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The story of the winners of the world's most prestigious prize.
The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award one can receive. The Prize is administered by the Nobel Foundation, and the award ceremonies receive extensive media coverage. The awards are often politically controversial, and many winners use their acceptance speech to further personal causes.
Along with background information, the book provides a look at the 200 most famous and most interesting Nobel winners. They are profiled by prize and by year. A photo or illustration appears with each profiled Laureate. Other illustrations help to explain complex subjects in science and make it easier for the reader to appreciate the accomplishments for which the prize has been awarded.
A number of fascinating facts emerge from this lively account. For example, only 34 of about 800 Nobel Laureates have been women, among them Marie Curie, who won twice. Linus Pauling is the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes, the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize. The youngest Laureate is Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 years old when he received the Nobel Prize in Physics with his father in 1915. The oldest is 90-year-old Leonid Hurwicz, who received the 2007 Economics Prize. Two Laureates have declined the Nobel Prize: Jean-Paul Sartre, and Le DucTho. Other famous names include Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, and James Watson and Francis Crick, discoverers of DNA.
Nobel: A Century of Prize Winners is sure to find a readership among the millions who follow the awards each year and want to understand more about the most important prize in the world.
The Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious international awards given. Since its inception in 1901, the various Nobel Prize committees have awarded over 200 prizes. This one-volume tome by Worek, who is also the author of Firefly's An American History Album: The Story of the United States Told Through Stamps(2008), lists the people and organizations that have received the award for their achievements in the fields of peace, physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and (after 1968) economics. The book begins with a biography, three and a half pages long, of Alfred Nobel. Information about the various Nobel Prize committees and the prizes is also included. Chapters are arranged chronologically by decade, while entries in each chapter are arranged by year. Particularly notable prize recipients in each year are given a more detailed examination. Usually one to two pages long, the entries are made up of a brief biography, a photograph, and an explanation of how the person's work has influenced the world. Many discussing medical or scientific achievements have illustrations showing their application. Colored edges at the bottom of each page show the year and the award category, and each chapter ends with a chronological listing of winners for that decade, the location and date of their birth and death, and the award received. Because some recipients are mentioned more than once, an index at the back simplifies finding people by name.
Table of Contents
1901—1909 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
1910—1919 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
1920—1929 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
1930—1939 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
1940—1949 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
1960—1969 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
1970—1979 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
1980—1989 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
United Nations Peacekeeping Forces
1980—1989 Complete List of Nobel Laureates
1990—1999 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
2000—2010 Selected Profiles of Nobel Laureates
Excerpt from the Introduction
Since 1901, the first year the award was given, until the present day, nearly 800 individuals and organizations have been recognized with the Nobel Prize. This group includes some of the greatest scientists, writers, economists and peacemakers in the world.
The five original Nobel awards were expanded in 1968 to include the Economic Sciences (normally known as the Nobel Prize in Economics). Prizes are awarded every December 10th to coincide with the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death. Often controversial — as was Alfred Nobel himself — and at other times a nearly unanimous choice, the winners chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee (Peace), the Swedish Academy (Literature), the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Economics) and the Karolinska Institute (Physiology or Medicine) don't make history, but they do help write it.
On the October 21, 1833,
Alfred Bernhard was born in Stockholm, Sweden, third son of Immanuel and Andriette Nobel. Although in the coming years the young Alfred was pampered by his older brothers, the instability of the family's financial situation was always apparent, and a threat of prison hung over Immanuel Nobel because of his debts. In 1837 Immanuel Nobel moved to Finland and then to the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, where he was finally able to rebuild his capital and the family's honor.
Alfred Nobel's father found his son had a melancholic, idealistic side, and he ordered him at just 17 to embark on an extensive educational journey to expand his horizons and increase his interest in business. He also intended to expose his son to developments in the field of engineering, and explosives in particular. Alfred certainly benefited from studying abroad, meeting the brightest scientific minds of his day. In Paris he spent time with the inventor of nitroglycerin, the Italian
Ascanio Sobrero, and in the United States he received lessons from the Swedish engineer John Ericsson.
In 1852 his father called him home to become more involved in the family business, which was booming at the time because of orders from the Russian military. Immanuel Nobel had first come into contact with the world of explosives through civil construction and believed that his future in Russia lay in this rapidly changing field. His inventions include deadly land and sea mines, and he was responsible for the most important Russian armaments factory during the Crimean War. The end of this conflict, however, brought another wave of difficulties to Immanuel and, in 1863, facing bankruptcy once again, he left his elder sons, Robert and Ludvig, to run the Russian businesses and returned with his wife and two younger sons, Alfred and Emil, to Stockholm.
While the family industries experienced a boom during the Crimean War, Alfred had devoted himself to studying explosives, particularly nitroglycerin. This compound was as dangerous as it was powerful, since its explosion could be set off by shock or heat. Nobel knew that if he could somehow "tame" nitroglycerin, it would become an unbeatable commercial product.
One of the first experiments, performed in 1864, went horribly wrong and several people died in the explosion, including the young Emil Nobel. The Swedish authorities put an immediate stop to any new experiments within Stockholm, but neither this, nor the loss of his brother, could stop Alfred Nobel. He moved his research center to the banks of Lake Malaren and went back to producing nitroglycerin, experimenting with different types of additives as a way of taming it. He finally achieved his goal in 1866 by mixing nitroglycerin with kieselguhr, thus producing a malleable and safe paste. Months later, on September 19, 1867, Alfred Nobel registered a patent for the new explosive,
which he named "dynamite."
Nobel's first factories were in Kremmel, Germany, and very remote, allowing him to experiment without risk to the local population. Between 1865 and 1873 Nobel lived in a simple house between Kremmel and Hamburg, where the family's offices were located. During World War I Krümmel, with 2,700 employees, supplied the German army's gunpowder needs. The Versailles Treaty put an end to this contract, however, and during peace the factory was used to produce artificial silk. With the arrival of World War II, Krümmel was once again at the service of the German war interests, with more than 9,000 workers. The facilities were destroyed in 1945 by an Allied air raid, with bombs based on the inventions of Nobel himself.
Dynamite was, without a doubt, Alfred Nobel's most famous invention, but the list of his other accomplishments is long. In 1887 he created ballistite; known as smokeless gunpowder, this compound is made of 40 percent nitrocellulose and 60 percent nitroglycerin. The explosive was originally intended for the mining industry, but its appearance coincided with a tumultuous period at the end of the 19th century, when governments were scrambling to acquire new military technology. When the patent was made public, Alfred Nobel offered his product to the French government, but they turned the proposal down. When he offered ballistite to the Italians, however, they did not hesitate in accepting, and a large production facility was built near Turin.
Through more than 30 productive years of experimentation and developments carried out in Sweden, Germany, France, Italy and other nations around the world, Alfred Nobel never stopped applying himself to the tasks he undertook, whether it was to produce artificial silk or the most powerful explosives of the day. When he died he had put his name to no less than 355 patents, many of them now applicable to the fabrics industry and used in more than 20 countries.
Although just before his 30th birthday Alfred Nobel decided to rejoin his parents in Stockholm, the city had not been his primary residence for some time. Until the end of his days at the age of 63, Alfred Nobel was a constant pilgrim. He kept a house, ready to be lived in, in six different countries. "My home is where I am found working," he wrote, "and I work anywhere." He also kept completely equipped laboratories in Stockholm and Karlskoga (Sweden), Hamburg (Germany), Ardeer (Scotland), Paris and Sevran (France) and San Remo (Italy).
Alfred Nobel lived and died as one of the earliest citizens of the world, and this lifestyle was a deeply interwoven part of his personality. He can be considered one of the founding fathers of multinational corporations. Many of the companies he founded still exist today and are at the forefront of their industrial field, including companies like
Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), Société Centrale de Dynamite and Dyno Industries.