This week saw the announcement of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner. To the surprise of many the winner was named as The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Many thought Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot in the head by the Taliban, would be this years recipient, however it was not to be.
The announcement got me thinking about the Nobel Price. Most people are familiar with the prize but I realized that I knew very little about it. I did not know where it originated or any of the history of the prize itself. When I began reading about it, it turned out to be a very interesting read.
The Prize originated as a result of a will left by Alfred Nobel. Alfred Nobel was a Swedish inventor and pharmacist. He famously invented dynamite. He believed that this invention would bring about world peace. His logic being that if both sides in a war knew that the other had the ability to obliterate them with this explosive they would not begin a war in the first place. This was not to be unfortunately and many saw his invention as a very deadly weapon.
Because of peoples misunderstanding of what his original intention was, he decided to make a will that would leave no room for misinterpretation. Nobel’s last will left approximately 94% of his worth to the establishment of five prizes (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace) to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”
On the fifth anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, December 10, 1901, the first set of Nobel Prizes were awarded.
Chemistry: Jacobus H. van’t Hoff
Physics: Wilhelm C. Röntgen
Physiology or Medicine: Emil A. von Behring
Literature: Rene F. A. Sully Prudhomme
Peace: Jean H. Dunant and Frédéric Passy