All You Need to Know About the Nobel Prize

gray stainless steel trophy

Alfred Bernhard Nobel, the nineteenth-century chemist, engineer, inventor and philanthropist who is most widely known for his invention of dynamite, is also credited for the Nobel Prize which he formulated and drafted in his will in 1895. The first set of the Nobel Prizes were distributed in 1901 in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.

The Nobel Scrutiny

The institution receives over 1000 nominations in each category every year but the number of final nominations usually ranges between 100-250. The award ceremony is held in Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is conducted in Norway, on Nobel’s death anniversary, 10th December. The spotlight of the ceremony in Sweden is the King of Sweden, who honours the laureates with the prize.

The Nobel Prize is considered the most prestigious award, anyone can receive not only in the six fields (five before 1968, the year the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was introduced) that they are presented in but also in other intellectual pursuits. According to the will and testament of Alfred Nobel, a foundation would be set up to award those who serve humanity and about 94% of his personal fortune was to be used to fund this foundation. The prize ceremony takes place in Stockholm, Sweden and each laureate are honoured with a diploma, a gold medal and a predetermined sum of money which for the Nobel Peace Prize 2019 was estimated at around $1,110,000!


Who swept the Nobels this year?

The week of 7-14th October 2019 saw the announcement of the Nobel Prize 2019 and the awardees of the same are as follows:

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine - William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza

“for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability”

Nobel Prize in Physics - James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz

“for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos”

Nobel Prize in Chemistry - John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino

“for the development of lithium-ion batteries”

Nobel Prize in Literature
- Peter Handke (Austrian novelist and playwright)

“for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”

Nobel Prize in Peace - Abiy Ahmed (Ethiopian Prime Minister)

“for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”

Nobel Prize in Economic Science - Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer

“for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”

The Unbroken Record

The Nobel Peace Prize is arguably the most talked and debated of a prize there exists and this year is no exception. Among other contenders for the same, Greta Thunberg, who has recently gathered quite a following due to her involvement in climate crisis movement and challenging corporations and the government to address the same issue, had been a favourite for the award and many speculated her win. The 16-year-old hailing from Sweden would have been the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Prize, had she won but Malala Yousafzai remains undefeated, being only 17 years old when she won her Nobel Peace Prize back in 2014.

The Indian Nobel Laureate

Abhijit Banerjee, part of the trio that won the Economic Sciences Prize, is also seeing some special mention in the media which is probably because he is of Indian origin, making him one of the nine Indians who have been honoured with a Nobel Prize, but rightly so. He along with his colleagues, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, studied the perception of the poor and understanding the complexity of their realities to form a new experiment-based approach to fight poverty. Banerjee has also openly criticized demonetization for being a major factor contributing to the current economic stress.

This grand achievement has also seen its fair share of criticism and controversy. Awarding a select few individuals with the ultimate bragging rights over their colleagues has to be unfair. And having only six categories can almost be seen as oversight to other scientific and cultural disciplines such as mathematics or technology. Furthermore, many of the major contributions in these fields are overlooked just because the award committee refuses to make a group award (each prize can be given to more than one but no more than three people) while ignoring that theories come about in the first place through collaborations of various scholars. This then seems like an arbitrary and, in some way, a subjective competition. But perhaps the greatest take away of this event is its ability to make people outside these disciplines interact and engage in the abstract theories of its laureates.

- Written by Vidhi Gupta

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All You Need to Know About the Nobel Prize All You Need to Know About the Nobel Prize Reviewed by EMN on October 18, 2019 Rating: 5

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