Nobel Prize Facts

On November 27, 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.

Since 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been presented to Nobel Laureates at ceremonies on December 10, the death anniversary of Alfred Nobel.

Here are 14 most interesting facts about Nobel Prizes:

1. The total number of times when the Nobel Prizes have not been awarded is 49.

2. Between 1901 and 2019, the Nobel Prizes have been awarded 54 times to women.

3. Two Nobel Laureates declined the Nobel Prize. Jean-Paul Sartre, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964, declined the prize because he had consistently declined all official honours.

4. 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.

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.

5. Three Nobel Laureates were under arrest at the time of the Nobel Prize award. All of them were Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

6. Only three women have been awarded Nobel Prize in Physics, namely:

  • 1903 Marie Curie (also awarded the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
  • 1963 Maria Goeppert-Mayer
  • 2018 Donna Strickland

7. Of the 183 individuals awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, only five are women.

8. The Curies were the most successful ‘Nobel Prize family.’

  • The husband-and-wife partnership of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie were awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Marie and Pierre’s eldest daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, was awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, together with her husband, Frederic Joliot
  • The younger daughter, Eve Curie, worked for UNICEF and was married to Henry R Labouisse. He accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of UNICEF in 1965

9. No one has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature more than once.

10. Many believe that Winston Churchill was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but he was actually awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature.

11. To date, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 years old when awarded the 2014 Peace Prize.

12. Only two women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Elinor Ostrom was awarded the Prize in 2009, while Esther Duflo in 2019.

13. The youngest Nobel Laureate in Physics is Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 years old when he was awarded the Nobel together with his father in 1915.

The oldest Nobel Laureate in Physics is Arthur Ashkin who was 96 years old when he was awarded in 2018.

14. The oldest Nobel Laureate in Chemistry to date is John B Goodenough, who was 97 years old when he was awarded the Chemistry Prize in 2019.

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