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TITLE 'Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes.Fact Sheets on Sweden. INSTITUTION Swedish Inst., Stockholm. PUB DATE Aug 84 NOTE AVAILABLE FROMSwedish Institute, P.O. Box 7434, S-103 91, Stockholm, Sweden (free). PUB TYPE Viewpoints (120)
EDRS PRICE MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. DESCRIPTORS *Awards; Biographies; Chemistry; Economics; *European History; Global Approach; Literature; Medicine; Peace; Personality; Physics; Physiology IDENTIFIERS Fact Sheets; *Nobel (Alfred); *Nobel Prizes; Sweden
ABSTRACT The life and personality of Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes established by his willare discussed. Nobel was a 19th century Swedish industrialist who was fluent in sixlanguages. He invented dynamite. At his death in 1896, hisestate amounted to $9,200,000. His will stipulated that the income from hisestate should be divided annually into five equal partsand distributed as prizes to those who during the precedingyear had conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The fields embraced by the prizes reflect Nobel's personal interests: physics, chemistry,physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. The Nobel Foundationwas organized as legatee and administrator of the Nobel fund capital, while the various bodies named in the will agreedto award the prizes. The Bank of Sweden, at its tercentenary in 1968, instituteda Prize in Economic Sciences, pledging an, annual amount tothe Nobel Foundation equal to one of the regular Nobel Prizes. Candidatesfor the Nobel Prizes must be proposed by qualified individualsor groups. Special committees examine the proposals andannounce the winners in mid-October of each year. Presentation ceremoniesare held in Sweden and in Norway in December. (RM)
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ALFRED NOBEL AND TUE NOBEL PRIZES
\S- Swedish Institute
P.O. Box 7434 .e S-103 91, Stockholm Sweden
s. Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes
Alfred Nobel, nineteenth-century Swed- languages he knew. What he meant by ish industrialist and creator of the prizes the stipulation in his will of an "idealistic that bear his name, was the inventor of tendency" is shown by the books and dynamite. This explosive has played and authors he liked best. At the very time continues to play an important role in he composed his final will in 1895, he the industrial development of the world. wrote enthusiastic letters about authors. The use of dynamite has increased the among them Sweden's Selma Lagerlof, supply of iron ore and other minerals who in1969 was to become thefirst needed for the increased construction of woman to receive the Prize in Literature. machines, locomotives, railroad cars and Nobel's award for peace workers was motor vehizles. It has also facilitated the just as personally motivated. His special construction of railroads and highways recommendation of "organizers and pro- across the continents and thereby allowed moters of peace congresses" shows that mass distribution M goods. Through his he had in mind his friend Baroness Bertha invention, Nobel was thus a benefactor von Suttner of Austria, whose peace con- of mankind, just as he stipulated that gresses in Rome and Berne he had sup- tht winners of the prizes estal tickled by ported financially. While he had been his will should be. concerned about the peace problem long before he ever met her, she undoubtedly stimulated his interest in itstill further. Life and Personality In 1905 Baroness von Suttner won the Born in Stockholm in 1833 of Swedish Peace Prize. parent., Nobel moved with his family to A question often asked is, "Why was St. 7etersburg, then the capital of Russia, NorwaypickedtoawardthePeace 1`. whrn he was only nine. He lived in P:ize?" Nobel himself gave no reason. several countries after that and ultimately It should be remembered, however, that come to regard himself as a citizen of the during his lifetime, Sweden and Norway word. Even so, he never gave up his were still joined ina union; this was Swedish citizenship. peacefully dissolved in 1905. When Nobel By virtue of the education he received drew up his will, it may have been only in many countries, Nobel read, spoke and natural for him to divide the prize-award- wrote fluently in six European languages: ing responsibilities between the two parts Swedish, French, English, German, Ital- of his homeland. A contributing reason ian and Russian. His numerous hand- may also have been his admiration for written letters demonstrate his remark- the great Norwegian writer and patriot able proficiency in all of them. He per- Bjornstierne Bjimnson, winner ofthe fected his French when sent to Paris by Prize in Literature in 1903. his father in his late teens to study chem- The selection of Peace Prize winners istry. His letters in French are particu- was entrusted to a committee appointed larly elegant. Those in English sometimes by the Storting, or Norwegian Parliament. bear traces of the early nineteenth-centu- As a member of the Royal Swedish Acad- ry style ienerally associated with Byron emy of Sciences inStockholm, Nobel and Shelley (his two favorite poets) and thought it the appropriate body for the FIN - are remarkably free of grammatical and selectionoflaureatesinphysics and idiomatic errors. To his mother he always chemistry. Selection of winners of the LAND wrote in Swedish, which is also the lan- PrizeinPhysiology or Medicine was guage of the will he composed in Paris. delegatedtoKarolinskaInstitutetin The fields embraced by the prizes stip- Stockholm, on which he had heard good ulated by the will reflect Nobel's personal reports. As for the Swedish Academy. interests. While he provided no prizes for which he put in charge of the Prize in architects,artists, composers or social Literature, Nobel may not have been so scientists, he was generous to those work- familiar with it, but he undoubtedly as- ing in physics, chemistry, physiology and sumed that as a counterpart of the French medicinethe subjects he knew best him- Academy it was best qualified for the self, and in which he expected the greatest difficult task of selecting the laureates in advances. literature. Throughout his life he suffered from poor health and often took cures at wa- tering places, "less to drink the water The Nobel Prizes than to rest." But he expected great im- Experience had taught Nobel to dislike provements in medicine, and the profes- and distrust lawyers, and late in 1895 he sion has since realized many of them. made out his final will without any pro- Once he employed a young Swedish fessional advice or assistance. This will. physiologistinParistotesthis own which replaced two previous ones made theories on blood transfusions. Although in 1889 and 1893, stipulated that the in- these efforts were not successful, prob- come from his estate, which on his death lems related to transfusions were later in 1896 amounted to $9,200,000, should solved by an Austrian, Karl Landsteiner, be divided annually into five equal parts who won the 1930 Nobel Prize in Phy- and distributed "in the form of prizes to siology or Medicine. those who during the preceding year have The Nobel Prize in Literature, too, re- conferred the greatest benefit on man- flects the donor's personal predilections. kind." He prescribedthattheprizes From his early youth he had been a writ- should be distributed as follows: er as well as an avid reader, but he later "One part to the person or persons who destroyed many of his adolescent poems shall have made the most important ills- writteninSwedish. He did, however, covery or invention in the field of physics, save a long autobiographical poem in one part to the person who shall have English and occasionally gave copies of made the most important chemical dis- it to intimate friends. He was always an covery or improvement; one part to the omnivorous reader of books in all the person who shall have made the most BEST COPY AVAILABLE 3 .1,
Number of prizes awarded 1901-1983 (including the Norwegian Parliament). served to make scientificand literary (divided or jointly awarded prizes Each of these Committees has five mem- achievements, as well as humanitarian counted as one) bers, and each Committee may call upon contributions, much more widely known other outside experts for additional ad- than would otherwise have been the case. Total number vice. of The joint administrative body is the prizeslaureates Nobel Foundation in Stockholm. The Bibliography: principal task of its Board of Directors is Physics 78 Bergengren, Erik,Alfred Nobel.Thomas 123 to administer the funds and other prop- Nelson & Sons Ltd., Edinburgh, 1962 Chemistry 75 100 erties deriving from Alfred Nobel's estate. Physiology or Medicine 76 136 (obtainable from the Nobel Foundation). Literature 76 80 Peace 64 83 Nobel, the Man and His Prizes.Amer- The Prize in Economic Sciences ican Elsevier Publishing Company, New The Bank of Sweden, at its tercentenary York, 1972. in 1968, instituted The Bank of Sweden Total number Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory Sohlman, Ragnar,The Legacy of Alfred of of Alfred Nobel, pledging an annual Nobel.The Bodley Head, London, 1983. prizeslaureates amount to the Nobel Foundation equal to one of the regular Nobel Prizes. The Stable, Nils K,Alfred Nobel and the Economics (1969-83) 15 21 winner of the Prize in Economic Sciences Nobel Prizes.The SwedishInstitute, is to be chosen each year by the Swedish Stockholm, 1978. important discovery in the domain of Royal Academy of Sciences. Nobel Prize physiology or medicine; one part to the rules are followed regarding nomination Wilhelm, Peter,Tke Nobel Prize.Tek- person who shall have produced in the of candidates, prize adjudication and de- nowledge AB, Stockholm, 1983. field of literature the most outstanding cision, and prize presentation. work of an idealistic tendency, and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity The Process of Selection between nations, for the abolition or Those qualified to propose candidates for reduction of standing armies andfor prizes are: previous Nobel Laureates in holding and promotion of peace con- their respective fields; members of the gresses." His will also prescribes that in prize-awarding bodies and of the Nobel the distribution of the prizes "no con- Committees in the relevant spheres; pro- sideration whatever shall be given to the fessors in the various fields either at spe- nationality of the candidates, but that the cific universities or to be selected through most wo: thyshallreceive the prize, special invitation by the respective prize- whether he is a Scandinavian or not." awarding bodies; chairmen of represent- Legally, however, the will did not ac- ative authors' organizations (literature); tually bequeath the estate itself to anyone, members of certain international parlia- and when it was read in January 1897, it mentary or legal organizations (peace); was strongly contested by some of his members of parliaments and govern- relatives. Furthermore, Nobel had not ments (peace). Anyone proposing himself approached the different institutions con- for a Nobel Prize is automatically dis- cerned to ascertain if they were willing qualified. It should be observed that only to assume responsibility for awarding the individualsbelonging tothese bodies prizes. Politicians criticized the idea on have the right to propose a candidate the whole, and King Oscar II of Sweden not the organization as such. Since neither and Norway was sceptical of it for various the Swedish nor the Norwegian authori- reasons. More than three years elapsed ties have any influence whatsoever on before the matter was finally settled, and the prize decisions, no official represen- it was then decided to organize the Nobel tation or support in favor of a certain Foundation as legatee and administrator candidate is of any avail. of the Nobel fund capital whilethe The Committees examine the proposals various bodies named in the will agreed which have to be at their disposal before to undertake the responsibility of award- February 1, and by early autumn their ing the prizes. A decisive role in securing reports are submitted to the respective the final victory by the establishing in prize-awarding bodies. After the merits 1900 of the Nobel Foundation was played of the candidates have been discussed, by Nobel's young collaborator, Ragnar the bodies announce their final decisions Soh lman, who was named by Nobel Ex- in mid-October. All proceedings of the ecutor of the Will. Sohlman later became prize-awarding bodies are secret. the Executive Director of the Foundation. The Presentation Ceremonies For further information please contact: The Nobel Institutions The Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, The Swedish Embassy or Consulate There are five special Nobel Committees medicine,literature and the Prize in in your country (in the U.S.: attached tothe prize-awarding bodies Economic Sciences are presented to the The Swedish Information Service, laureates by H.M. the King at a ceremony 825 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022) in the Stockholm Concert Hall on De- The Swedish Institute Prizes Prize-awarding bodies cember 10, the anniversary of Alfred No- Mailing address: Office: bel's death in 1896 at San Remo, Italy. Box 7434 Sverigehuset Physics The Royal Academy of The Peace Prize presentation takes place S-103 91 Stockholm (Sweden House) Sciences on the same day at the University of Oslo. Sweden Kungstradgfirden Each laureate receives a Nobel Gold Stockholm Chemistry The Royal Academy of Medal, a Nobel Diploma and a check for Sciences the prize money, which varies according This fact sheet is produced as part of Physiology The Nobel Assembly of to the net income of the fund capital. In the Swedish information service abroad, or MedicineKarolinska Institutet recent years, the dollar value of the Nobel Prizes has grown to more than $230,000 and is intended to be used for reference Literature The Swedish Academy per prize. The awards are widely recog- purposes. It may be freely used in pre- nized as the world's highest civic honors. paring articles, speeches, broadcasts, etc. Peace The Norwegian Nobel No acknowledgment is necessary. Please Committee Besides spurring recipients and possible candidatesto new efforts,they have note the date of publication. 1.1/01/10, Slodk.in 1401C4M TRYCKCIU All 4