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The Nobel Prize

CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 14: University of Chicago professor Eugene Fama addresses collegues, students and media at the university after learning he had won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on October 14, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Fama, and his U of C colleague Lars Peter Hansen and Yale University professor Robert Shiller will share the prize. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Nobel Prize was established by the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, in 1895 to recognize advances in cultural and/or scientific advances. The first awards were given in 1901 in the categories of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

An additional award, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science was created in 1968. In its 111-year history the Nobel Prize has been awarded 555 times to 835 individuals and 21 organizations. It is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the various categories.


The nomination process for a Nobel Prize begins with the Noble committee sending forms to 3,000 individuals who are often academics working in a related area. For the Peace Prize, governments, international courts, professors and rectors, former winners and current and former committee members are contacted for their suggested nominations.

About 300 people or organizations are typically nominated and none of the names are made public nor are the nominees notified that they are under consideration for the prize. All the nomination records are sealed and unavailable until 50 years in the future.

Multiple Winners

On this date in 1911, Marie Curie became the first multiple Nobel Prize winner when she was awarded the prize for chemistry eight years about winning the prize for physics that she won with her husband. To this date she is the only woman with multiple prizes and the only person to win in two different categories.

The International Committee of the Red Cross received the award three times for work during the world wars. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees won twice.

The Curie family has the lock on most prizes won by a family with five prizes awarded. In addition to the wins by Marie and her husband Pierre, a daughter won in chemistry in 1935 along with her husband. In addition, the husband of Marie Curie’s second daughter Henry Labouisse who was the director of UNICEF won in 1965.

Some Final Thoughts

Many people questioned the nomination and award of the Nobel Prize to Vice President Al Gore and President Barack Obama. Some felt that these were little more than popularity prizes rather than a reward for an established body of work.

In many peoples eyes this diminished the validity and prestige of the award. What’s your opinion?

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