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The Nobel Prize – the award that captures the world’s attention

The Nobel Prize is considered the most prestigious award in the world. Prize-­winning discoveries include X-rays, radioactivity and penicillin. Peace Laureates include Nelson Mandela and the 14th Dalai Lama. Nobel Laureates in Literature, including Gabriel García Márquez and Doris Lessing, have thrilled readers with works such as 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' and 'The Grass is Singing'.

Every year in early October, the world turns Nobel Day is 10 December. For the prize its gaze towards Sweden and as the winners, it is the crowning point of a week Nobel Laureates are announced in of speeches, conferences and receptions. and . Millions of people visit the website At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in of the during this time. Stockholm on that day, the Laureates in The Nobel Prize has been awarded to Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, people and organisations every year since and Literature receive a medal from the 1901 (with a few exceptions such as during King of Sweden, as well as a diploma and

The Nobel is World War II) for achievements in physics, a cash award. The ceremony is followed a magnificent party held chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature by a gala banquet. The at Stockholm City Hall. and peace. is awarded in Oslo the same day. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT Facts about Sweden: The Nobel Prize sweden.se

Prize in Economic Sciences prize ceremonies. The total amount awarded In 1968, Sweden’s central bank (Sveriges each year is based on the most recent return Nobel Prize numbers Riksbank) established the Prize in Economic on investment. The capital is currently worth Sciences in Memory of . The over SEK 4.6 billion (EUR 441 million, USD 518 57 women prize is based on a donation received by the million), more than double the value of the The Nobel Prize and the Prize in Eco­ Nobel Foundation in 1968 from the central original estate when adjusted for inflation. nomic Sciences have been awarded bank to mark the bank’s 300th anniversary. The Nobel Prize in each category is cur­ to women 58 times from 1901 to 2020. The Prize in Economic Sci­ences is awarded rently worth SEK 10 million (EUR 960,000, One woman, , has been honoured twice, receiving the 1903 by the Royal of Sciences, USD 1.1 million). There can be up to three and the 1911 following the same principles as the Nobel recipients for each prize, who share the sum . This means Prizes. between them. a total of 57 women have received No­ Legacy of Alfred Nobel Organisations affiliated with the prize bel Prizes to date: 17 have received The Nobel Prize is the legacy of Sweden’s The Nobel Prize is affiliated with several the Peace Prize, 16 the Prize in Litera­ Alfred Nobel (1833–1896). Prizes are awarded organisations and institutions entrusted with ture, 12 in Physiology/Medicine, 7 in to ‘those who, during the preceding year, different tasks related to the prize. Chemistry (including Curie), 4 in Phys­ shall have conferred the greatest benefit The Nobel Foundation Rights Association ics (including Curie) and 2 in Economic on mankind.’ When he signed his last will was established in 1999 to provide informa­ Sciences. in 1895, Nobel declared that the bulk of his tion through a variety of media about the estate should be converted into a fund and Nobel Laureates and their achievements. 97 years old invested in safe securities. The four institu­ This non-profit association serves as The oldest Laureate to date is tions in Sweden and Norway (the two coun­ an umbrella organisation for three other John B. Goodenough, who was tries were united between 1814 and 1905) entities: 97 when he was awarded the Prize conferring the prizes were to be the Royal in Chemistry in 2019. • Nobel Media, which develops and manages Swedish Academy of Sciences, Karolinska programmes, productions and media Institutet, the Swedish Academy (all in 17 years old rights of the Nobel Prize within the areas Stockholm) and a committee of five people The youngest Laureate to date is of digital and broadcast media, publishing to be elected by the Norwegian parliament Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when as well as events. (Stortinget, in Oslo). she was awarded the Peace Prize • The Nobel Museum, housed in the Old in 2014. The Nobel Foundation Stock Exchange Building (Börshuset) in In 1900, the four institutions awarding the Stockholm’s Old Town, creates interest and Two have declined prizes agreed to create the Nobel Founda­ spreads knowledge around the natural Two Nobel Laureates have declined tion, a private institution based on Alfred sciences and culture. the Nobel Prize. Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel’s will. The Nobel Foundation were to • The , at Rådhusplassen awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in administer Nobel’s estate, which totalled SEK in Oslo, Norway, a showcase which presents Literature, declined the award be­ 31 million at the time, and would also make the Nobel Peace Prize and the work of the cause he had consistently declined the public announcements and arrange the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. all official honours. Lê Ðức Thọ was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Sec­ retary of State for negotiating the Vietnam peace agree­ The father of ment. Lê Ðức Thọ said he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Peace Alfred Nobel was a , engineer, inventor Photo: Nobel Museum Prize, due to the situation in Vietnam. and entrepreneur. He was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, and died on 10 December Four forced to decline 1896 in San Remo, Italy. He was devoted to the Four Nobel Laureates have been study of , and his inventions include forced by authorities to decline the a blasting cap, dynamite and smokeless gun­ Nobel Prize. Adolf Hitler forbade powder. Nobel became famous across the world three German Laureates – Richard when the St. Gotthard Tunnel in the Swiss Alps Kuhn (Chemistry), was completed in 1881 and dynamite was used (Chemis­try) and for the first time on a large scale. (Physi­ology/Medicine) – from At the time of his death, Nobel held 355 patents accepting their prizes. The Nazi in different countries. There were Nobel compa­ regime banned all Germans from nies in more than 20 countries, with explosives accepting Nobel Prizes after the of all kinds being manufactured under his patents 1935 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in around 90 factories worldwide. Nobel lived to Carl von Ossietzky, a German writer and worked in many countries, including Sweden, who publicly opposed Hitler and , , the United Kingdom, and Nazism. The three later received their Italy. He spoke five lan­guages, had a passionate awards, but not the prize money. interest in literature, and wrote and drama. , the 1958 Nobel He could never have imagined how important his Laureate in Literature, initially accepted prize would become, or how much media atten­ the prize but was later coerced into tion future Nobel Laureates would attract. Alfred Nobel. declining by Soviet authorities. Facts about Sweden: The Nobel Prize sweden.se

A history of culture and science The Nobel Prize- awarding institutions Since its inception in 1901 up to 2020, the Nobel Prize has been awarded 603 times, either to individuals or organisations. The recipi- Four institutions select the Nobel Laureates: ents represent a major contribution to the cultural and scientific The Royal Swedish Academy of history of the world. Sciences (Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Sveriges Photos: Melker Shutterstock; Dahlstrand/Imagebank.sweden.se; Images Getty Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel). Founded in 1739 as an independent organisation, it aims to promote the sciences and enhance their influence in society. It currently has around 460 Swedish and 175 foreign members. The Swedish Academy (Nobel Prize in Literature). Founded in 1786, it consists of 18 chairs. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine). Dating from 1977 in its current form, the assembly con­ sists of 50 professors at Karolinska Institutet. The Norwegian (Nobel Peace Prize). Founded in 1897, its five members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament.

The banquet of

Prize-winning discoveries (clockwise from left): X-rays; AGA lighthouse, a type of automatic lighthouse The Nobel Banquet is a magnificent that runs on acetylene gas; the molecular structure of DNA – the double helix; penicillin. party held in the Blue Hall at Stockholm City Hall. The preparations are metic­ ulous. Hundreds of cooks, waiters To date, the Nobel Prize has been awarded the gas in daylight, and a revolving light and attendants ensure that everything to 930 individuals and 25 organisations, apparatus that allowed the beacon to flash by runs smoothly. Some 1,300 guests are with only a few recipients honoured more switching the gas off and on at brief, regular invited, with each Laureate entitled to than once. intervals. The two innovations made it possi­ bring 14 guests beside their spouses. The first Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1901, ble to reduce gas consumption by 90 per cent Sweden’s royal family is always went to Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen for his compared with earlier constructions. present, as are the prime minister discovery of X-rays, used every day by health In the autumn of 1945, the Nobel Assem­ and other members of the govern­ care providers around the world. bly of professors at Karolinska Institutet ment. The is always represented. The remainder of the In 1903, Marie Curie became the first female gathered to select a Nobel Laureate in guest list should reflect the cultural Laureate when she was named a joint winner Physiology or Medicine. They chose three and scientific com­munity of Sweden of the Nobel Prize in Physics for her research Laureates, including , and the world. into radioactivity. She received her second for their discovery of penicillin, which saved Photo: Media AB Berghult/Nobel Fredrika prize in 1911 – this time in chemistry – for millions of lives in the second half of the isolating and studying the new element 20th century. radium. Previous Nobel Peace Prize Laureates In 1905, Austrian baroness and author include Martin Luther King (1964), Mother became the first woman Teresa (1979) and Barack Obama (2009). to win the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition Nobel Laureates in Literature include of her work with the pacifist movements in Ernest Hemingway (1954), Toni Morrison Germany and Austria. She was also widely (1993), (1997) and Mario Vargas seen as inspiring Alfred Nobel, with whom Llosa (2010). she corresponded, to create the Peace Prize. In 2018, no Nobel Prize in Literature was In 1912, Swedish inventor and industrialist awarded. The Swedish Academy, in the midst Gustaf Dalén won the Nobel Prize in Physics of a crisis, cited their diminished number for his contributions to lighthouse technol­ of active members and a reduced public ogy. In the early 1900s, he invented the AGA confidence as the reasons for not handing Around 1,300 guests are invited each lighthouse, a type of automatic lighthouse out a Prize that year. The Academy instead year to the grand banquet. that ran on acetylene gas. The gas supply announced the Nobel Prize in Literature for was controlled by a sun valve that shut off 2018 – Olga Tokarczuk – in parallel with the Facts about Sweden: The Nobel Prize sweden.se

naming of the 2019 Laureate, Peter Handke. residence. Nobel Week was staged as a digi­ In 2020, with the ongoing Covid-19 pan­ tal event, with award ceremonies and lec­ 2020 Nobel Prizes demic, Laureates received their Nobel Prize tures held online and the usual banquets in (Countries denote place of birth.) diplomas and medals in their countries of Stockholm and Oslo cancelled. Chemistry , France; Jennifer A. Doudna, USA. ‘For the development of a method for .’ The Nobel Prize calendar Literature Louise Glück, USA. The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm is held on ‘For her unmistakable poetic voice that 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. with austere beauty makes individual On the same day, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway. existence universal.’ Peace (WFP). Several other activities take place the same Nobel Week in Stockholm ‘For its efforts to combat hunger, for week, with receptions and dinners hosted by its contribution to bettering conditions the institutions awarding prizes, the Nobel 5–7 December Press conferences and seminars for peace in conflict-affected areas Foundation and the Swedish Royal Family. are held in Stockholm. and for acting as a driving force in ef­ The Laureates deliver lectures and talk about 7–8 December The Laureates deliver their Nobel forts to prevent the use of hunger as a their work, with panel discussions and other Lectures. A Nobel Prize Concert in honour of the weapon of war and conflict.’ public appearances usually arranged. Laureates is held at the Stockholm Concert Hall. Traditionally, the Laureates and their spouses 9 December Nobel Week Dialogue. Physics sit with the Royal Family at the Nobel Banquet. , United Kingdom. 10 December The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony They are also invited to a more intimate dinner ‘For the discovery that black hole for­ is held in the Stockholm Concert Hall, where at the Royal Palace, where they meet the Royal mation is a robust prediction of the the King of Sweden presents each Laureate with Family again. The visit to the Nobel Foundation general theory of relativity.’ is a great symbolic event. a Nobel Prize Medal and a Nobel Prize Diploma. The Laureates receive a document con­firming The Nobel Banquet is then held at Stockholm And City Hall. the prize amount and sign their names in a , Germany; guestbook, thereby joining hundreds of famous 11 December The festivities conclude with Andrea Ghez, USA. predecessors. a banquet dinner at the Royal Palace. ‘For the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.’

Physiology or Medicine Harvey J. Alter, USA; Michael Houghton, United Kingdom; Charles M. Rice, USA. ‘For the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.’

Useful links The Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel www.ki.se Karolinska Institutet Paul R. Milgrom, USA; www.kva.se The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Robert B. Wilson, USA. www.nobelpeacecenter.org Nobel Peace Center ‘For improvements to auction theory www.nobelpeaceprize.org The Norwegian Nobel Committee and inventions of new auction www.nobelprize.org The official website of the Nobel Prize formats.’ www.svenskaakademien.se The Swedish Academy

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