Immanuel Nobel was a Swedish industrialist, engineer, and inventor and was the founder of the first rubber factory in Sweden. His all the sons were excellent in one field or another. His elder son Robert was a distinguished scholar of Chemistry and a renowned oil businessman. Ludwig, the youngest one invented the famous ‘The Nobel wheel’. The second offspring of the family, Alfred earned accolades for his innovation ‘Dynamite’ which revolutionized mining, quarrying, and construction industries.
Ludwig died in 1888 when his oil business was at its peak owing to Alfred’s new dynamite technology which eased oil exploration to great extent. But due to confusion, some newspapers wrongly published that Alfred died of cardiac arrest. While writing obituaries to Alfred, editorial columns were filled with all negative news about him. One of the French newspapers published an obituary titled “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (“The merchant of death is dead”). All such news appalled Alfred that he would be remembered in this way. This compelled him to rewrite his ‘will” in 1895 in which he dictated to reward people from 94% of his corpus “to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”.
As a result of this, the Nobel Prize instituted in 1901 in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace (Nobel called this prize “fellowship among nations”). The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has given the responsibility to selects the Nobel Laureate in Physics and Chemistry, Karolinska Institute in the field of Physiology or Medicine, the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and a Committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Parliament selects for the Nobel Peace Prize. ‘Sveriges Riksbank’, Sweden’s central bank celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1968 by donating a huge amount of money to the Nobel Foundation to set up a prize in honor of Alfred Nobel.
From 1901 to date, the Nobel Prize s and the Prize in Economic Sciences are awarded 603 times. According to the Nobel Foundation, a prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize and in any case, the prize must not be distributed among more than three people. A total of 934 Laureates along with 28 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2020. In 2020, the Nobel Prize monetary award was 9 million SEK (Swedish Krone).
It is interesting to note that the Nobel Prize distribution was discontinued during World War-I (1914-19) and World War-II (1939-45). In 2014, Malala Yousafzai at the age of 17 years became the youngest person to get the Nobel Prize for her peace efforts while in 2019 John B. Goodenough became the oldest recipient of the award when he was 97 years old. He got it for his contribution to the field of Chemistry. 57 of all Nobel laureates to date are females.
Four US presidents won the Nobel peace prize so far. The first American president to have won the Nobel Peace Prize was Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Then Woodrow Wilson received it in 1920 for his efforts to end first world war, followed by Jimmy Carter in 2002 for formulating peaceful solutions in international conflicts and then Barack Obama in 2009 for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation. Vice President Al Gore too was awarded in 2007 for his efforts to obtain and spread knowledge about climate change.
Marie Curie is the only woman who has been honored twice, with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. International Committee of the Red Cross is the only organization that won Prize thrice. Marie Curie and Pierre Curie became the first married couple to get Nobel Prize. Later on, five more married couple followed the same trajectory.
6 Indian nationals have received it so far and the first Indian to receive the Nobel Prize was Rabindra Nath Tagore for his contribution in the field of literature. He was also the first person hailing from Asia to receive such a prestigious award. Four other people of Indian origin also received it. 14th Dalai Lama who is currently living in India received it in 1989. Interestingly, six people who received it were associated with city Kolkata. Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for Prize four times but did not receive it before his death.
Nobel Prize has created a legacy of excellence and is the most celebrated award recognised by the global community given to very distinguished people in the world. Apart from prize money, surplus-value of prestige and worldwide attention gained by the awardee. Over a period of years, it became a harbinger of modern scientific innovations which have human welfare objective at their epicentre.