated by King Oscar II.[22] In 1905, the personal
union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved.
Nobel Foundation
Formation of Foundation
Main article: Nobel Foundation
A paper with stylish handwriting on it with the title "Testament"
Alfred Nobel's will stated that 94% of his total assets should be
used to establish the Nobel Prizes.
According to his will and testament read in Stockholm on 30
December 1896, a foundation established by Alfred Nobel
would reward those who serve humanity. The Nobel Prize was
funded by Alfred Nobel's personal fortune. According to the
official sources, Alfred Nobel bequeathed from the shares 94%
of his fortune to the Nobel Foundation that now forms the
economic base of the Nobel Prize.[28]

The Nobel Foundation was founded as a private organization on


29 June 1900. Its function is to manage the finances and
administration of the Nobel Prizes.[29] In accordance with
Nobel's will, the primary task of the Foundation is to manage the
fortune Nobel left. Robert and Ludvig Nobel were involved in
the oil business in Azerbaijan, and according to Swedish
historian E. Bargengren, who accessed the Nobel family
archives, it was this "decision to allow withdrawal of Alfred's
money from Baku that became the decisive factor that enabled
the Nobel Prizes to be established".[30] Another important task
of the Nobel Foundation is to market the prizes internationally
and to oversee informal administration related to the prizes. The
Foundation is not involved in the process of selecting the Nobel
laureates.[31][32] In many ways, the Nobel Foundation is
similar to an investment company, in that it invests Nobel's
money to create a solid funding base for the prizes and the
administrative activities. The Nobel Foundation is exempt from
all taxes in Sweden (since 1946) and from investment taxes in
the United States (since 1953).[33] Since the 1980s, the
Foundation's investments have become more profitable and as of
31 December 2007, the assets controlled by the Nobel
Foundation amounted to 3.628 billion Swedish kronor (c.
US$560 million).[34]

According to the statutes, the Foundation consists of a board of


five Swedish or Norwegian citizens, with its seat in Stockholm.
The Chairman of the Board is appointed by the Swedish King in
Council, with the other four members appointed by the trustees
of the prize-awarding institutions. An Executive Director is
chosen from among the board members, a Deputy Director is
appointed by the King in Council, and two deputies are
appointed by the trustees. However, since 1995, all the members
of the board have been chosen by the trustees, and the Executive
Director and the Deputy Director appointed by the board itself.
As well as the board, the Nobel Foundation is made up of the
prize-awarding institutions (the Royal Swedish Academy of
Sciences, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute, the
Swedish Academy, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee), the
trustees of these institutions, and auditors.[34]

Foundation capital and cost


The capital of the Nobel Foundation today is invested 50 % in
shares, 20 % bonds and 30 % other investments (e.g. hedge
funds or real estate). The distribution can vary by 10
percent.[35] At the beginning of 2008, 64 % of the funds were
invested mainly in American and European stocks, 20 % in
bonds, plus 12% in real estate and hedge funds.[36]

In 2011, the total annual cost was approximately 120 million


krona, with 50 million krona as the prize money. Further costs to
pay institutions and persons engaged in giving the prizes were
27,4 million krona. The events during the Nobel week in
Stockholm and Oslo cost 20,2 million krona. The
administration, Nobel symposium, and similar items had costs of
22.4 million krona. The cost of the Economic Sciences prize of
16.5 Million krona is paid by the Sveriges Riksbank.[35]

First prizes
A black and white photo of a bearded man in his fifties sitting in
a chair.
Wilhelm Röntgen received the first Physics Prize for his
discovery of X-rays.
Once the Nobel Foundation and its guidelines were in place, the
Nobel Committees began collecting nominations for the
inaugural prizes. Subsequently, they sent a list of preliminary
candidates to the prize-awarding institutions.

The Nobel Committee's Physics Prize shortlist cited Wilhelm


Röntgen's discovery of X-rays and Philipp Lenard's work on
cathode rays. The Academy of Sciences selected Röntgen for the
prize.[37][38] In the last decades of the 19th century, many
chemists had made significant contributions. Thus, with the
Chemistry Prize, the Academy "was chiefly faced with merely
deciding the order in which these scientists should be awarded
the prize".[39] The Academy received 20 nominations, eleven of
them for Jacobus van 't Hoff.[40] Van 't Hoff was awarded the
prize for his contributions in chemical thermodynamics.[41][42]

The Swedish Academy chose the poet Sully Prudhomme for the
first Nobel Prize in Literature. A group including 42 Swedish
writers, artists, and literary critics protested against this decision,
having expected Leo Tolstoy to be awarded.[43] Some,
including Burton Feldman, have criticised this prize because
they consider Prudhomme a mediocre poet. Feldman's
explanation is that most of the Academy members preferred
Victorian literature and thus selected a Victorian poet.[44] The
first Physiology or Medicine Prize went to the German
physiologist and microbiologist Emil von Behring. During the
1890s, von Behring developed an antitoxin to treat diphtheria,
which until then was causing thousands of deaths each
year.[45][46]

The first Nobel Peace Prize went to the Swiss Jean Henri
Dunant for his role in founding the International Red Cross
Movement and initiating the Geneva Convention, and jointly
given to French pacifist Frédéric Passy, founder of the Peace
League and active with Dunant in the Alliance for Order and
Civilization.

Second World War


In 1938 and 1939, Adolf Hitler's Third Reich forbade three
laureates from Germany (Richard Kuhn, Adolf Friedrich Johann
Butenandt, and Gerhard Domagk) from accepting their
prizes.[47] Each man was later able to receive the diploma and
medal.[48] Even though Sweden was officially neutral during
the Second World War, the prizes were awarded irregularly. In
1939, the Peace Prize was not awarded. No prize was awarded
in any category from 1940 to 1942, due to the occupation of
Norway by Germany. In the subsequent year, all prizes were
awarded except those for literature and peace.[49]

During the occupation of Norway, three members of the


Norwegian Nobel Committee fled into exile. The remaining
members escaped persecution from the Germans when the
Nobel Foundation stated that the Committee building in Oslo
was Swedish property. Thus it was a safe haven from the
German military, which was not at war with Sweden.[50] These
members kept the work of the Committee going, but did not
award any prizes. In 1944, the Nobel Foundation, together with
the three members in exile, made sure that nominations were
submitted for the Peace Prize and that the prize could be
awarded once again.[47]

Prize in Economic Sciences


Main article: Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Map of Nobel laureates by country


In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) celebrated
its 300th anniversary by donating a large sum of money to the
Nobel Foundation to be used to set up a prize in honor of Nobel.
The following year, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic
Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded for the first
time. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences became
responsible for selecting laureates. The first laureates for the
Economics Prize were Jan Tinbergen and Ragnar Frisch "for
having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis
of economic processes".[51][52] The Board of the Nobel
Foundation decided that after this addition, it would allow no
further new prizes.[53]

Award process
The award process is similar for all of the Nobel Prizes; the
main difference is in who can make nominations for each of
them.[54]

File:Announcement Nobelprize Chemistry 2009-3.ogv


The announcement of the laureates in Nobel Prize in Chemistry
2009 by Gunnar Öquist, permanent secretary of the Royal
Swedish Academy of Sciences
File:Announcement Nobelprize Literature 2009-1.ogv
2009 Nobel Prize in Literature announcement by Peter Englund
in Swedish, English, and German
Nominations
Nomination forms are sent by the Nobel Committee to about
3,000 individuals, usually in September the year before the
prizes are awarded. These individuals are generally prominent
academics working in a relevant area. Regarding the Peace
Prize, inquiries are also sent to governments, former Peace Prize
laureates, and current or former members of the Norwegian
Nobel Committee. The deadline for the return of the nomination
forms is 31 January of the year of the award.[54][55] The Nobel
Committee nominates about 300 potential laureates from these
forms and additional names.[56] The nominees are not publicly
named, nor are they told that they are being considered for the
prize. All nomination records for a prize are sealed for 50 years
from the awarding of the prize.[57][58]

Selection
The Nobel Committee then prepares a report reflecting the
advice of experts in the relevant fields. This, along with the list
of preliminary candidates, is submitted to the prize-awarding
institutions.[59] The institutions meet to choose the laureate or
laureates in each field by a majority vote. Their decision, which
cannot be appealed, is announced immediately after the
vote.[60] A maximum of three laureates and two different works
may be selected per award. Except for the Peace Prize, which
can be awarded to institutions, the awards can only be given to
individuals.[61]
Posthumous nominations
Although posthumous nominations are not presently permitted,
individuals who died in the months between their nomination
and the decision of the prize committee were originally eligible
to receive the prize. This has occurred twice: the 1931 Literature
Prize awarded to Erik Axel Karlfeldt, and the 1961 Peace Prize
awarded to UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld. Since
1974, laureates must be thought alive at the time of the October
announcement. There has been one laureate, William Vickrey,
who in 1996 died after the prize (in Economics) was announced
but before it could be presented.[62] On 3 October 2011, the
laureates for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine were
announced; however, the committee was not aware that one of
the laureates, Ralph M. Steinman, had died three days earlier.
The committee was debating about Steinman's prize, since the
rule is that the prize is not awarded posthumously.[14] The
committee later decided that as the decision to award Steinman
the prize "was made in good faith", it would remain
unchanged.[63]

Recognition time lag


Nobel's will provided for prizes to be awarded in recognition of
discoveries made "during the preceding year". Early on, the
awards usually recognised recent discoveries.[64] However,
some of those early discoveries were later discredited. For
example, Johannes Fibiger was awarded the 1926 Prize in
Physiology or Medicine for his purported discovery of a parasite
that caused cancer.[65] To avoid repeating this embarrassment,
the awards increasingly recognised scientific discoveries that
had withstood the test of time.[66][67][68] According to Ralf
Pettersson, former chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee for
Physiology or Medicine, "the criterion 'the previous year' is
interpreted by the Nobel Assembly as the year when the full
impact of the discovery has become evident."[67]

A room with pictures on the walls. In the middle of the room


there is a wooden table with chairs around it.
The committee room of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
The interval between the award and the accomplishment it
recognises varies from discipline to discipline. The Literature
Prize is typically awarded to recognise a cumulative lifetime
body of work rather than a single achievement.[69][70] The
Peace Prize can also be awarded for a lifetime body of work. For
example, 2008 laureate Martti Ahtisaari was awarded for his
work to resolve international conflicts.[71][72] However, they
can also be awarded for specific recent events.[73] For instance,
Kofi Annan was awarded the 2001 Peace Prize just four years
after becoming the Secretary-General of the United Nations.[74]
Similarly Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres
received the 1994 award, about a year after they successfully
concluded the Oslo Accords.[75]

Awards for physics, chemistry, and medicine are typically


awarded once the achievement has been widely accepted.
Sometimes, this takes decades – for example, Subrahmanyan
Chandrasekhar shared the 1983 Physics Prize for his 1930s work
on stellar structure and evolution.[76][77] Not all scientists live
long enough for their work to be recognised. Some discoveries
can never be considered for a prize if their impact is realised
after the discoverers have died.[78][79][80]

Award ceremonies
Two men standing on a stage. The man to the left is clapping his
hands and looking towards the other man. The second man is
smiling and showing two items to an audience not seen on the
image. The items are a diploma which includes a painting and a
box containing a gold medal. Behind them is a blue pillar clad in
flowers.
A man in his fifties standing behind a desk with computers on it.
On the desk is a sign reading "Kungl. Vetensk. Akad. Sigil".
Left: Barack Obama after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in
Oslo City Hall from the hands of Norwegian Nobel Committee
Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland in 2009; Right: Giovanni Jona-
Lasinio presenting Yoichiro Nambu's Nobel Lecture at Aula
Magna, Stockholm in 2008
Except for the Peace Prize, the Nobel Prizes are presented in
Stockholm, Sweden, at the annual Prize Award Ceremony on 10
December, the anniversary of Nobel's death. The recipients'
lectures are normally held in the days prior to the award
ceremony. The Peace Prize and its recipients' lectures are
presented at the annual Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo,
Norway, usually on 10 December. The award ceremonies and
the associated banquets are typically major international
events.[81][82] The Prizes awarded in Sweden's ceremonies' are
held at the Stockholm Concert Hall, with the Nobel banquet
following immediately at Stockholm City Hall. The Nobel Peace
Prize ceremony has been held at the Norwegian Nobel Institute
(1905–1946), at the auditorium of the University of Oslo (1947–
1989), and at Oslo City Hall (1990–present).[83]

The highlight of the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm


occurs when each Nobel laureate steps forward to receive the
prize from the hands of the King of Sweden. In Oslo, the
Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the
Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of
Norway.[82][84] At first, King Oscar II did not approve of
awarding grand prizes to foreigners. It is said that he changed
his mind once his attention had been drawn to the publicity
value of the prizes for Sweden.[85]
Nobel Banquet
Main article: Nobel Banquet
A set table with a white table cloth. There are many plates and
glasses plus a menu visible on the table.
Table at the 2005 Nobel Banquet in Stockholm
After the award ceremony in Sweden, a banquet is held in the
Blue Hall at the Stockholm City Hall, which is attended by the
Swedish Royal Family and around 1,300 guests.

The Nobel Peace Prize banquet is held in Norway at the Oslo


Grand Hotel after the award ceremony. Apart from the laureate,
guests include the President of the Storting, the Swedish prime
minister, and, since 2006, the King and Queen of Norway. In
total, about 250 guests attend.

Nobel lecture
According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, each laureate
is required to give a public lecture on a subject related to the
topic of their prize.[86] The Nobel lecture as a rhetorical genre
took decades to reach its current format.[87] These lectures
normally occur during Nobel Week (the week leading up to the
award ceremony and banquet, which begins with the laureates
arriving in Stockholm and normally ends with the Nobel
banquet), but this is not mandatory. The laureate is only obliged
to give the lecture within six months of receiving the prize.
Some have happened even later. For example, US President
Theodore Roosevelt received the Peace Prize in 1906 but gave
his lecture in 1910, after his term in office.[88] The lectures are
organized by the same association which selected the
laureates.[89]

Prizes
Medals
It was announced on 30 May 2012 that the Nobel Foundation
had awarded the contract for the production of the five
(Swedish) Nobel Prize medals to Svenska Medalj AB. Formerly,
the Nobel Prize medals were minted by Myntverket (the
Swedish Mint) from 1902 to 2010. Myntverket, Sweden's oldest
company, ceased operations in 2011 after 1,017 years. In 2011,
the Mint of Norway, located in Kongsberg, made the medals.
The Nobel Prize medals are registered trademarks of the Nobel
Foundation.[90] Each medal features an image of Alfred Nobel
in left profile on the obverse. The medals for physics, chemistry,
physiology or medicine, and literature have identical obverses,
showing the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth
and death. Nobel's portrait also appears on the obverse of the
Peace Prize medal and the medal for the Economics Prize, but
with a slightly different design. For instance, the laureate's name
is engraved on the rim of the Economics medal.[91] The image
on the reverse of a medal varies according to the institution
awarding the prize. The reverse sides of the medals for
chemistry and physics share the same design.[92]

A heavily decorated paper with the name "Fritz Haber" on it.


Laureates receive a heavily decorated diploma together with a
gold medal and the prize money. Here Fritz Haber's diploma is
shown, which he received for the development of a method to
synthesise ammonia.
All medals made before 1980 were struck in 23 carat gold. Since
then, they have been struck in 18 carat green gold plated with 24
carat gold. The weight of each medal varies with the value of
gold, but averages about 175 grams (0.386 lb) for each medal.
The diameter is 66 millimetres (2.6 in) and the thickness varies
between 5.2 millimetres (0.20 in) and 2.4 millimetres (0.094
in).[93] Because of the high value of their gold content and
tendency to be on public display, Nobel medals are subject to
medal theft.[94][95][96] During World War II, the medals of
German scientists Max von Laue and James Franck were sent to
Copenhagen for safekeeping. When Germany invaded Denmark,
Hungarian chemist (and Nobel laureate himself) George de
Hevesy dissolved them in aqua regia (nitro-hydrochloric acid),
to prevent confiscation by Nazi Germany and to prevent legal
problems for the holders. After the war, the gold was recovered
from solution, and the medals re-cast.[97]

Diplomas
Nobel laureates receive a diploma directly from the hands of the
King of Sweden, or in the case of the peace prize, the Chairman
of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Each diploma is uniquely
designed by the prize-awarding institutions for the laureates that
receive them.[91] The diploma contains a picture and text in
Swedish which states the name of the laureate and normally a
citation of why they received the prize. None of the Nobel Peace
Prize laureates has ever had a citation on their diplomas.[98][99]

Award money
The laureates are given a sum of money when they receive their
prizes, in the form of a document confirming the amount
awarded.[91] The amount of prize money depends upon how
much money the Nobel Foundation can award each year. The
purse has increased since the 1980s, when the prize money was
880,000 SEK per prize (c. 2.6 million SEK altogether,
US$350,000 today). In 2009, the monetary award was 10
million SEK (US$1.4 million).[100][101] In June 2012, it was
lowered to 8 million SEK.[102] If there are two laureates in a
particular category, the award grant is divided equally between
the recipients. If there are three, the awarding committee has the
option of dividing the grant equally, or awarding one-half to one
recipient and one-quarter to each of the others.[103][104][105]
It is common for recipients to donate prize money to benefit
scientific, cultural, or humanitarian causes.[106][107]

Controversies and criticisms


Main article: Nobel Prize controversies
Controversial recipients

When it was announced that Henry Kissinger was to be awarded


the Peace Prize, two of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
members resigned in protest.
Among other criticisms, the Nobel Committees have been
accused of having a political agenda, and of omitting more
deserving candidates. They have also been accused of
Eurocentrism, especially for the Literature
Prize.[108][109][110]

Peace Prize
Among the most criticised Nobel Peace Prizes was the one
awarded to Henry Kissinger and Lê Đức Thọ. This led to the
resignation of two Norwegian Nobel Committee members.[111]
Kissinger and Thọ were awarded the prize for negotiating a
ceasefire between North Vietnam and the United States in
January 1973. However, when the award was announced, both
sides were still engaging in hostilities.[112] Critics sympathetic
to the North announced that Kissinger was not a peace-maker
but the opposite, responsible for widening the war. Those hostile
to the North and what they considered its deceptive practices
during negotiations were deprived of a chance to criticise Lê
Đức Thọ, as he declined the award. [57][113]

Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin received the


Peace Prize in 1994 for their efforts in making peace between
Israel and Palestine.[57][114] Immediately after the award was
announced, one of the five Norwegian Nobel Committee
members denounced Arafat as a terrorist and resigned.[115]
Additional misgivings about Arafat were widely expressed in
various newspapers.[116]

Another controversial Peace Prize was that awarded to Barack


Obama in 2009.[117] Nominations had closed only eleven days
after Obama took office as President of the United States, but
the actual evaluation occurred over the next eight months.[118]
Obama himself stated that he did not feel deserving of the
award,[119] or worthy of the company it would place him
in.[120] Past Peace Prize laureates were divided, some saying
that Obama deserved the award, and others saying he had not
secured the achievements to yet merit such an accolade.
Obama's award, along with the previous Peace Prizes for Jimmy
Carter and Al Gore, also prompted accusations of a left-wing
bias.[121]

Literature Prize
The award of the 2004 Literature Prize to Elfriede Jelinek drew
a protest from a member of the Swedish Academy, Knut
Ahnlund. Ahnlund resigned, alleging that the selection of
Jelinek had caused "irreparable damage to all progressive forces,
it has also confused the general view of literature as an art". He
alleged that Jelinek's works were "a mass of text shovelled
together without artistic structure".[122][123] The 2009
Literature Prize to Herta Müller also generated criticism.
According to The Washington Post, many US literary critics and
professors were ignorant of her work.[124] This made those
critics feel the prizes were too Eurocentric.[125]

Science prizes
In 1949, the neurologist António Egas Moniz received the
Physiology or Medicine Prize for his development of the
prefrontal leucotomy. The previous year, Dr. Walter Freeman
had developed a version of the procedure which was faster and
easier to carry out. Due in part to the publicity surrounding the
original procedure, Freeman's procedure was prescribed without
due consideration or regard for modern medical ethics. Endorsed
by such influential publications as The New England Journal of
Medicine, leucotomy or "lobotomy" became so popular that
about 5,000 lobotomies were performed in the United States in
the three years immediately following Moniz's receipt of the
Prize.[126][127]

Overlooked achievements

The Norwegian Nobel Committee declined to award a prize in


1948, the year of Gandhi's death, on the grounds that "there was
no suitable living candidate."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee confirmed that Mahatma
Gandhi was nominated for the Peace Prize in 1937–39, 1947,
and a few days before he was assassinated in January 1948.[128]
Later, members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed
regret that he was not given the prize.[129] Geir Lundestad,
Secretary of Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2006, said, "The
greatest omission in our 106 year history is undoubtedly that
Mahatma Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace prize. Gandhi
could do without the Nobel Peace prize. Whether Nobel
committee can do without Gandhi is the question".[130] In
1948, the year of Gandhi's death, the Nobel Committee declined
to award a prize on the grounds that "there was no suitable
living candidate" that year.[129][131] Later, when the 14th
Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman
of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the
memory of Mahatma Gandhi".[132] Other high-profile
individuals with widely recognised contributions to peace have
been missed out. Foreign Policy lists Eleanor Roosevelt, Václav
Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Sari Nusseibeh, and Corazon Aquino as
people who "never won the prize, but should have".[133]

In 1965, UN Secretary General U Thant was informed by the


Norwegian Permanent Representative to the UN that he would
be awarded that year's prize and asked whether or not he would
accept. He consulted staff and later replied that he would. At the
same time, Chairman Gunnar Jahn of the Nobel Peace prize
committee, lobbied heavily against giving U Thant the prize and
the prize was at the last minute awarded to UNICEF. The rest of
the committee all wanted the prize to go to U Thant, for his
work in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis, ending the war in the
Congo, and his ongoing work to mediate an end to the Vietnam
War. The disagreement lasted three years and in 1966 and 1967
no prize was given, with Gunnar Jahn effectively vetoing an
award to U Thant.[134][135]
James Joyce, one of the controversial omissions of the Literature
Prize
The Literature Prize also has controversial omissions. Adam
Kirsch has suggested that many notable writers have missed out
on the award for political or extra-literary reasons. The heavy
focus on European and Swedish authors has been a subject of
criticism.[136][137] The Eurocentric nature of the award was
acknowledged by Peter Englund, the 2009 Permanent Secretary
of the Swedish Academy, as a problem with the award and was
attributed to the tendency for the academy to relate more to
European authors.[138] This tendency towards European
authors still leaves some European writers on a list of notable
writers that have been overlooked for the Literature Prize,
including Europe's Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, J. R. R.
Tolkien, Émile Zola, Marcel Proust, Vladimir Nabokov, James
Joyce, August Strindberg, Simon Vestdijk, Karel Čapek, the
New World's Jorge Luis Borges, Ezra Pound, John Updike,
Arthur Miller, Mark Twain, and Africa's Chinua Achebe.[139]

Candidates can receive multiple nominations the same year.


Gaston Ramon received a total of 155[140] nominations in
physiology or medicine from 1930 to 1953, the last year with
public nomination data for that award as of 2016. He died in
1963 without being awarded. Pierre Paul Émile Roux received
115[141] nominations in physiology or medicine, and Arnold
Sommerfeld received 84[142] in physics. These are the three
most nominated scientists without awards in the data published
as of 2016.[143] Otto Stern received 79[144] nominations in
physics 1925–43 before being awarded in 1943.[145]

The strict rule against awarding a prize to more than three


people is also controversial.[146] When a prize is awarded to
recognise an achievement by a team of more than three
collaborators, one or more will miss out. For example, in 2002,
the prize was awarded to Koichi Tanaka and John Fenn for the
development of mass spectrometry in protein chemistry, an
award that did not recognise the achievements of Franz
Hillenkamp and Michael Karas of the Institute for Physical and
Theoretical Chemistry at the University of Frankfurt.[147][148]
According to one of the nominees for the prize in physics, the
three person limit deprived him and two other members of his
team of the honor in 2013: the team of Carl Hagen, Gerald
Guralnik, and Tom Kibble published a paper in 1964 that gave
answers to how the cosmos began, but did not share the 2013
Physics Prize awarded to Peter Higgs and François Englert, who
had also published papers in 1964 concerning the subject. All
five physicists arrived at the same conclusion, albeit from
different angles. Hagen contends that an equitable solution is to
either abandon the three limit restriction, or expand the time
period of recognition for a given achievement to two years.[149]
Similarly, the prohibition of posthumous awards fails to
recognise achievements by an individual or collaborator who
dies before the prize is awarded. The Economics Prize was not
awarded to Fischer Black, who died in 1995, when his co-author
Myron Scholes received the honor in 1997 for their landmark
work on option pricing along with Robert C. Merton, another
pioneer in the development of valuation of stock options. In the
announcement of the award that year, the Nobel committee
prominently mentioned Black's key role.

Political subterfuge may also deny proper recognition. Lise


Meitner and Fritz Strassmann, who co-discovered nuclear
fission along with Otto Hahn, may have been denied a share of
Hahn's 1944 Nobel Chemistry Award due to having fled
Germany when the Nazis came to power.[150] The Meitner and
Strassmann roles in the research was not fully recognised until
years later, when they joined Hahn in receiving the 1966 Enrico
Fermi Award.

Emphasis on discoveries over inventions


Alfred Nobel left his fortune to finance annual prizes to be
awarded "to those who, during the preceding year, shall have
conferred the greatest benefit on mankind".[151] He stated that
the Nobel Prizes in Physics should be given "to the person who
shall have made the most important 'discovery' or 'invention'
within the field of physics". Nobel did not emphasise
discoveries, but they have historically been held in higher
respect by the Nobel Prize Committee than inventions: 77% of
the Physics Prizes have been given to discoveries, compared
with only 23% to inventions. Christoph Bartneck and Matthias
Rauterberg, in papers published in Nature and Technoetic Arts,
have argued this emphasis on discoveries has moved the Nobel
Prize away from its original intention of rewarding the greatest
contribution to society.[152][153]

Gender disparity
In terms of the most prestigious awards in STEM fields, only a
small proportion have been awarded to women. Out of 210
laureates in Physics, 181 in Chemistry and 216 in Medicine
between 1901 and 2018, there were only three female laureates
in physics, five in chemistry and 12 in medicine.[154][155]
[156] [157]

Specially distinguished laureates


Multiple laureates
A black and white portrait of a woman in profile.
Marie Curie, one of four people who have received the Nobel
Prize twice (Physics and Chemistry)
Four people have received two Nobel Prizes. Marie Curie
received the Physics Prize in 1903 for her work on radioactivity
and the Chemistry Prize in 1911 for the isolation of pure
radium,[158] making her the only person to be awarded a Nobel
Prize in two different sciences. Linus Pauling was awarded the
1954 Chemistry Prize for his research into the chemical bond
and its application to the structure of complex substances.
Pauling was also awarded the Peace Prize in 1962 for his
activism against nuclear weapons, making him the only laureate
of two unshared prizes. John Bardeen received the Physics Prize
twice: in 1956 for the invention of the transistor and in 1972 for
the theory of superconductivity.[159] Frederick Sanger received
the prize twice in Chemistry: in 1958 for determining the
structure of the insulin molecule and in 1980 for inventing a
method of determining base sequences in DNA.[160][161]

Two organizations have received the Peace Prize multiple times.


The International Committee of the Red Cross received it three
times: in 1917 and 1944 for its work during the world wars; and
in 1963 during the year of its centenary.[162][163][164] The
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been
awarded the Peace Prize twice for assisting refugees: in 1954
and 1981.[165]

Family laureates
The Curie family has received the most prizes, with four prizes
awarded to five individual laureates. Marie Curie received the
prizes in Physics (in 1903) and Chemistry (in 1911). Her
husband, Pierre Curie, shared the 1903 Physics prize with
her.[166] Their daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, received the
Chemistry Prize in 1935 together with her husband Frédéric
Joliot-Curie. In addition, the husband of Marie Curie's second
daughter, Henry Labouisse, was the director of UNICEF when
he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 on that organisation's
behalf.[167]

Although no family matches the Curie family's record, there


have been several with two laureates. The husband-and-wife
team of Gerty Cori and Carl Ferdinand Cori shared the 1947
Prize in Physiology or Medicine[168] as did the husband-and-
wife team of May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser in 2014 (along
with John O'Keefe).[169] J. J. Thomson was awarded the
Physics Prize in 1906 for showing that electrons are particles.
His son, George Paget Thomson, received the same prize in
1937 for showing that they also have the properties of
waves.[170] William Henry Bragg and his son, William
Lawrence Bragg, shared the Physics Prize in 1915 for inventing
the X-ray spectrometer.[171] Niels Bohr was awarded the
Physics prize in 1922, as was his son, Aage Bohr, in
1975.[167][172] Manne Siegbahn, who received the Physics
Prize in 1924, was the father of Kai Siegbahn, who received the
Physics Prize in 1981.[167][173] Hans von Euler-Chelpin, who
received the Chemistry Prize in 1929, was the father of Ulf von
Euler, who was awarded the Physiology or Medicine Prize in
1970.[167] C. V. Raman was awarded the Physics Prize in 1930
and was the uncle of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who was
awarded the same prize in 1983.[174][175] Arthur Kornberg
received the Physiology or Medicine Prize in 1959; Kornberg's
son, Roger later received the Chemistry Prize in 2006.[176] Jan
Tinbergen, who was awarded the first Economics Prize in 1969,
was the brother of Nikolaas Tinbergen, who received the 1973
Physiology or Medicine Prize.[167] Alva Myrdal, Peace Prize
laureate in 1982, was the wife of Gunnar Myrdal who was
awarded the Economics Prize in 1974.[167] Economics
laureates Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow were brothers-in-
law. Frits Zernike, who was awarded the 1953 Physics Prize, is
the great-uncle of 1999 Physics laureate Gerard 't Hooft.[177]

Cultural impact
Being a symbol of scientific or literary achievement that is
recognisable worldwide, the Nobel Prize is often depicted in
fiction. This includes films like The Prize and Nobel Son about
fictional Nobel laureates as well as fictionalised accounts of
stories surrounding real prizes such as Nobel Chor, a film based
on the unsolved theft of Rabindranath Tagore's prize.[178][179]
Refusals and constraints
A black and white portrait of a man in a suit and tie. Half of his
face is in a shadow.
Richard Kuhn, who was forced to decline his Nobel Prize in
Chemistry
Two laureates have voluntarily declined the Nobel Prize. In
1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Literature Prize but
refused, stating, "A writer must refuse to allow himself to be
transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most
honourable form."[180] Lê Đức Thọ, chosen for the 1973 Peace
Prize for his role in the Paris Peace Accords, declined, stating
that there was no actual peace in Vietnam.[181]

During the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler hindered Richard Kuhn,


Adolf Butenandt, and Gerhard Domagk from accepting their
prizes. All of them were awarded their diplomas and gold
medals after World War II. In 1958, Boris Pasternak declined
his prize for literature due to fear of what the Soviet Union
government might do if he travelled to Stockholm to accept his
prize. In return, the Swedish Academy refused his refusal,
saying "this refusal, of course, in no way alters the validity of
the award."[181] The Academy announced with regret that the
presentation of the Literature Prize could not take place that
year, holding it back until 1989 when Pasternak's son accepted
the prize on his behalf.[182][183] Aung San Suu Kyi was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but her children
accepted the prize because she had been placed under house
arrest in Burma; Suu Kyi delivered her speech two decades later,
in 2012.[184] Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in
2010 while he and his wife were under house arrest in China as
political prisoners, and he was unable to accept the prize in his
lifetime.

Legacy
The memorial symbol "Planet of Alfred Nobel" was opened in
Dnipropetrovsk University of Economics and Law in 2008. On
the globe, there are 802 Nobel laureates' reliefs made of a
composite alloy obtained when disposing of military strategic
missiles.[185][186]

See also
Portal-puzzle.svg Nobel Prize portal
List of Nobel laureates
List of Nobel laureates by country
List of Nobel laureates by Secondary School affiliation
Fields Medal
List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation
List of female Nobel laureates
List of science and technology awards
Nobel Conference
Nobel Library
Nobel Museum
Nobel Prize effect
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
Ig Nobel Prize
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