We are guessing you have all heard about the Nobel Prize by now? If not, we are here to help. Given the Nobel season is ongoing, it would be apt to talk about its history, significance and what the prizes entail.
The Nobel Prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards given for intellectual achievement around the world. The announcements for the Nobel Prizes 2021 started on October 6 and the final award, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was announced on October 11.
Here’s all you need to know about them, and the list of Nobel Prize winners 2021.
In the will he drafted in 1895, Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel had instructed that most of his fortune be set aside as a fund for awarding the Nobel Prizes “to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” These prizes as mentioned in his will fell into five categories namely, the Nobel Prize for Physics, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Nobel Prize for Peace. The first-ever distribution of the prizes took place on December 10, 1901, on the fifth anniversary of the inventor’s death. An additional award, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968 by the Bank of Sweden and was first awarded in the year 1969. Although not technically a Nobel Prize, it is identified with the award, its winners are also announced with the Nobel Prize recipients, and is presented at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. The recipients of the prizes are called Nobel Laureates.
Each Nobel Prize consists of a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a sum of money, the amount of which every year depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation in charge of giving away the awards. A Nobel Prize is either given entirely to one person, divided equally between two persons, or can be shared by three persons. If a prize is declined by the recipient or not accepted before a set date, the prize money goes back into the foundation’s funds. Some prizes have been declined by their winners, and in a few instances, governments have sometimes refused to allow their citizens to accept them. However, those who win a prize are nevertheless entered into the list of Nobel laureates with the remark “declined the prize.”
Three winners were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2021 “for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems”. Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann were chosen “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”. In addition to them, Giorgio Parisi received the prize “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”.
Another prize in the science category, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021, was split between two scientists, Benjamin List and Scottish scientist David MacMillan, “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”. According to its scientific definition in organic chemistry, organocatalysis is a form of catalysis in which the rate of a chemical reaction is increased by an organic catalyst.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021 was also awarded to two people, David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch”. From your biology lessons, you may know that a receptor is an organ or cell that is able to respond to light, heat, or other external stimuli and transmit a signal to a sensory nerve.
Tanzanian-born writer Abdulrazak Gurnah received the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”. Gurnah is the fifth African writer to win the prize and also the first Black person to receive the prize since 1993, when it was awarded to African American author Toni Morrison.
The Nobel Peace Prize 2021 was awarded jointly to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”.
The 2021 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded with one half to David Card for his “empirical contributions to labour economics” and the other half jointly to Joshua D Angrist and Guido W Imbens for their “methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships”. A causal relationship in economics could also simply be referred to as cause and effect.
The word “laureate” refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, their god Apollo is known to be wearing a laurel wreath on his head. A laurel wreath means a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel (in Latin: Laurus nobilis). In Ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were bestowed upon victors as a sign of honour – both in athletic competitions as well as in poetic meets.
Should there be Nobel Prizes in other categories? What do you think? Do tell us in the comments below.
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