News10 curious facts about the Nobel Prize winners that...

10 curious facts about the Nobel Prize winners that you may not have known

The Nobel prizes , intended for personalities who have worked for “the good of humanity”, are awarded from Monday until October 10 in Stockholm and Oslo, by the academies of Sweden and Norway, respectively.

So far, the Nobel Prizes for Medicine have been awarded —awarded to the Swedish Svante Pääbo for his discoveries in paleogenomics— and for Physics —to three pioneering scientists in the quantum world—. Prizes for Chemistry, Literature, Peace and Economics will still be awarded.

Here are 10 things to know about these awards created by the Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite.

Who was Alfred Nobel?

Alfred Nobel was born on October 21, 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. His family were descendants of Olof Rudbeck, best known as a technical genius in 17th-century Sweden, in an era when the Nordic country held enormous power in northern Europe.

Nobel was fluent in several languages by the age of 17, including Swedish, Russian, French, English and German. His main interests were English literature, as well as chemistry and physics.

His father, Immanuel Nobel, wanted him to go into the family business as an engineer, so he never supported his love of poetry. He sent him abroad to study to become a chemical engineer.

In Paris, Alfred worked in the private laboratory of Professor TJ Peoluze, a famous chemist. There he met the Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero. Three years I spied, Sobrero invented nitroglycerin, a highly explosive liquid. It was considered too dangerous for practical use.

Alfred was interested in investigating how to use this material in the construction industry, so on his return to Russia —where the Nobel family lived— he investigated with his father how to give nitroglycerin a technical and commercial use.

Once back in Sweden, Nobel continued his research on the compound. His experiments were unsuccessful, leading to the deaths of several people, including his younger brother, Emil. For this reason, the Stockholm government banned experiments within the city limits.

At Lake Mälaren, Nobel continued his research. In 1864, he was able to start the mass production of nitroglycerin, but he did not stop experimenting with different additives to make the production much safer.

Alfred discovered through his experiments that mixing nitroglycerin with a fine sand called diatomaceous earth would turn the liquid into a paste that could be shaped into rods. These rods could then be inserted into drill holes.

The invention was made in 1866. Alfred obtained a patent or legal property right on this material the following year. He called it “dynamite.” He also invented a detonator or detonator that could be activated by lighting a fuse.

These inventions were made at a time when diamond drilling and the pneumatic drill became widespread. Together, these inventions helped reduce the cost of many construction jobs, such as tunneling, rock blasting, bridge building, and more.

Nobel had no family. He had a very close relationship with Bertha von Stuttner, an Austrian woman who was his secretary. She became an important activist for peace. When Alfred Nobel wrote his will to establish the Nobel Prizes, he included an award for people or organizations that promoted peace.

Alfred died in San Remo, Italy, on December 10, 1896. In his last will and testament, he wrote that much of his fortune would be used to award prizes to those who have done their best for humanity in the field of physics. , chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.

Not everyone was happy about this. His will was rejected by his relatives and questioned by the authorities of several countries. It took four years for his executors to convince all parties to follow Alfred’s wishes.

In 1901, the first Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature were first awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Peace Prize in Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway.

Speeches cannot be improvised

Prize winners can’t speak off the cuff during the award ceremony, explained 2013 Nobel laureate in medicine Randy Schekman, who was honored for his research on cell transport.

The researcher explains to Scientific American magazine that the text of that speech must be delivered to the Nobel Foundation more than 24 hours in advance, so that it can be translated into Swedish.

Years without Nobel Prizes

Since the start of the award ceremony, in 1901, there have been several years in which the prizes were not awarded. This has happened 49 times, according to the Nobel Foundation website.

“If none of the works considered is of the importance indicated in the first paragraph, the prize money will be reserved until the following year. If, even so, the prize cannot be awarded, the amount will be added to the restricted funds of the Foundation”, indicate the statutes of the organization.

These are the years, by category, in which the prizes have not been awarded.

Physics: 196,1931,1934,1949,1941,1942
Chemistry: 1916, 1917, 1919, 1924,1933, 1940, 1941, 1942
Physiology or medicine: 1915, 196, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1925, 1940, 1941, 1942
Literature: 1914, 1918, 1935, 1949, 1941, 1942, 1943
Peace: 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1966, 1967, 1972

Nobel laureate women

58 women have been recognized with the Nobel prize between 1901 and 2001. You can consult the list of the winners.

Youngest Nobel Laureates in Literature

Malala Yousafzai , who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, is the youngest person to receive the award. She was 17 years old at the time she was awarded, since she was born on July 12, 1997.

He is followed by Lawrence Bragg , awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915 when he was barely 25 years old, and the Iraqi activist Nadia Murad, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, at the age of 25.

The longest-serving Nobel Prize winners for literature

In 2019, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to German John B. Gooddenough , who was 97 years old at the time. A year earlier, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the 96-year-old Arthur Ashkin .

Those forced to reject the Nobel

Four Nobel Prize winners have been forced by the authorities to decline the Nobel Prize.

The Germans Richard Kuhn, Aldolf Buternandt – winners in Chemistry in 1938 and 1939 and Gerhard Domagk in Medicine in 1939 – were forced by the government of Adolf Hitler to decline the award. All of them could later receive the Nobel medal and diploma, but not the financial prize.

Boris Pasternak, the winner of the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature, had initially accepted the award but was later forced by authorities in his native Soviet Union to decline the award.

Awarded more than once

The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize three times. In addition, ICRC founder Henry Dunant received the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Linus Pauling is the only person to have received two unshared Nobel Prizes: the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize.

The American John Bardeen and the Polish Marie Curie received the Nobel Prize twice. Bardeen was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956 and 1972, both shared. Curie won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry jointly in 1903 and the Nobel Prize for Physics individually in 1911.

Prize winners in prison

Three Nobel prize winners have been under arrest when the Nobel prize was awarded:

•The German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky
•Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi
•Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo

Mexicans who have won a Nobel

Three Mexicans have been distinguished with the Nobel Prize.

Diplomat Alfonso García Robles won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982. He was known as the father of the Treaty of Tlatelolco to ensure the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The negotiations were led by Robles.

Octavio Paz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.

José Mario Molina Henríquez received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 together with the American Frank Sherwood Rowland and the Dutchman Paul Crutzen, for having warned the world about the danger of the thinning of the thin ozone layer that surrounds the Earth.

With information from AFP

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