The Nobel Prize (AFI: / noˈbɛl /; Swedish pronunciation: / nʊˈbɛl /) is an honor of worldwide value awarded annually to living personalities who have distinguished themselves in the various fields of human knowledge, bringing "the greatest benefits to humanity" for their researches, discoveries and inventions, for the literary work, for the commitment in favor of world peace.
Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, the son of a Swedish building contractor. Expert chemist, engineer and inventor, after having become president of the Bofors company in 1894, Nobel developed several experiments on explosives: it was thus that he accumulated a huge amount of money, deriving from the patents of his 355 inventions, the most famous of the which is dynamite, perhaps discovered accidentally using the absorbent properties of diatomaceous earth on nitroglycerin. Thanks to further research, Nobel also prepared other types of explosive explosives, including ballistite (one of the so-called "smokeless powders"). In March 1888, Ludvig Nobel, Alfred's elder brother, was killed by an explosion during an experiment. . Some French newspapers, believing that the deceased was Alfred himself, announced his death in tones that were anything but flattering:
Nobel was deeply shaken by the condemnation of this premature obituary, so much so that he began to fear how he would be remembered by posterity. Firm in the decision to appear as a generous philanthropist and not as a ruthless industrialist, he decided to allocate 94% of his immense fortune to the institution of an award to be given to those who render "the greatest services to humanity" in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, or in fostering peaceful relations between the peoples of the Earth. Thus was born the Nobel Prize, regularly awarded in its various declinations starting from 1901. Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, the executors of the last will of Nobel (who died in 1896 in his villa in Sanremo), established the Nobel Foundation for management of Nobel's assets (31 million Swedish crowns) and for the distribution of prizes.
Below is the text of Nobel's testamentary dispositions:
The prize, managed by the Nobel Foundation, was established following the last wishes of Alfred Bernhard Nobel. The first awarding of the prizes dates back to 1901, when they were awarded the prize for peace, for literature, for chemistry, for physiology or medicine and for physics. On the other hand, there is no prize for mathematics. Since 1969, the Alfred Nobel Economic Prize has also existed, which was established following a donation from the National Bank of Sweden and has since been managed together with the original prizes.
The prizes are generally awarded in October and the award ceremony is held in Stockholm at the Konserthuset ("Concert Hall") on 10 December, the anniversary of the founder's death, with the exception of the peace prize which is also awarded on December 10, but in Oslo. The awards in specific disciplines (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and economics) are commonly considered the most prestigious assignable in these fields. Even the Nobel Peace Prize confers great prestige, however, due to the openness of political evaluations, its award has sometimes been accompanied by controversy.
The Nobel Prize provides for the assignment of a sum of money. Until 2011 it consisted of 10 million crowns; since 2012 the amount was reduced by 20% but then increased to 9 million crowns (869,000 euros) in 2017. The prizes are still financed thanks to the interest obtained on the capital donated by Alfred Nobel at the beginning of the last century.
The history of the Nobel Prizes has often seen the awarding of the same people in different editions, or of members of