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Fast Facts About the Nobel Prizes


  • Named after Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist and inventor of dynamite.

  • First awarded in 1901, five years after Alfred Nobel's death.

  • Prizes first awarded in five subjects: chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

  • Sixth subject, economics, added in 1969.

  • Prizes can only be awarded to individuals, except the Peace Prize.

  • Each award can be given to a maximum of three people per year.

  • Money from Nobel's estate went into a fund managed by the Nobel Foundation. The interest from the fund constitutes the monetary prize each year.

  • Each prize constitutes a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money.

  • If there are multiple winners of one subject, the award money is split equally among the winners.

  • The Literature and Peace Prizes are very controversial because the award criteria is considered subjective.

  • Each year there are 100 to 250 nominees for each prize.

  • If someone nominated himself/herself, he/she would automatically be disqualified.

  • Someone cannot be nominated posthumously. Yet, if someone was alive when nominated but died before the award was given, they may be awarded posthumously.

  • Prizes must be awarded at least once every 5-year period.

  • A few prize winners have declined the award.
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