How the Nobel Prize Was Founded

The Lasting Impact of Alfred Nobel’s Will. It’s amazing how a barely two page document has influenced research and discovery in the world of science and formed the lives of many people. The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the world’s most respected honours. It is one of 6 areas for which the Nobel Prize is awarded.

Categories of the Nobel Prize

The month of October 2008 saw the nomination of this year’s Nobel Prize Laureates. The coveted prize, established by Alfred Nobel, is awarded in the following categories:

  1. Physics
  2. Chemistry
  3. Medicine
  4. Literature
  5. Peace and, since 1969
  6. Economics.

The world wide televised ceremonies will take place on the 10th of December, 2008 in Stockholm in the presence of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in the categories physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and economics and in Oslo in the presence of King Harald V of Norway in the category peace.

The Contents of Alfred Nobel’s Will

It all started on the 27th of November 1865 in Paris, when the famous Swedish innovator, inventor and entrepreneur Alfred Nobel, wrote his just over one page long will and testament in the presence of four witnesses, none of them being a lawyer.

After several legacies to family members, friends and loyal servants, Alfred Nobel left the bulk of his vast fortune, accumulated mainly by the invention and production of dynamite to a fund and foundation, to be divided into five equal parts and annually awarded as prize money to the most deserving researchers and innovators in the fields of science, literature and “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

At the instigation of his great grand nephew, the prize for economics was added in 1968 and, by many, is not considered a “real” Nobel Prize.

Amazing Brevity of a Powerful Document

The document created by Alfred Nobel is brief, concise, poignant and, for over 100 years, since the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901, has had an enormous impact because of the prestige it carries and the money which is used to further research and science. The creation of the Nobel Prize and the endowment of funds towards research has vastly increased the progress in medicine, physics and chemistry.

Writers who win the Nobel Prize for Literature find their ideas and ideals recognised world wide and can influence the thinking of millions of people.

The importance of the Nobel Prize for peace needs no further explanation.

Reasons for Nobel’s Legacy

Many are the speculations over the reasons why Alfred Nobel created the foundation in the first place. Contrary to many wills with a similar intent, no explanations are given in his. It has been said, that he was terrified by the use dynamite has been made of in warfare. It may also be, that the death of his younger brother Emil in 1864 together with several other co-workers might have prompted his decision. Emil was killed, when tests with dynamite lead to an explosion in the family owned factory. Yet others speculate, that his one time lover and secretary, Bertha von Suttner might have had an important influence over Alfred Nobel, especially in the creation of the Peace Prize which was awarded to her in 1905 as the first female Peace Prize Laureate.

Be that as it may, Alfred Nobel and the Prizes named after him and funded by his wealth, continue their impact on the world, all because of a one page document.

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