What The FAQ: What are the Nobel Prizes and why do people think so much about them?

Alfred Nobel does not pay for all the prizes. Do you know which one is paid by a separate institution? We tell you in today's FAQ
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

As the Nobel season opens on October 4, there are rumours that the first award for Physiology or Medicine will be given to the researchers of the COVID-19 virus or the vaccine. As we inch closer to finding out who the award goes to, we take a look at a few questions you might have and try to answer them.

What are the Nobel Prizes all about?
When scientist, businessman and entrepreneur Alfred Nobel died in 1896, his will revealed that he had left a major part of his fortunes, 31 million SEK (about $342 million in today's prices) to establish prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. His will read that the prizes are for those who "during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”.

Who was Alfred Nobel?
Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. Before the prizes made him a world-known name, he held 355 different patents, and dynamite was the most famous of the lot. He also owned Bofors. He revamped the company from primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other arms.

Which of the prizes was introduced later?
In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) started the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. This has been made a part of the Nobel Prizes since then. The only difference, the funds come from the bank and not from Nobel's fortunes.

Have the prizes ever been skipped?
The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901 and it's been an annual tradition since then. But there were no awards given out for a few years during World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945). 

How many women have received the award?
A total of only 58 women have been awarded so far, Marie Curie being the only one to be awarded twice. The number of women awardees have gradually increased over the years — from just four in 1901-20 to 11 in 1981-2000 to 28 in the past 20 years.

Who is the youngest Nobel Laureate?
Malala Yousafzai was all of 17 years when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, making her the youngest Nobel Laureate ever.

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