The Nobel Prize is one of the longest standing and most prestigious prizes in history.
They have been awarded for more than a century, and recognise the achievements of some of the most influential people and organisations in the world, whose work has significantly helped humankind.
So, what exactly are Nobel Prizes, what are people given when they win one, and who are some of the most notable previous winners?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Nobel Prize?
The Nobel Prizes are five separate prizes named after Alfred Nobel, who was a Swedish chemist, engineer, and industrialist most famously known for the invention of dynamite.
They are to be awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind,” according to Alfred Nobel’s will which was written in 1895.
The people or organisations the prizes are awarded to are known as laureates, and the prize itself is a gold medal, a diploma and money.
The first Nobel Prizes were awarded 121 years ago in 1901, and the awards are given out annually. This year’s Nobel Prizes ceremony will take place on 10 December 2022 at Stockholm City Hall, Sweden.
What are the prizes?
The Nobel Prizes recognise people and organisations who have given the greatest benefit to humankind in the areas of
- Economics and Peace
There is usually more than one winner for each prize. Each prize can all be shared by up to three individuals, but no more. They can. however, also be awarded to organisations of more than three people.
Prize winners are nominated by eligible nominators, and people or organisations cannot nominate themselves for awards. Nomination forms are sent by the Nobel Committee to about 3,000 individuals, usually in September the year before the prizes are awarded. These individuals are generally prominent academics working in a relevant area.
Although Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously, if a person is awarded a prize and dies before receiving it, the prize is presented.
What is the prize money?
Each recipient of a Nobel Prize receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a monetary award.
In 2021, the Nobel Prize monetary award is 10,000,000 Swedish Krona (SEK). This is around £803,345. The money for this year’s Nobel Prize has not yet been revealed, as the amount is always dictated by how much money the Nobel Foundation has in a given year.
The money for the Nobel Prizes comes from the estate of Alfred Nobel. The capital is invested in "safe securities", as per his instructions from his will, and the interest is paid out as prizes.
It is common for recipients to donate prize money to benefit scientific, cultural, or humanitarian causes
Who were the previous prize winners?
Between 1901 and 2021, Nobel Prizes were awarded 609 times to 975 people.
Among them are:
- Marie Curie (Physics, 1903 and Chemistry, 1911)
- Ivan Pavlov (Physiology or Medicine, 1904)
- International Committee of the Red Cross (Peace, 1917, 1944, and 1963)
- Albert Einstein (Physics, 1921)
- George Bernard Shaw (Literature, 1925)
- Sir Alexander Fleming (Physiology or Medicine, 1945)
- Ernest Hemingway (Literature, 1954)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (Peace, 1964)
- The 14th Dalai Lama (Peace, 1989)
- Nelson Mandela (Peace, 1993)
- Malala Yousafzai (Peace, 2014)
For more information about previous prize winners, you can visit the Nobel Prize website.