How are Nobel Prize winners chosen?

The Nobel Prize is one of the most important world awards that a person can receive for the recognition of their work, actions or research for the benefit of humanity. It is divided into six categories: chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and economics.

The announcement of the winners is always made in the first week of October (that is, this week), and the award ceremony is held every year on December 10, in Stockholm (Sweden) and Oslo (Norway).

Under the responsibility of the Nobel Foundation, the winners of each area receive:

  • a diploma.
  • the traditional medal with profile of Alfred Nobel, creator of the award, made of 18 carat gold.
  • 10 million Swedish kronor (approximately BRL 5 million).

How Nobel Prize Winners Are Chosen

The process of choosing the Nobel Prize winner starts with the committees in each area. They send letters to scientists, professors and academics from several countries and ask for nominations from people to compete for the award – annually there are 200 to 300 nominees, in this first phase.

These people who make the nomination need to follow some rules:

  • Not being able to nominate yourself.
  • You can nominate up to three people in the same category.
  • Posthumous nomination (persons who have died) is not allowed.
  • The nominee must have made a discovery or taken actions that benefit humanity.

Subsequently, the committees select the candidates who best fit the expectations for the award.

This selection is always made in January of each year, in a closed-door meeting and the names selected are kept confidential.

After the final decision of the categories, only the winner is publicly announced. The nominees who are not awarded can only have their names officially revealed after five decades.

If the committee considers that there is not a person able to receive the Nobel in a certain category, the area is not awarded.

Who makes the selection of Nobel Prize laureates?

In his will, Alfred Nobel, who became known (and rich) with the invention of dynamite and founded factories in several countries, specified the institutions responsible for the awards in each category:

  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is responsible for selecting the nominee for the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry.
  • The Karolinska Institute for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • The Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • A five-person committee of the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) chooses the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was given the task of selecting the laureates in this category.

The prize

According to Nobel organizers, each diploma is a unique work of art, created by leading Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. Medals are made by hand.

The ones in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are identical on the face: it shows the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833-1896).

Nobel’s portrait also appears on the Nobel Peace Prize medal, but with a different design. The image on the back varies depending on the awarding institution.

Nobel Prize 2022

Those chosen to receive the Nobel Prize this year will be announced starting this week. Check the dates:

  • Physiology or Medicine: Monday, October 3
  • Physics: Tuesday, October 4th
  • Chemistry: Wednesday, October 5th
  • Literature: Thursday, October 6
  • Peace: Friday, October 7
  • Economics: Monday, October 10

Mathematics Award

The Fields Medal and the Abel Prize are popularly known as the “Nobel Prize in Mathematics”, but are awarded by the International Mathematical Union and the King of Norway, respectively. In these cases there is no relation to the Nobel Prize.

*With Nobel Prize information

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