Monday, April 15, 2024

Who is Alfred Nobel and what is the Nobel Prize?


I think we have all read headlines or heard it mentioned on the news of Nobel Peace Prize Winners. But do you know where that started, why it started, and who started it? And did you know that there are several different Nobel Prizes every year?

Let's start with the who. Alfred Bernhard Nobel of Sweden was the third child of eight, born to Immanuel Nobel in October 1833. He and three brothers were the only of the children that survived in a life of poverty. Immanuel Nobel the victim of several business failures left Sweden and moved to Saint Petersburg, Russia. There, Immanuel became a wealthy man in the manufacturing of explosives and machine tools. With his new-found wealth he brought his family to Russia. Now having the money, he and his wife hired private tutors for Alfred.

Alfred Nobel was an ambitious young man who worked hard and loved his studies, excelling in them. He could speak six different languages. Once an adult, he could claim inventor, businessman, engineer, and chemist to his accomplishments. Most people can't claim one invention, however Nobel had 355 patents held in his name. His first patent filed was a gas meter at age 24, but his best-known patent was dynamite filed at age 34.

Young Nobel
Wiki public domain

 At age 26 Alfred moved back to Sweden with his parents. He gained an interest in explosives and worked diligently on them. Through his hard work and inventions, Nobel became a wealthy man.

 This story may or may not be a myth since it can't be confirmed. But because Alfred instituted the Nobel Peace Prize and if true could have influenced his decision to start the award, I thought it noteworthy. The story goes, Alfred's brother Ludvig passed away and several newspapers mistakenly wrote Alfred's obituary. It is said that one French newspaper wrote, "The merchant of death is dead...Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday." As I said the story has never been confirmed by historians but as the myth goes, this influenced Nobel to leave a better legacy.

Nobel wrote a rather interesting will, leaving large amounts of money to his nieces and nephews. He left money to some of his servants as well as acquaintances that are not specified of relationship. But with the bulk and remainder of his estate, he established what we know today as the Nobel Prize. The remaining estate was converted to securities where a fund was set up and the interest on said fund would be distributed annually as prizes for those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. The interest from the account was to be split into five equal parts and distributed as five prizes for (1) the most important discovery or invention in physics, (2) chemical discovery or improvement, (3) most important discovery in medicine, (4) the most outstanding work of literature, and (5) "the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses." 

Nobel went on to say that no consideration was to be given to nationality but that the prizes should be given to the worthiest persons. He gave instructions as to explain how each prize was to be selected and by what institutions or committees. 

Wiki public domain

The Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious awards of our day. A sixth prize was created to honor Alfred Nobel by Sweden's central bank. They established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, in 1968.

From 1901 to 2023 the six different prizes were awarded 621 times. Some have received the Nobel Prize more than once. There have been 965 individuals and 27 organizations that have received the award. As of 2022 the Nobel Peace prize has only been given to 18 women, but that is more than the other Nobel Prizes. Only 2 recipients have won more than one prize and both of those were organizations. The International Committee of the Red Cross has won the Nobel Peace Prize 3 times and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has won twice. Only one person has refused to accept their Nobel Peace Prize and that was a Vietnamese general, diplomat and revolutionary named Le Duc Tho. 

Nobel ended his last will and testament on a rather unusual note: "Finally, it is my express wish that following my death, my arteries be severed, and when this has been done and competent doctors have confirmed clear signs of death, my remains be incinerated in a crematorium." I guess he wanted to make sure he wasn't burned alive.

He couldn’t very well hear God if he wasn’t listening. He needed to lay his life before God and let him direct it instead of trying to manipulate things to his liking.

Kirsten Macleod is in a bind. Her father’s last will and testament stipulates that she must either marry, lead the plantation into a first-year profit, or forfeit it to her uncle. But marriage is proving no easy option. Every suitor seems more enamored with the land than with her. Until her handsome neighbor sweeps into her stable to the rescue… of her beloved horse.

Silas Westbrook’s last year at veterinary school ends abruptly when he is called home to care for his young orphaned sisters. Troubles compound when he finds an insurmountable lien on the only home they’ve ever known, and the unscrupulous banker is calling in the loan. The neighbor’s kind-hearted and beautiful stable girl, Krissy, provides the feminine influence the girls desperately need. If only he had a future to offer her. But to save his sisters from poverty, he should set his sights on Krissy’s wealthy relative Kirsten Macleod, the elusive new heiress. Surely this hard-working and unassuming young lady and the landowner could not be one and the same?

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She writes in the medieval/renaissance period as well as 19th century. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 4 dogs, 4 horses, miniature donkey, and 12 ducks. Life is good!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today. This was very interesting, and I thought Alfred's wishes regarding his death were very strange. I wonder if he had knowledge of someone not being dead who had been pronounced dead.