Nobel Prize and Nobel Foundation

Nobel Prize and Nobel Foundation

In 1888, Alfred Nobel (Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist) was astonished to read his own obituary, titled the merchant of death is dead, in a French newspaper. It was Alfred’s brother Ludvig who had died. The article disconcerted Nobel and made him apprehensive about how he would be remembered. This inspired him to change his will.

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 in 1895.


For the distribution of Nobel Prize, 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. Another important task of the Nobel Foundation is to market the internationally and to oversee informal administration related to the prizes. However, The Foundation is not involved in the process of selecting the Nobel laureates. The capital of the Nobel Foundation today is invested 50% in shares, 20% bonds and 30% other investments.

Nobel Prize was first awarded in 1901. The prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards available in their respective field, awarded by Sweden (all prizes except the Peace Prize) & Norway (Peace Prize only). The prize is not awarded posthumously (after death) however, if a person is awarded a prize and dies before receiving it, the prize may still be presented. From 1901,  Noble prize were given regularly but 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. In 1968, Sweden’s central bank Sveriges Riksbank celebrated its 300th anniversary by donating a large sum of money to the Nobel Foundation to be used to set up a prize in honour of Alfred Nobel. The following year, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded for the first time.

Nobel Prize and Nobel Foundation

In this prize, winner received Money  US$1,110,000 & Medal of 18 carat Gold with 24 carat coating. 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.

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. 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. 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.

The criterion ‘the previous year’ is interpreted by the Nobel Assembly as the year when the full impact of the discovery has become evident. 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 with William Alfred Fowler for his 1930s work on stellar structure and evolution.

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.

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. It is common for recipients to donate prize money to benefit scientific, cultural, or humanitarian causes.

Like everything, Nobel Prize distribution is also related to many controversies.Among the most criticised Nobel Peace Prizes was the one awarded to Henry Kissinger. 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.

Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin received the Peace Prize in 1994 for their efforts in making peace between Israel and Palestine. Immediately after the award was announced, one of the five Norwegian Nobel Committee members denounced Arafat as a terrorist and resigned.

Another controversial Peace Prize was that awarded to Barack Obama in 2009. 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. Obama himself stated that he did not feel deserving of the award. 

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. Later, members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed regret that he was not given the prize.

 the Physics Prizes have been given to discoveries, compared with only 23% to inventions. 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.


Despite these factors, Marie Curie is to date the only person awarded Nobel Prizes in two different sciences (Physics in 1903, Chemistry in 1911); she is one of only three people who have received two Nobel Prizes in sciences. Till now, Four people have received two Nobel Prizes. The Curie family has received the most prizes, with four prizes awarded to five individual laureates.


Two laureates have voluntarily declined the Nobel Prize.

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.

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. 


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.

In recent times, the science & technology is evolving in different ways & one of the most important controversy that Nobel Foundation has that it does not includes anything like computer science, internet and many other modern technology, which impact the human being in much better way.


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