Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Nobel Book of Answers: The Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres, and Other Nobel Prize Winners Answer Some of Life's Most Intriguing Questions for Young People

The Nobel Book of Answers: The Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres, and Other Nobel Prize Winners Answer Some of Life's Most Intriguing Questions for Young People

by Bettina Stiekel

See All Formats & Editions


Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has honored the world's great geniuses in the most important fields: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics, and world peace. What if children could ask these creative thinkers about some of life's most intriguing mysteries, such as "Why can't I live



Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has honored the world's great geniuses in the most important fields: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics, and world peace. What if children could ask these creative thinkers about some of life's most intriguing mysteries, such as "Why can't I live on french fries?" and "What is love?" The answers from the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres, Desmond Tutu, and seventeen other Nobel Prize laureates are rich with surprise, humor, and of course, wisdom. Every single answer will make you think...and learn something new.


The Dalai Lama


Richard J. Roberts


Shimon Peres


Mario J. Molina


Erwin Neher


Kenzaburo Oe


Desmond Tutu


Günter Blobel


Mikhail Gorbachev


Daniel L. McFadden


Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
First published in German in 2001, this absorbing book features answers by 22 Nobelists to questions posed by children -- questions that turn out to be less simple than they sound. — Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
Who better to answer life's most intriguing questions than the thinkers who have made the most important contributions to world peace, medicine, literature, economics and more? In The Nobel Book of Answers: The Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres, and Other Nobel Prize Winners Answer Some of Life's Most Intriguing Questions for Young People, ed. by Bettina Stiekel, the luminaries tackle questions ranging from "Why can't I live on French fries?" to "What is love?" and "How much longer will the Earth keep turning?" With an introduction by former President and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jimmy Carter, this book is a thought-provoking, surprising and sometimes humorous collection of wisdom for young people. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Stiekel, an editor with the well-respected German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung, gathers a series of delightful interviews with Nobel winners (as well as a couple of alternative Nobel-like winners) whose focus is children's curiosity about their world. Nobel prize-winning heavy-hitters such as the Jimmy Carter (Peace Prize, 2002), the Dalai Lama (Peace Prize, 1989), Mikhail Gorbachev (Peace Prize, 1980), Shimon Peres (Peace Prize, 1994), and Desmond Tutu (Peace Prize 1984) line up beside a roster of more elusive brainiacs, including Sheldon Glashow (Physics, 1979), Paul Crutzen (Chemistry, 1995), and Christiane Nusslein-Volhard (Medicine, 1995), to thoughtfully apply the concepts of their respective fields to such meaty questions as: Why do we feel pain? What is politics? How much longer will the Earth keep turning? Even the more whimsical questions - Why is pudding soft and stone hard? Why can't I live on French fries? and Why does 1 + 1 = 2? - trigger surprising answers that eschew condescension in favor of serious discourse. The contributors are straight shooters. In answer to the question, Why are some people rich and other poor?, Daniel McFadden (Economics, 2000) concludes a penetrating analysis by stating, "In the end, it all boils down to one sentence: The world is not fair." Glashow tempers scientific theory, which states that earth is slowing down and eventually will be destroyed by a disintegrating moon, by reassuring readers that this inevitability is millions of years down the road. This book of thought-provoking answers is a wonderful incentive for students to apply themselves in school and set high important academic goals. It is highly recommended. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J(Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 272p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Beth E. Andersen
Children's Literature
Hats off to the 22 Nobel Prize winners who agreed to participate in the making of this book! The Nobel Prize has honored some of the world's greatest thinkers in the fields of chemistry, physics, economics, literature and world peace since 1901. This collection of questions about many of life's great mysteries and the answers provided by the Nobel laureates is beautiful. Children will not be intimidated by their answers and adults will be awed by the complex in depth, yet understandable, answers communicated by these amazing achievers. Some of the essays included are "Why do we feel pain?" by Günter Blobel (Nobel Prize for medicine, 1999), "Why are some people rich and others poor?" by Daniel L. McFadden (Nobel Prize for economics, 2000), and "What is love?" by the Dalai Lama (Nobel Peace Prize, 1989). Former President and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jimmy Carter gives a very strong yet humble introduction to the book, which is worth the price of the book in and of itself. Biographical information about each essayist is contained at the end of each chapter. An excellent book for anyone looking for a little bit more than the average story, for the gifted, for the aspiring, or for just about anyone. Recommended. 2001, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Ages 10 up.
— Cindy L. Carolan
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Twenty-two prizewinners contributed to this collection, which has an introduction by Jimmy Carter and an essay about Alfred Nobel and the prize by Mikhail Gorbachev. Each individual tackles a particular question. Desmond Tutu's entry, "Why Is There War?" includes a reference to the recent conflict in Iraq, and George Vithoulkas, winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize, addresses "Why Do I Get Sick?" Biologist Christiane N sslein-Volhard, the one woman represented, explains why there are boys and girls. Richard J. Roberts, a geneticist, uses an analogy to LEGO building blocks to explain metabolism. Most essays incorporate aspects of children's experience to relate difficult concepts, although "Why Does 1 + 1 = 2?" by Enrico Bombieri, winner of the Fields Medal for Mathematics, is more difficult to access. The essays are conversational and friendly in tone. A paragraph at the end of each entry provides biographical information about the contributor. Overall, the book makes for interesting reading.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

How Do I Win the Nobel Prize?

by Mikhail Gorbachev Dear Friend!

Do you know, actually, who invented the Nobel Prize? It was a Swede, Alfred Bernhard Nobel, himself a great scientist and outstanding inventor. He invented synthetic silk and welding with gas. His most famous invention was dynamite, and because he was not only a very smart man but also a very clever man, he opened his own manufacturing plant in which he produced dynamite. From there, he sold it to the whole world, and that is how he became very rich.

Shortly before his death, Alfred Nobel had an idea: He made a last will, and this will stated that nearly his entire immense fortune was to be used, after his death, to establish a foundation. This foundation would then have the task of awarding five large prizes each year to five outstanding men and women from the whole world -- three of them for the most important discoveries or inventions in the areas of physics, chemistry, and biology or medicine. One prize was to be for literary works that, as he said, were "the most advanced toward 'the Ideal.'" A further prize was to go to the person who managed to create peace somewhere in the world -- between two countries, for example, that had never gotten along and were at war. Much later, in 1968, a prize was started for economics, funded by the Federal Bank of Sweden on the occasion of its three-hundredth anniversary. Only the Peace Prize recipient is decided by a committee of the Norwegian Parliament; all of the other prizes are awarded by various Swedish organizations, including the Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Now, dear friend, you may think the whole thing is very strange and contradictory. A man whomakes his fortune with dynamite, a deadly weapon, endows the world with prizes for things and works that are supposed to make the world wiser and happier -- like, say, Albert Einstein's discoveries in physics, or Boris Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago. That the "King of Dynamite," as Alfred Nobel was called by his contemporaries, was the founder of a Nobel Peace Prize must seem totally contradictory to you. I myself don't consider it a paradox. Alfred Nobel was, after all, a man of great vision; shortly before his death, he was willing to learn from his own mistakes -- something only very few are able to do. Late, but not too late in life, he understood that the fate of humankind was not supposed to be war, but peace. The same can be said of Andrei Sakharov, the ingenious Russian physicist and later a Peace Prize winner. At first Sakharov was one of the scientists who created nuclear weapons of unbelievable gruesomeness. Later on, however, he became one of the toughest and most uncompromising champions for nuclear disarmament, even risking his own health and freedom in the process.

So how do you become a Nobel laureate in the first place? To answer this question, we may have to think about it somewhat differently. We have to think about who has become a Nobel laureate to date. Let's take some of the most famous whom you've heard about already or will hear about for sure -- in physics class, for example. There, you will encounter the names of many Nobel Prize winners, names like Wilhelm Roentgen (who invented X rays -- you probably know already what an X-ray machine is), Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, and Enrico Fermi. All of them, no doubt, are the founders of modern physics. Or let's look at another area of knowledge: biology or medicine. The names of people firmly intertwined with these disciplines are Ivan Pavlov, Robert Koch, and Alexander Fleming. And have you read any books yet by George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Mann, Ernest Hemingway, or Toni Morrison? If you haven't yet, you surely will -- and not just because all of them received the Nobel Prize for literature for their great books, but because their books are truly great.

All right, those are just a few names. But I think you already understand what I mean to say: that the men and women who have become Nobel laureates are only those who have enriched human knowledge through some extraordinary contribution, who have discovered as-yet-unknown laws of nature or unimaginable secrets of human life and of man's soul. In short, they are people who have opened truly new horizons for all of us.

Among the Nobel Prize winners so far -- as you've already figured out by now -- have been many politicians and scientists who brought people peace. Alfred Nobel, of course, thought through this part particularly well, for nothing is more difficult to understand than peace -- and it is even more difficult for people to achieve. I know personally many recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. All of them are wonderful, selfless people who spared no effort to end armed fighting, to restore peace and respect among people all over the world who seem to always be so senselessly embroiled with one another. To do this has never been simple or easy.

It is just as difficult as developing a complicated physics formula or solving an extremely challenging medical problem. Some Peace Prize winners have paid with their lives for their endurance and noble spirit -- Martin Luther King Jr. or Yitzhak Rabin, for example. Or they struggled with difficulties -- like Nelson Mandela, who sacrificed decades of his life in South Africa in the fight against apartheid. Nothing, not even prison and persecution, could dissuade him from his beliefs.

I do not want to make comparisons between myself and these men. But surely it was as much a surprise to them as it was to me when they learned that they had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Why? Because everything they did was done for the sake of humanity, not because they were striving for recognition or even for some award. Understandably, one is all the more happy about such an honor. For it is happiness to see that one has really achieved something for people -- and, above all, that the people have understood what one has oneself understood.

Do you want to know, my friend, what I understood? That war and violence were no longer supposed to be acceptable means in world politics, that no one should be threatened anymore with anybody else's weapons. From the moment that I was elected general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and thereby head of the Soviet nation, the most important question for me was this: What could be done to put an end to the nuclear arms race? How could we avert, forever, the nuclear catastrophe that for so long already had hung over humanity like the sword of Damocles? I had to begin to transform my ideas into reality literally on the day I was elected, because the next morning a new round of Soviet-American negotiations on limiting weapons was supposed to start in Geneva. For years, people had sat together and not moved an inch. People were negotiating for negotiation's sake. So I declared that at last results were needed; and to show how seriously I meant business, I soon let the Americans know that in Europe we were willing to stop positioning the most dangerous midrange missiles -- unilaterally and without any ifs, ands, or buts. Next ensued a long correspondence with then President Ronald Reagan, at first completely in secret and then a meeting with him in Geneva. At the end of these talks there were far fewer weapons in this world than before -- and much more trust between two political systems that had been enemies up to then.

Whoever brings peace to others also receives it. This was another important lesson for me from those years. Only in the light of worldwide détente, a period of relaxed tensions, were we able to begin democratic changes in the Soviet Union, such as perestroika, a policy of economic reform, and glasnost, a policy allowing more freedoms. Yes, I believe to this day that a modern country must definitely try to bring the interests of its own people in step with those of the world community. Things were different in our country for a long time. Only after we no longer felt threatened, because we had stopped threatening others, could we warm to the idea that life was much richer and more complex than the best and most perfect governmental plans. The scheme into which communism had pushed people for seventy years was actually also a form of violence. After it had all ended, somebody in Stockholm picked up the receiver and called me.

Do you know now, dear friend, how one becomes a Nobel Prize winner? Do you perhaps want to become one yourself? If you really want to know, you will succeed. You must always remain curious, never accept an answer as final -- and, above all, have faith in people, in their capacity for renewal, for solidarity, for poetry. And when one day you receive a Nobel Prize, I will take you to one of the conferences where Nobel laureates regularly meet. You and I will talk with the other laureates about how we can make people even a bit more thoughtful, science even a bit more revolutionary, literature even a bit more exciting.

And you will suddenly understand that your job as a Nobel Prize winner really only begins after you receive it.

Mikhail Gorbachev, born on March 2, 1931, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his efforts to end the Cold War. He lives in Moscow and is chairman of the Foundation for Socioeconomic and Political Studies, which he founded.

Copyright © 2001 by Wilhelm Heyne Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Munich Essay compilation for English language edition copyright © 2003 by Ullstein Heyne List GmbH & Co. KG, Munich English translation copyright © 2003 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Meet the Author

Jimmy Carter was the thirty-ninth President of the United States, serving from 1977 to 1981. In 1982, he and his wife founded The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people around the world. Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He is the author of two-dozen books, including A Full Life; An Hour Before Daylight; Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and Our Endangered Values. He lives in Plains, Georgia.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews