Some Interesting Facts About Nobel Prizes

Dr. S. S. Verma, Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal, Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148106

2018-04-14 07:33:48



The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, and based on the fortune of Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and entrepreneur. Each Prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma, and a cash award. Nobel Prizes every year awarded for outstanding work done for greatest work done to mankind in six disciplines i.e., Physics, Chemistry, Physiology & Medicine, Literature, Peace and Economic sciences.  All first five Nobel prizes were. on 27 November 1895, a year before his death, Alfred Nobel signed the famous will which would implement some of the goals to which he had devoted so much of his life. Nobel stipulated in his will that most of his estate, more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,712 million) should be converted into a fund and invested in "safe securities." The income from the investments was to be "distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind” mainly in five fields: Physics, Chemistry, Physiology & Medicine, Literature and Peace.

In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) established Nobel prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Between 1901 and 2017, the Nobel Prizes have been awarded 585 times to 923 people and organizations. A person or organization awarded the Nobel Prize is called Nobel Laureate. The word "laureate" refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honor. The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award and thus becoming of a Nobel laureate, not only brings name and fame to the person but it (Nobel Prize) also carries a good amount of money. The prize money in 1901 started with SEK 150 782 have reached to an amount of SEK 8 256 457 in 2016.

Well, the lengthy process begins during September of the preceding year. At that time, the four institutions that award the prizes invite thousands of reputable people to nominate citizens who have made great contributions to society (in each of the six categories. The people chosen to do the nominating may include previous Nobel Prize winners, scholars, university officials, scientists, and other well-respected individuals from around the world. All nominations must be turned in by either January 31 (all awards except the Nobel Peace Prize) or February 1 (Nobel Peace Prize) of the award year and include a written statement outlining the nominee's achievements as well as reasons why he or she is worthy of the honor. From there, the committees for each of the prize-awarding institutions begin the extensive process of researching each nominee. After a thorough investigation of the candidates, a list of final contenders is created. Finally, the committees hold a majority vote in early October and submit the names of the year's Nobel Prize winners, which are then announced to the public. The prizes are physically awarded on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.

Each individual from every walk of life always remain eager not only to know about the every year’s Nobel Laureate but also to learn the any type of interesting facts and figures about the awarded Nobel prizes so far.  From 1901 to till date, it is always interesting to know about the age, regional, caste, gender dependence of awarded Nobel prizes. However, the facts and figures presented anywhere or in this article are only a data and have nothing to do with any conclusions/guidelines to be drawn regarding the possibility of Nobel Prize award.  It is only to satisfy the curiosity of the interested reader to know more about the facts and figures related to Nobel Prize as one of the top most awards at international level.  Some quick facts about awarded Nobel prizes are as:

  • 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 awarded not by a Swedish organization but by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
  • People can't nominate themselves for the Nobel Prize, and doing so results in automatic disqualification.
  • The prizes for chemistry, economics, literature, medicine, and physics can only be awarded to an individual. The prize for peace, however, can be awarded to an individual or an organization/institution.
  • The names of the nominees must remain secret and can't be disclosed for 50 years
  • The awards are final and decisions can't be appealed.
  • The prize ceremonies take place annually in Stockholm, Sweden (with the exception of the peace prize, which is held in Oslo, Norway).
  • Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money that has been decided by the Nobel Foundation.
  • Medals made before 1980 were struck in 23 carat gold, and later from 18 carat green gold plated with a 24 carat gold coating.
  • In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: "A prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize. If a work that is being rewarded has been produced by two or three persons, the prize shall be awarded to them jointly. In no case may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons."
  • The inscription on the Nobel Peace medal is- “Pro pace et fraternitate gentium,” which means – “For the peace and brotherhood of men.”
  • Nobel Peace Prizes since 1901 were not awarded on 19 occasions: in 1914-1916, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939-1943, 1948, 1955-1956, 1966-1967 and 1972.
  • The award process is similar for all of the Nobel Prizes; the main difference is in who can make nominations for each of them.
  • Posthumous nominations can’t be made for Nobel Prizes. If during consideration, the nominee dies, his name is removed. But if a person dies after being announced as the winner, a posthumous award is given.
  • The Curies (Marie and Pierre Curie)  comprised a very successful ‘Nobel Prize family’.  Marie Curie herself was awarded two Nobel Prizes.
  • Laureates can’t speak off the cuff during the awards ceremony banquet, according to 2013 Nobelist Randy Schekman. Schekman says the text for that speech must be turned in to the Nobel Foundation more than 24 hours in advance to allow for translation into Swedish.


Table 1: Distribution statistics of Nobel prizes awarded in different categories

Nobel Prize

Number of Prizes

Number of Laureates

Awarded to one Laureate

Shared by two Laureates

Shared by three Laureates































Economic Sciences














Table 2: The Youngest Nobel Laureates




Date of birth


Malala Yousafzai

Peace 2014

12 July 1997


Lawrence Bragg

Physics 1915

31 March 1890


Werner Heisenberg

Physics 1932

5 December 1901


Tsung-Dao Lee

Physics 1957

24 November 1926


Carl D. Anderson

Physics 1936

3 September 1905


Paul A. M. Dirac

Physics 1933

8 August 1902


Frederick G. Banting

Medicine 1923

14 November 1891


Tawakkol Karman

Peace 2011

7 February 1979


Rudolf Mössbauer

Physics 1961

31 January 1929


Mairead Corrigan

Peace 1976

27 January 1944


Joshua Lederberg

Medicine 1958

23 May 1925


Betty Williams

Peace 1976

22 May 1943


Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Peace 1992

9 January 1959


  • The Nobel Prize in Physics average age: 55.0 years
  • The Nobel Prize in Medicine average age: 57.54 years
  • The Nobel Prize in Physics average age: 57.57 years
  • The Nobel Prize in Peace average age: 61.37 years
  • The Nobel Prize in Economic Science average age: 67.04 years
  • All prizes average age: 59.14 years