The Nobel Prize is the most coveted prize in the world of the sciences and mathematics. Winning the Nobel is akin to taking home the Holy Grail- that is how valued it is for scientists. For scientists, it is an impressive affirmation of their abilities, research skills and expertise in their respective fields.
The Nobel Prize is given annually to deserving individuals by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. It is given for outstanding contributions in the field of Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Economics and Peace.
Interesting History of The Nobel Prize
The prize is named after Sir Alfred Nobel, an eminent Swedish scientist, engineer and inventor. Alfred Nobel, born on 21 October, 1833, was a prolific inventor with a remarkable 355 patents in his name. However, he is known for his most famous invention- the explosive called dynamite. He also invented other materials such as cordite and ballistite, which led to the invention of numerous smokeless military arms and ammunition. On the strength of his inventions, Alfred Nobel amassed a huge fortune by establishing a massive arms manufacturing factory.
In 1888, upon the death of Alfred Nobel’s brother Ludwig, a French newspaper, confusing the two Nobels and assuming that the more famous Alfred Nobel was the one who had died, published an obituary titled “The Merchant of death is dead.”
Although the confusion was cleared and the French newspaper retracted the obituary with due apologies, the obituary deeply affected and perturbed Alfred Nobel. He did not want to be remembered as the ‘merchant of death’ after he was gone.
This inspired him to compose a will one year before his death in 1896, which bequeathed 94% of his vast fortune to create a series of prizes for those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. The total amount he left for this noble cause was 31 million SEK.
The first Nobel Prizes were declared in 1901. Since then, the Nobel Prize has been given 579 times, to 23 organizations and 881 individuals.
The prize ceremonies take place in Stockholm, Sweden every year on 10 December, which is Alfred Nobel’s death anniversary. Each recipient receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money that has been decided by the Nobel Foundation. As of 2012, each prize was worth about US$1.2 million.
Notable Indian Nobel Laureates In The Field of Science-
- V. Raman, 1930, awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, for his seminal work on the scattering of light and the Raman Effect.
- Har Gobind Khorana, 1968, awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, for his interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.
- Subrahmanyan Chandrashekhar, 1983, awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, for his theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars.
- Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, 2009, awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, for his studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.