The Nobel Prize history begins with Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, inventor and businessman who set up a foundation designed to recognize outstanding achievement in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, literature and peace.
Born in 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, Alfred was the third child born to Immanuel and Adriette Nobel. His father was an engineer and inventor and moved the family to Finland and Russia during Alfred's youth. Alfred received a top education and he excelled in his studies, speaking 5 languages by the time he reached his late teens.
As a young adult, Nobel enjoyed studying science, especially chemistry and physics. He worked in a variety of laboratories and chemical engineering facilities. Nobel became particularly interested in creating practical uses for nitroglycerine. He filed for a patent for dynamite, detonators and blasting caps, eventually building nearly 100 explosive manufacturing factories around the world. Nobel continued to invent helpful things, and ended up with 355 patents. His life's goal was to improve people's lives and he wanted to do something to recognize such achievements in others.
Before Nobel died in 1896, he outlined an unusual thing in his will. He donated most of his assets and money to create a foundation that would annually recognize excellence in some of Nobel's favorite subjects. That new foundation held the first Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in 1901 in Stockholm.
The Nobel Prizes
The awards ceremonies are held on Nobel's birthday, December 10, each year to recognize and reward outstanding contributions in certain fields. After an extensive nomination and screening process, the winners are announced in October of every year and presented with their prizes in December. The week leading up to the awards ceremony is filled with lectures from the winners, banquets and other social events. At the awards ceremony, the winners, known as Nobel Laureates, receive a special diploma, a medal and a cash prize. Anywhere from one to three people can win a Nobel Prize, as long as they participated equally in the results. Famous Nobel Prize winners include Marie Curie, the 14th Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Rudyard Kipling.