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Nobel Prize Facts

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace - the Nobel Prizes. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

585 Nobel Prizes! Between 1901 and 2017, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 585 times. 

In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: "A prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize. If a work that is being rewarded has been produced by two or three persons, the prize shall be awarded to them jointly. In no case may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons.

923 Nobel Laureates! 896 Laureates and 27 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2017. Of them, 79 are Laureates in Economic Sciences.

A small number of individuals and organizations have been honored more than once, which means that 892 individuals and 24 unique organizations have received the Nobel Prize in total.

Years without a Prize 

Since the start, in 1901, there are some years when the Nobel Prizes have not been awarded. The total number of times are 49. Most of them during World War I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945). In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: "If none of the works under consideration is found to be of the importance indicated in the first paragraph, the prize money shall be reserved until the following year. If, even then, the prize cannot be awarded, the amount shall be added to the Foundation's restricted funds.".
Nobel Prize Years without a Prize 
Physics 1916, 1931, 1934, 1940, 1941, 1942
Chemistry 1916, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1942
Medicine 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1925, 1940, 1941, 1942
Literature 1914, 1918, 1935, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943
Peace 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1966, 1967, 1972
Economic Sciences -

Nobel Laureates and Fields 

The most common fields for Physics Laureates is particle physics, for Chemistry Laureates it is biochemistry, for Medicine Laureates it is genetics and for Laureates in Economic Sciences it is macroeconomics. Most of the Literature Laureates write prose.

The Youngest Nobel Laureates 

Age     Name                 Category/Year          Date of birth
17      Malala Yousafzai     Peace 2014                 12 July 1997
25      Lawrence Bragg      Physics 1915               31 March 1890
31      Werner Heisenberg  Physics 1932              5 December 1901
31      Tsung-Dao Lee        Physics 1957             24 November 1926
31      Carl D. Anderson     Physics 1936             3 September 1905

The Oldest Nobel Laureates 

Age         Name               Category/Year                   Date of birth
90            Leonid Hurwicz   Economic Sciences 2007   21 August 1917
89            Lloyd Shapley      Economic Sciences 2012   2 June 1923
88            Raymond Davis Jr. Physics 2002                  14 October 1914
88            Doris Lessing         Literature 2007               22 October 1919
87            Yoichiro Nambu     Physics 2008                  18 January 1921

49 Nobel Prizes to Women 

Between 1901 and 2017 the Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded 49 times to women.

Two Nobel Laureates Declined the Prize 

Jean-Paul Sartre, awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature, declined the prize because he had consistently declined all official honours. 
Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They were awarded the Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Doc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason. 

Forced to Decline the Nobel Prize! 

Four Nobel Laureates have been forced by authorities to decline the Nobel Prize. 
Adolf Hitler forbade three German Nobel Laureates, Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt and Gerhard Domagk, from accepting the Nobel Prize. 
All of them could later receive the Nobel Prize Diploma and Medal, but not the prize amount. 
Boris Pasternak, the 1958 Nobel Laureate in Literature, initially accepted the Nobel Prize but was later coerced by the authorities of the Soviet Union, his native country, to decline the Nobel Prize. 

Nobel Laureates under Arrest at the Time of the Award 

Three Nobel Laureates were under arrest at the time of the award of the Nobel Prize, all of them Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: 
German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky 
Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi 
Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo 

Multiple Nobel Laureates

Linus Pauling: Nobel Prizes - the 1954 Chemistry and 1962 Nobel Peace Prize. 
J. Bardeen: 1956 Physics 1972 Physics
M. Curie: Physics 1903 Chemistry 1911
L. Pauling: Chemistry 1954 Peace 1962 
F. Sanger:  Chemistry 1958 Chemistry 1980
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): Peace 1917 Peace 1944 Peace 1963 
United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR):  Peace 1954 Peace 1981 

Posthumous Nobel Prizes 

From 1974, the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that a Prize cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize. 
Before 1974, the Nobel Prize has only been awarded posthumously twice: to Dag Hammarskjöld (Nobel Peace Prize 1961) and Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931). 
Following the 2011 announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, it was discovered that one of the Medicine Laureates, Ralph Steinman, had passed away three days earlier. The Board of the Nobel Foundation examined the statutes, and an interpretation of the purpose of the rule above led to the conclusion that Ralph Steinman should continue to remain a Nobel Laureate, as the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet had announced the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine without knowing of his death. 

"Family Nobel Laureates" 

 As you may notice, the Curies were a very successful 'Nobel Prize family'. Marie Curie herself was awarded two Nobel Prizes. 

Married couples 

Marie Curie and Pierre Curie 
Irène Joliot-Curie and Frédéric Joliot 
Gerty Cori and Carl Cori 
May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser 
Alva Myrdal and Gunnar Myrdal 

Mother & daughter 

Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie 

Father & daughter 

Pierre Curie and  Irène Joliot-Curie 

Father & son 

William Bragg and Lawrence Bragg 
Niels Bohr and Aage N. Bohr
Hans von and Euler-Chelpin Ulf von 
Euler Arthur Kornberg and Roger D. Kornberg 
Manne Siegbahn and Kai M. Siegbahn 
J. J. Thomson and George Paget Thomson 


Jan Tinbergen and Nikolaas Tinbergen 

The Nobel Prize Insignias 

At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies on 10 December the Nobel Laureates receive three things: a Nobel Diploma, a Nobel Medal and a document confirming the Nobel Prize amount. 
Each Nobel Diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. 
The Nobel Medals are handmade with careful precision and in 18 carat recycled gold. The Nobel Medals in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are identical on the face: it shows the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833-1896). 
Nobel's portrait also appears on the Nobel Peace Prize Medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economic Sciences, but with a slightly different design. 
The image on the reverse varies according to the institution awarding the prize. 

The Nobel Diplomas 

Each Nobel Diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The Nobel Prize Amount Alfred Nobel left most of his estate, more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,702 million) to be converted into a fund and invested in "safe securities." The income from the investments was to be "distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind." The Nobel Prize amount for 2017 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 9.0 million per full Nobel Prize. 

* Why are the individuals and organisations awarded a Nobel Prize called Nobel Laureates?
The word "Laureate" refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. A laurel wreath is a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel (in Latin: Laurus nobilis). In Ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour - both in athletic competitions and in poetic meets.

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