Nobel Prize Categories

The Nobel Prize categories used to honor some of the world's greatest innovators each year stem from Alfred Nobel, the man who donated his estate in 1896 to create the Nobel Foundation. His personal interests motivated the category choices, and since 1901, prizes have been awarded to winners nominated from the international community.

Physics
The Nobel Prize for Physics recognizes significant contributions or pioneering efforts in the field. While the winners are primarily men, there have been a few women to take the award, including Marie Curie in 1903. More than half of the Nobel Prizes for Physics have been awarded to two or more laureates, which means that the work being recognized was equally attributed to two people.

Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry seeks to reward important chemical discoveries, techniques that perfect existing chemical combinations or otherwise important discoveries. A husband and wife team, Frederic and Irene Joliot, won the prize jointly in 1935. In 1938 and 1939, two Nobel Laureates from Germany were forced to decline the award by Adolf Hitler.

Physiology or Medicine
From serum therapy to gene modifications, advances in medicine and physiology have the potential to change the lives of millions. The Nobel Prize for this category has been awarded to a handful of women throughout the years, and famous Laureates include Ivan Pavlov and the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1947 honoree Gerty Cori.

Literature
Neither language or culture prohibit a writer from earning a Nobel Prize for Literature. As one of the better known categories, many famous Laureates are easily recognizable, including Rudyard Kipling, Winston Churchill, Pearl Buck, Boris Pasternak, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and T.S. Eliot. The first woman to win was Selma Lagerlof in 1909.

Peace
International peace efforts are recognized as both an individual effort as well as a group effort, and that's why an organization can be nominated in this category. A well known past organizational Laureate organization includes the International Committee of the Red Cross. Famous individual Laureates include Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Mikhail Gorbachev and Jimmy Carter. Three notable leaders are often mistakenly believed to have won the prize, but didn't-Joseph Stalin, Mahatma Gandi and Adolf Hitler. All were nominated at one time or another, but were never selected as winners.

Economics
This category was added in 1968 and honors those who contribute to economic science. To date, there have been no women who have been awarded the honors for this category. 

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The Nobel Prize history begins with a Swedish man who wanted to improve people's lives. Little did he know as a youth that his name would become associated with some of the world's greatest innovators.

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Find articles about the Nobel Prize, including Nobel Prize rules, Nobel Prize history and who invented the Nobel Prize.

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