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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Nobel Prize.

The Nobel Prize

A pacifist at heart and an inventor by nature, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel invented dynamite. However, the invention that he thought would end all wars was seen by many others as an extremely deadly product. In 1888, when Alfred's brother Ludvig died, a French newspaper mistakenly ran an obituary for Alfred which called him the "merchant of death."

Not wanting to go down in history with such a horrible epitaph, Nobel created a will that soon shocked his relatives and established the now famous Nobel Prizes.

Life of Alfred Nobel.

Alfred Nobel was born on October 21, 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1842, when Alfred was nine years old, his mother (Andrietta Ahlsell) and brothers (Robert and Ludvig) moved to St. Petersburg, Russia to join Alfred's father (Immanuel), who had moved there five years earlier. The following year, Alfred's younger brother, Emil, was born.

Immanuel Nobel, an architect, builder, and inventor, opened a machineshop in St. Petersburg and was soon very successful with contracts from the Russian government to build defense weapons.

Alfred soon began experimenting with nitroglycerine, creating his first explosions in early summer 1862. In only a year (October 1863), Alfred received a Swedish patent for his percussion detonator - the "Nobel lighter."

Alfred Nobel
Having moved back to Sweden to help his father with an invention, Alfred established a small factory at Helenborg near Stockholm to manufacture nitroglycerine. Unfortunately, nitroglycerine is a very difficult and dangerous material to handle. In 1864, Alfred's factory blew up - killing several people, including Alfred's younger brother, Emil.

The explosion did not slow down Alfred, and within only a month, he organized other factories to manufacture nitroglycerine.

In 1867, Alfred invented a new and safer-to-handle explosive - dynamite.

Though he recognized the destructive power of dynamite, Alfred believed it was a harbinger of peace. Unfortunately, Alfred did not see peace in his time. Alfred Nobel, chemist and inventor, died alone on December 10, 1896 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. After several funeral services were held and Alfred Nobel's body was cremated, the will was opened. Everyone was shocked.

Alfred Nobel's Will.

Alfred Nobel had written several wills during his lifetime, but the last one was dated November 27, 1895 - a little over a year before he died.

Alfred Nobel's Will
Alfred Nobel signed his third and last will at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris. When it was opened and read after his death, the will caused a lot of controversy both in Sweden and internationally, as Nobel had left much of his wealth for the establishment of a prize. His family opposed the establishment of the Nobel Prize, and the prize awarders he named refused to do what he had requested in his will. It was five years before the first Nobel Prize could be awarded in 1901.

Nobel's last will left approximately 94 percent of his worth to the establishment of five prizes (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace) to "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."

Full Text of Alfred Nobel's Will.

"The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiology or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not."

The Nobel Foundation.

The Nobel Foundation was founded as a private organisation on 29 June 1900. Its function is to manage the finances and administration of the Nobel Prizes.[16] In accordance with Nobel's will, the primary task of the Foundation is to manage the fortune Nobel left. Robert and Ludwig Nobel were involved in the oil business in Azerbaijan and, according to Swedish historian E. Bargengren, who accessed the Nobel family archives, it was this "decision to allow withdrawal of Alfred's money from Baku that became the decisive factor that enabled the Nobel Prizes to be established".

Award Process.

Nomination forms are sent by the Nobel Committee to about 3,000 individuals, usually in September the year before the prizes are awarded. These individuals are often academics working in a relevant area. For the Peace Prize, inquiries are sent to governments, members of international courts, professors and rectors, former Peace Prize laureates and current or former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The Nobel Committee then prepares a report reflecting the advice of experts in the relevant fields. This, along with the list of preliminary candidates, is submitted to the prize-awarding institutions.The institutions meet to choose the laureate or laureates in each field by a majority vote. Their decision, which cannot be appealed, is announced immediately after the vote.

All nomination records for a prize are sealed for 50 years from the awarding of the prize.  If the Peace Prize is not awarded, the money is split among the scientific prizes. This has happened 19 times so far.

Nobel Prize Ceremony
All medals made before 1980 were struck in 23 carat gold. Since then they have been struck in 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold. The weight of each medal varies with the value of gold, but averages about 175 grams (0.386 lb) for each medal. The diameter is 66 millimetres (2.6 in) and the thickness varies between 5.2 millimetres (0.20 in) and 2.4 millimetres (0.094 in).

Nobel laureates receive a diploma directly from the hands of the King of Sweden or the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Each diploma is uniquely designed by the prize-awarding institutions for the laureates that receive them.

The laureates are given a sum of money when they receive their prizes, in the form of a document confirming the amount awarded. The amount of prize money depends upon how much money the Nobel Foundation can award each year. The purse has increased since the 1980s, when the prize money was 880 000 SEK (c. 2.6 million SEK, US$350 000 or €295,000 today) per prize. In 2009, the monetary award was 10 million SEK (US$1.4 million, €950,000). In June 2012, it was lowered to 8 million SEK.

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