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The Nobel Prize


The Nobel Prize (Swedish pronunciation: [noˈbɛl], Swedish definite form, singular: Nobelpriset; Norwegian: Nobelprisen) is a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural and/or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895. The prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace were first awarded in 1901.[1] The related Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was created in 1968. Between 1901 and 2012, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 555 times to 863 people and organizations. With some receiving the Nobel Prize more than once, this makes a total of 835 individuals and 21 organizations.
 
The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, while the other prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden. The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics.[2]The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences; the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; the Swedish Academy grants the Nobel Prize in Literature; and the Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded by a Swedish organisation but by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
 
The various prizes are awarded yearly. Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma and a sum of money, which is decided by the Nobel Foundation. As of 2012, each prize was worth 8 million SEK (c. US$1.2 million, €0.93 million). The prize is not awarded posthumously; however, if a person is awarded a prize and dies before receiving it, the prize may still be presented.[3] Though the average number of laureates per prize increased substantially during the 20th century, a prize may not be shared among more than three people

History

Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of engineers.[5] He was a chemist, engineer, and inventor. In 1894, Nobel purchased the Bofors iron and steel mill, which he made into a major armaments manufacturer. Nobel also invented ballistite. This invention was a precursor to many smokeless military explosives, especially the British smokeless powder cordite. As a consequence of his patent claims, Nobel was eventually involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over cordite. Nobel amassed a fortune during his lifetime, with most of his wealth from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous.[6]
 
In 1888, Nobel was astonished to read his own obituary, titled The merchant of death is dead, in a French newspaper. As it was Alfred's brother Ludvig who had died, the obituary was eight years premature. The article disconcerted Nobel and made him apprehensive about how he would be remembered. This inspired him to change his will.[7] On 10 December 1896, Alfred Nobel died in his villa in San Remo, Italy, from a cerebral haemorrhage. He was 63 years old.[8]
 
Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. He composed the last over a year before he died, signing it at the Swedish–Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895.[9][10] To widespread astonishment, Nobel's last will specified that his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the "greatest benefit on mankind" in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature.[11] Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million SEK (c. US$186 million, €150 million in 2008), to establish the five Nobel Prizes.[12] Because of scepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that it was approved by the Storting in Norway.[13] The executors of Nobel's will, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel's fortune and organise the award of prizes.[14]
 
Nobel's instructions named a Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize, the members of whom were appointed shortly after the will was approved in April 1897. Soon thereafter, the other prize-awarding organisations were designated or established. These were the Karolinska Institutet on 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June.[15] The Nobel Foundation reached an agreement on guidelines for how the prizes should be awarded; and, in 1900, the Nobel Foundation's newly created statutes were promulgated by King Oscar II.[11] In 1905, the personal union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved. Thereafter, Norway's Nobel Committee was responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and the Swedish institutions retained responsibility for the other prizes.[13].[4]
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