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Nobel Prizes

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Frederick The Monk
59764.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:29 am Reply with quote

Question: For what subjects did Alfred Nobel set up prizes in his will?

Forfeits: Economics; mathematics

Answer: Physics; Chemistry; Physiology or medicine; Literature; Peace

Notes: The prizes defined in Alfred Nobel's will:

The first three are for eminence in physical science, in chemistry and in medical science or physiology; the fourth is for the most remarkable literary work "in an ideal direction" and the fifth is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international brother/sisterhood, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses.

The 'Nobel Prize for Economics' is not a true Nobel. it is awarded every year (since 1968) by the Bank of Sweden (the World's oldest Central bank) and is actually the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The prize is commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics (particualrly by winners) but should more correctly be known as the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. The economics laureates do receive their diploma and gold medal from the Swedish monarch at the same December 10 ceremony in Stockholm as the Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature. The amount of money awarded to the economics laureates is also equal to that of the other prizes.

So it's a bit of a fraud really.

In 2001, Nobel's great-grandnephew, Peter, a vociferous opponent of the 'Economic Nobel' asked the Bank of Sweden to differentiate its award to economists given "in Alfred Nobel's memory" from the five other awards.

Even in the early years, when acknowledged giants like Paul A. Samuelson, Milton Friedman and Kenneth Arrow were being honored with economics Nobels, Swedes as prominent as Gunnar Myrdal issued calls to abolish the prize. Even grateful recipients have sometime expressed reservations. Friedrich Hayek, whose reputation for Viennese courtesy rivaled that for his libertarian views, toasted the King and Queen of Sweden during the Nobel banquet by saying that, had he been consulted, he would have "decidedly advised" against creating the prize in the first place.

There is no Nobel Prize for mathematics. A common legend states that Nobel decided against a prize in mathematics because a woman he proposed to (or his wife, or his mistress) rejected him or cheated on him with a famous mathematician, often claimed to be GŲsta Mittag-Leffler. There is no historical evidence to support the story, and Nobel was never married.

The Abel Prize is awarded annually by the King of Norway to outstanding mathematicians. In 2001 the government of Norway announced that the bicentennial of Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel's birth (which was 1802) would mark the commencement of a new prize for mathematicians, named after Abel. It is specifically designed to be the 'mathematics Nobel'.

Sophus Lie became the first proponent of establishing an Abel Prize when Lie learned that Alfred Nobel's plans for annual prizes, made known in 1897, would not include a prize in mathematics. King Oscar II was willing to finance a mathematics prize in Abel's name, and the mathematicians Ludwig Sylow and Carl StÝrmer drew up statutes and rules for the proposed prize. However, the dissolution of the Union between Sweden and Norway in 1905 ended the first attempt to create the Abel Prize. The prize was finally instituted in 2003.

Links to:

The Nobel Prize : A History of Genius, Controversy and Prestige by Burton Feldman


Researcher: JP

NB Flash has pointd out that this is disputed - the Official Nobel Website listing Economics among the Prizes

NOTE TO MITCH - Above will need rewriting for book)

Last edited by Frederick The Monk on Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

59823.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:02 pm Reply with quote

Unsuccessful nominations for Nobel prizes aren't disclosed for 50 years, although you often hear it said that so-and-so has just been nominated.


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