Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Article

October 20, 2021

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was established by Alfred Nobel's testament of 1895 and was awarded for the first time in 1901, like the other prizes established by Nobel himself. The award is managed by the Nobel Foundation and is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on the proposal of a five-member committee. The prize is presented during the annual ceremony held in Stockholm on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death. The prize, which has not been awarded on eight occasions (1916, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1933, 1940, 1941 and 1942), consists of a sum of money (eight million Swedish crowns in 2013), a personalized diploma for each winner and a gold medal bearing the effigy of Alfred Nobel.

The establishment of the award

Nobel wrote in his last will that his fortune should be used to create a series of prizes to be awarded to those who would achieve the greatest achievements for the benefit of humanity, in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, literature. Although Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime, the last one dates back to just over a year before his death and was signed in the Norwegian-Swedish club of Paris on November 27, 1895. 94% of Nobel's estate (equal to 31 million Swedish kronor at the time) was used to found and finance the five awards. Due to skepticism around the will, it was not approved by the Norwegian parliament until April 26, 1897. The executors were Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, who created the Nobel Foundation for the purpose of looking after the estate and prizes. Shortly after the approval of the will, the Norwegian Nobel Committee (which awards the Peace Prize) was established and its members were chosen. Subsequently, the other organizations were established: the Karolinska Institute on 7 June (prize for medicine), the Swedish Academy on 9 June (prize for literature) and the Royal Academy of Sciences on 11 June (prizes for physics and chemistry). The Nobel Foundation then reached an agreement on the guidelines according to which to award the prizes. In 1900 the new statute of the Foundation was promulgated by King Oscar II of Sweden.

Award ceremony

Usually the awarding institution announces the winner's name in October. The award is then presented in a formal ceremony held in Stockholm on October 10, when each winner receives three items: a diploma, a medal and a certificate confirming the amount of the award. A maximum of three winners and two different studies can be selected for each year. Since 2001 it has been endowed with 10 million Swedish kronor.

Nomination and selection process

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry are selected by a five-member committee elected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. At first, some 3,000 chemistry scientists are asked to nominate candidates. The names of the candidates are never made public and the scientists themselves are not aware that they have been considered for the award (the lists remain sealed for 50 years). This list is then discussed by the committee of experts name by name, until a list of about 250-300 names remains, sent to selected experts in the field, who select a shortlist and write to the committee a series of recommendations on the names chosen. . At that point, the committee of the Royal Academy of Sciences proceeds to the last screening and sends a report with its conclusions and recommendations to the Academy of Sciences. Academy members meet on two separate occasions to make the final decision on the winner, which is decided by final vote. Although it is not allowed to nominate scientists after their death, it is possible that the prize will be awarded

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