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All You Need to Know About How the Nobel Prize® is Chosen

Nobel Prize Secrets How It-s Really Decided-1

The Nobel Prize® — it's the Super Bowl® of the intellectual world, the Oscars® for those with groundbreaking ideas. But how much do we actually know about what goes on behind those closed doors in Stockholm? Let's uncover the mysteries of the world's most prestigious award.

Origins of Excellence

Founded posthumously in the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor, the Nobel Prizes are awarded to individuals who have made "the greatest benefit to humankind." Since 1901, they've been handed out in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace, and more recently, Economic Sciences. You might think it's just another shiny medal, but oh boy, there's more to it!


The Secret Selection

It's not a casual nomination and vote. Thousands of nominations come from the elite; past winners, committee dignitaries, and genius circles. And, shh, nominees are kept in the dark till they win. Talk about suspense!

Decision Time

Nobel Prize Secrets How It-s Really Decided-2 The Nobel Prize award ceremony takes place at the Stockholm City Hall, Sweden.

The final decision rests with various bodies, which include The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute (Physiology/Medicine), the Swedish Academy (Literature), and the Norwegian Nobel Committee (Peace). After rigorous evaluations, the decision is made, and winners are announced in October. The lavish ceremonies every December, complete with gold medals and substantial cash rewards, are the cherry on top.


Interesting Facts About Nobel Prize Winners

Youngest vs. Oldest: Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 for her relentless efforts in advocating for girls' education in Pakistan and globally. Leonid Hurwicz received the prize in Economic Sciences at the age of 90.

Winning Prizes from Prison: Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi became the fifth Nobel Peace Prize recipient to be honored while in detention. Other awardees in similar predicaments include German journalist Carl Von Ossietzky, Myanmar's political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, and Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski.


Famous American Winners: Notable American recipients include singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 for creating "new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," and Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, who was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". (NobelPrize.org, n.d.).

So, the next time you hear about the Nobel Prize winners, remember — there's a world of intrigue, dedication, and mystery behind every medal.


References: Nobel laureates by age | Nobel Prizes and Laureates | How do you get a Nobel Prize? | Narges Mohammadi is the 5th Nobel peace laureate to win while imprisoned. Here are the others. | Brief history of the Nobel Prize.

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