In the past week, the Nobel Foundation has just announced the winners of 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. If you are like most people, you probably know that the Nobel Prize is a prestigious international award. But, beyond that, do you know who started the Nobel Prize? What exactly is it that the winners have won? And… wait a minute, is it called the Nobel Prize or is it the Noble Prize? Hmm…
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was born on 21st October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. He was a multilingual scientist-inventor, an entrepreneur, a poet and a writer interested in social and peace related issues. His experiments with nitro-glycerine which began in 1862 led him to obtain patents for nitro-glycerine as an industrial explosive. He later patented a detonator for the explosive and in 1867 he patented the dynamite.
He signed his famous third and last will in 1895 before he passed away a year later. The content of the will revealed that Nobel had willed a huge amount of his wealth to set up a fund to earn interest from “safe securities”. The interest was to be distributed every year in the form of prizes to those whom, during the preceding year “have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”.
Since then, from 1901 to 2012, 839 Laureates and 24 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Why call them “Laureates”? The name is derived from a tradition in ancient Greece, where laurel wreaths were bestowed to winners of poetic meets and athletic competitions as signs of honour. For the Nobel Laureate, they will receive 3 things: a medal, a diploma, as well as a document confirming the prize amount. In 2012, that prize amount is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 8.0 million per full Nobel Prize (approximately 1.46 million Singapore dollars).
If you ever aspire to win any future Nobel Prize, visit the official Nobel Prize website at www.nobelprize.org to find out more. You can also read the many biographies of Nobel Laureates listed on this site.
While the Nobel Prize was started in honour of Alfred Nobel, there is also the Noble Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This prize recognizes a published technical paper of exceptional merit whose author is 35 years of age or younger.
So, do you want to get a Nobel Prize or a Noble Prize?
Official Website of the Nobel Prize: www.nobelprize.org (Last accessed 13th October 2012)
American Society of Civil Engineers: http://www.asce.org/ (Last accessed 13th October 2012)
Title : Nobel minds 2009 [videorecording]
Publisher : Hamilton, N.J. : Films for the Humanities and Science, c2010.
Call No : Reference English 001.44 NOB
Title : Freedom from fear
Author : Aung San Suu Kyi.
Publisher : Kiscadale, 1991.
Call No : English 320.9591 AUN
Title : Let my people go
Author : Luthuli, A. J. (Albert John), 1898-1967.
Publisher : Cape Town : Tafelberg ; Houghton [South Africa] : Mafube, c2006.
Call No : English 968.05092 LUT
Post contributed by Felix Ser, Librarian