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15 must-know facts about the Nobel Prize

December 10, 2014 14:35 IST

Image: Nobel Peace Prize laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai hold a news conference in Oslo. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for their fight against the oppression of children and their right to education, will receive the award at a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. Here are interesting facts about Nobel winners. 

1) From 1901 till this year, Nobel prizes have been awarded 567 times to 864 Laureates and 25 organisations with the youngest winner being Peace Prize awardee Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan at 17 years.

2) By winning the Peace Nobel along with India's Kailash Satyarthi, Yousafzai beat the previous record of Lawrence Bragg, who won the Physics Nobel in 1915 at the age of 25.

3) The average age of all Nobel Laureates in all prize categories between 1901 and 2014 is 59 years.

4) Two most common birthdays among the Nobel Laureates are May 21 and February 28.

5) The word "laureate" signifies the laurel wreath awarded to winners of athletic competitions and poetic meets in Ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, God Apollo is represented wearing on his head a laurel wreath, a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel.

6) Since 1901, prizes have not been awarded 50 times, most of them during World War I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945). The statutes of the Nobel Foundation say, "If none of the works under consideration is found to be of the importance indicated in the first paragraph, the prize money shall be reserved until the following year."

"If, even then, the prize cannot be awarded, the amount shall be added to the Foundation's restricted funds."

7) On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.

8) In 1968, Sweden's central bank Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Nobel. Leonid Hurwicz has the distinction of being the oldest Nobel recipient at the age of 90 for economics in 2007.

8) Till now, 47 women have won the Nobel while two laureates declined the prize. Jean-Paul Sartre, awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in literature, declined it as he had consistently declined all official honours. Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the then United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord, said he was not in a position to accept the award, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason. Four laureates were forced by authorities to decline the Nobel.

9) Adolf Hitler forbade three Germans Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt and Gerhard Domagk, from accepting the Nobel Prize. They, however, received the Nobel Prize diploma and medal later but not the prize amount.

10) Boris Pasternak, the 1958 Nobel laureate in literature, initially accepted the prize but was later coerced by authorities of his native country the Soviet Union to decline the award.

11) Three peace laureates -- Germany's Carl von Ossietzky, Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese rights activist Liu Xiaobo - were under arrest at the time of the award.

12) The International Committee of the Red Cross was given the Nobel Peace Prize thrice while its founder Henry Dunant won the first Peace Prize in 1901.

13) Linus Pauling has the distinction of being the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes -- the 1954 prize in chemistry and the 1962 peace prize.   

14) At the Nobel award ceremonies on December 10, the laureates receive three things: a Nobel diploma, a Nobel medal and a document confirming the Nobel Prize amount. Each Nobel diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The Nobel medals are handmade with careful precision and in 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold.

15) The Nobel Prize amount for 2014 is set at Swedish kronor 8.0 million per full Nobel Prize.

Flashback: The Indians who have won the Nobel

How Kailash Satyarthi transformed a bonded child labourer's life

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