Nobel Prize Day falls on December 10 every year. It honors the achievements of Alfred Bernhard Nobel, a Swedish engineer, chemist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. We have all heard of the Nobel Prize, which recognizes outstanding achievements in various fields in the arts and sciences. Nobel Prize Day is a tribute to the person who instituted the Prize.
History of Nobel Prize Day
Alfred Nobel was born to impoverished parents in Stockholm, but his father was a descendant of a very highly regarded Swedish scientist and writer, Olaus, or Olof, Rudbeck. His father was an engineer, and Alfred Nobel expressed an early interest in engineering, mainly explosives. This, of course, bore results, with Nobel becoming interested in stabilizing the unpredictable explosive nitroglycerin as early as his teenage years. Despite one of his brothers dying in a tragic accident involving this pursuit, Nobel continued with his work, shifting the factory base to a more isolated area, and ultimately succeeding in inventing dynamite as a superior and more stable version of nitroglycerin.
Alfred Nobel went on to invent an even better alternative to dynamite in the form of gelignite. This became a staple in mining operations and made Nobel financially successful. Nobel also invented weaponry for military purposes and started companies to sell these. When a French newspaper carried a false obituary of Nobel, criticizing him for his role in warfare, he re-evaluated his life’s goals. He decided to use his earnings to set up a prize that recognized the best in humanity. The awards in the different categories reflect his interests in various fields. Apart from being an entrepreneurial engineer, he was also a writer.
While Nobel is still criticized for his role in furthering military technology, the Nobel Prizes, including the Prize for economics, which was added later, are considered the most prestigious achievement for practitioners in those fields.
Nobel Prize Day Timeline
Dynamite is Invented
After many trials, including a fatal one, Nobel successfully stabilizes nitroglycerin and develops dynamite.
Nobel Writes an Important Will
In his last will, Nobel leaves the bulk of his fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes.
Nobel Prizes are Awarded
The first batch of awardees, including Jean Henri Dunant, receives their prizes for founding the International Red Cross Movement.
Economics is Added to the Prizes
The Swedish Central Bank requests this addition on its third centenary by donating to the Nobel Foundation.
Nobel Prize Day Faqs
What is the prize money that Nobel winners get?
Prize winners in 2021 are set to receive a total Swedish Kronor (SEK) of 10 million or around USD 1.16 million. This has, however, fluctuated over the years, with 2012 winners receiving only SEK 8 million.
Is the Nobel prize awarded posthumously?
No. An exception is made for people who died during the nomination and final selection period.
Who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year and why?
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 was awarded to Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa for all their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression — a precondition for democracy, resulting in lasting peace.
How To Observe Nobel Prize Day
Look up the Nobel Prize archives.
There is much information about Alfred Nobel and the Nobel prize winners on the official site and anywhere else online and offline. Select the category that interests you the most and study the timeline of awardees and the subjects or output they were recognized for.
Award a prize to your favorite expert
This can be a fun game with friends and family members who share a mutual interest in one of the award categories. If you follow developments in peace, chemistry, or literature and look up to a particular person in this field, go ahead and vote to make them win your version of the Prize.
Learn about the award selection process
The Nobel Committee follows a unique process for the nomination and selection of award winners. There are also many other rules related to confidentiality and due process. What better day to look these up?
Why Nobel Prize Day Is Important
Nobel’s story is fascinating.
Alfred Nobel was a gifted scientist-turned-entrepreneur with varied interests, including literature and society. While his controversial legacy in military technology continues, the Nobel Prizes are well-known and reputed worldwide.
It recognizes Nobel’s intentions.
Had it not been for the erroneous obituary in a newspaper, Nobel may never have bequeathed his wealth to future achievers in the humanities and physical sciences. However, he must be credited for following through with his ‘wake-up call’ and leaving a whopping 94% of his net worth to set up the Prize.
It’s an excuse to learn more about the Prizes.
1. The Nobel Prize has been awarded 603 times since 1901. It is fascinating to learn more about the awardees and their legacies and reflect on whether there have been significant changes in theme or direction in bestowing the award.