6 Things You Didn't Know About The Nobel Prize

On December 10, 1901, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in Stockholm, Sweden in the fields of physics, medicine, chemistry, literature, and peace. Here are 6 things you didn't know about this prestigious award...


A Mistaken Obituary Led Alfred Nobel to Establish the Prize An obituary was published in France in 1888 noting the death of inventor Alfred Nobel, but it was Nobel’s brother, Ludwig, who had passed away. The obituary was insulting, saying that Nobel made himself wealthy by inventing ways to kill people faster. Because he was concerned about how people would remember him, Nobel came up with the idea of the Nobel Prize, which was funded by proceedings of a trust from his estate.

Nominations Are Kept Secret for a Long Time Nominations for the Nobel Prize begin every year in September, and individuals are not allowed to nominate themselves. Once the nominations have been received, they are sent to the four nominating committees. No one knows if they have even been nominated until they have been notified that they have won, and the record of those who were nominated is kept under seal for half a century.


One Woman Was Nominated 48 Times But Never Won Lise Meitner was a physicist who worked on projects involving nuclear physics and radioactivity. Although she was nominated numerous times by leading scientists in the field for the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry, she never won. She, along with Otto Robert Frisch, not only explained how nuclear fission worked but gave it its name.

Some Really Nice Prizes Come With the Award, Including Money Prize winners are called laureates, after the Greek laurel wreath given to champions in ancient times.Nobel laureates receive gold medals as well as diplomas decorated with the work of renowned artists and calligraphers.The prize money comes out of income from investments made with the late Nobel's estate. The purse is currently 8 million kronor ($1.3 million) for the full award.

Posthumous Nominations Are Not Allowed for Those Who Die Nobel Prize rules stipulate that the award cannot be given posthumously. The only exception was made in 2011 when Canadian immunologist Ralph Steinman received the Nobel for Physiology or Medicine. The Nobel committee made its announcement on October 3, unaware that Steinman had died a few days earlier. After some deliberation, the committee decided to let Steinman keep it. According to Steinman's daughter, her father had joked about the Nobel shortly before he died. "They don't give it to you if you have passed away," he said. "I got to hold out for that."

Several People Have Turned Down The Nobel It’s rare, but it has happened. Two Nobel laureates declined their prizes. It’s rare, but it has happened. French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Satre was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1964, but declined the honor. In 1973, Communist Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho was jointly awarded the peace prize with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for their work negotiating the Paris Peace Accords during the Vietnam War. Kissinger accepted his award, but Tho refused, stating that a true peace had not actually been achieved. Adolf Hitler also forbade Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt and Gerhard Domagk from accepting their prizes in 1938 and 1939, while the Soviet Union forced Boris Pasternak to turn down his 1958 literature award.