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Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize is a world-class honor awarded each year to living personalities who have distinguished themselves in the various fields of human knowledge, bringing "the greatest benefits to humanity" for their research, discoveries and inventions, for literary work, for the commitment to world peace.

Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, the son of a Swedish building contractor. Chemist, engineer and inventor, after becoming president of the Bofors company in 1894, Nobel developed several experiments on explosives: it was thus that he accumulated a large sum of money, deriving from the patents of his 355 inventions, the most famous of which it is dynamite, perhaps discovered by chance by exploiting the absorbent properties of diatomaceous earth on nitroglycerin. Thanks to further research Nobel also prepared other types of explosive explosives, including ballistite (one of the so-called "smokeless powders").

In March 1888, Ludvig Nobel, Alfred's older brother, died torn apart by an explosion during an experiment. Some French newspapers, believing that the deceased was Alfred himself, announced his death in tones that were anything but flattering:

"The merchant of death is dead!" Dr. Alfred Nobel, who made his fortune by finding a way to kill as many people as possible, faster than ever, died yesterday."

Nobel was deeply shaken by the condemnation of this premature obituary, so much so that he began to fear how he would be remembered by posterity. Firm in the decision to present himself as a generous philanthropist and not as a ruthless industrialist, he decided to allocate 94% of his immense fortune to the institution of an award to be awarded to those who in the fields render "the greatest services to humanity" of chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, or in fostering peaceful relations between the peoples of the Earth. Thus was born the Nobel Prize, regularly awarded in its various forms starting from 1901. Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, the executors of Nobel's last will (who died in 1896 in his villa in Sanremo), established the Nobel Foundation for the management of Nobel's assets (31 million Swedish crowns) and for the distribution of prizes.

The prize, managed by the Nobel Foundation, was established following the last wishes of Alfred Bernhard Nobel. The first awarding of the prizes dates back to 1901, when they were awarded the prize for peace, for literature, for chemistry, for physiology or medicine and for physics. On the other hand, there is no math award. The Alfred Nobel Economic Prize has also existed since 1969, which was established as a result of a donation from the Swedish National Bank and has been run alongside the original prizes ever since.

Prizes are generally awarded in October and the awards ceremony is held in Stockholm at the Konserthuset ("Concert Hall") on 10 December, the anniversary of the founder's death. Only the peace prize is awarded, albeit on the same date, in Oslo, being still awarded by a commission, elected by the Norwegian parliament, established in 1905, when the union between Sweden and Norway was declared dissolved. Awards in specific disciplines (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and economics) are commonly considered the most prestigious awardable in these fields. Even the Nobel Peace Prize confers great prestige, however, due to the openness of political evaluations, its recognition has sometimes been accompanied by controversy.

The Nobel Prize provides for the award of a sum of money. Until 2011 it consisted of 10 million crowns; since 2012 the amount has been reduced by 20% and then increased to 9 million crowns (USD 900,000) in 2017. The prizes are still financed thanks to the interest obtained on the capital donated by Alfred Nobel at the beginning of the last century.

The total market value of the Nobel Foundation's investment capital (total invested capital excluding directly owned properties) in 2021 was SEK 5,720 million (approximately USD 550 million). The return on investment was +18.4%.

Nobel Prize laureates

From 1901 to 2021, the Nobel Prize and the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economics and Science in memory of Alfred Nobel were awarded to 975 individuals and organizations.

● Laureates: 975
● Prize categories: 6
● Prize-awarded women: 58
● Prize-awarded organisations: 25
● Youngest laureate: 17 years
● Oldest laureate: 97 years