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Interesting Facts About The Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize is a series of international awards that are conferred in various categories by institutions from Sweden and Norway. The awards are in recognition of academic, cultural or even scientific advancements that have helped humanity. The awards were first handed out as per the will of Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist, Alfred Nobel in 1895. The prizes for Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics and Physiology/Medicine were first awarded in the year 1901. The Nobel Prize is often touted to be the most honorable and prestigious awards that can be conferred on individuals in their respective fields. Here are a few interesting facts about the Nobel Prize that might interest you.

Nobel Prize facts that will surprise you

  • You might be interested to know that in some rare cases, a Nobel Prize winner could be awarded the prestigious honor while serving time in jail. Three Nobel laureates were in jail when they received their awards. All three of them were, ironically winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. German pacifist and journalist Carl von Osietzky was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1935 while he was in jail. Similarly, Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Prize while she was serving her sentence in 1991 and more recently, Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiabo won the award while serving his sentence in 2010.
  • Leon Lederman who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in the year 1988 for the discovery of the muon neutrino sold his award to cover medical care expenses. The buyer’s identity was not revealed at the auction and it is believed that $765,000 was paid for it. Only two Nobel awards have ever been sold during a winner’s lifetime and both occurred in the recent past.
  • There have been even bizarre instances when it comes to the Nobel Prize. Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov paid a staggering $4.7 million to buy the Nobel Prize medal awarded to biologist James Watson for his work on DNA. He kept it for some time before deciding that the medal should remain with the winner and that the money he paid should be used for research.
  • When Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt won for his co-discovery of dark energy, he had a lot of trouble at the airport. But airport security was a little too strict and he had to explain quite a bit about his work and actually prove that he in fact won the award and hadn’t stolen it from someone.
  • A lot of winners of the Nobel Prize have been around their early middle ages. Strangely, the oldest winner of the Nobel Prize is Leonid Hurwicz who won the Economics Nobel at the age of 90. Even more interesting is that the youngest ever winner is Malala Yousafzai who won the Peace Prize in the year 2014 when she was just 17 years old.
  • Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler did not allow the winners of the Nobel Prize from accepting their award. Richard Kuhn won the award for Chemistry in 1938 while Gerhard Domagk won for Physiology/Medicine in 1939 as did Adolf Butenandt for Chemistry that same year. But all three winners were forbidden from accepting this prestigious honor by Hitler. They did receive their awards after the Nazi regime ended but they did not get the cash prize that is handed to winners.
  • When Swedish Chemist Alfred Novel signed his will and testament in 1895, it created an uproar. In his will, he had set aside most of his wealth for establishing the Nobel Prize after his death. His move wasn’t well-received by his family who contested the will. The award committee too weren’t keen on carrying out his wishes. Finally, after much controversy, the first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901.

Facts about the Nobel Prize

Although the Nobel Prize is the most prestigious award in the world, there has been much controversy and uncertainty surrounding it. From the reluctance of Alfred Nobel’s family in carrying out his last wishes to the awards themselves, there has been much furor surrounding the Nobel Prize. Either way, the Nobel Prize remains one of the most coveted awards in the world.

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