Exploratorium
The Nobel Prize: 100 Years of Creativity
 
Home | Public Programs | Private Parties | Online Activities | Fun Facts
 
Nobel Prize Fun Facts
 
 

1) Alfred Nobel wrote the final draft of his Nobel Prize bequest on a torn piece of paper at the Swedish Club in Paris in front of four witnesses because he distrusted lawyers.

2) Tolstoy was the first great author to be rejected by the Nobel Committee in the first year. He was nominated the next year, and he was found wanting by the reigning conservative committee, because of his "animosity toward culture," "'ghastly naturalistic descriptions,'" and "criticism of the state and the Bible.”

3) The developer of the prefrontal lobotomy, Antonio Moniz, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1949. This treatment for schizophrenia was abandoned in the 1960's.

4) Robert E. Lucas, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics in 1997 for his work on the theory of "rational expectations," had to split the $1 million prize with his ex-wife. Her divorce lawyer inserted a clause in the settlement agreement to cover just such a possibility.

5) Jean Paul Sartre refused the prize for literature in 1964 for fear it would turn him into an institution.

6) In 1926, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Johannes Fibiger for “finding a cure for cancer”. That claim (and award) appears to have been overly optimistic.

7) According to Artur Lundkvist, a member of the Nobel Literature Committee in 1981, some final nominees for the Nobel Prize for Literature had been on the list for as many as 40 years!

8) Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam received the 1973 Peace Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Tho refused to accept the prize.

9) Marie Curie won not just one, but two Nobel Prizes: one for physics (which she shared with her husband), and one for chemistry. Her daughter, Irene, also won a Nobel Prize.

10) After Nobel's death and his will setting up the prize, it turned out that he had not asked any of the deciding bodies he had designated as selectors for the prizes whether they would accept the responsibility; they decided to do so only after some serious hesitation.

11) Brilliant inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla never won Nobel Prizes. The committee that offered them a joint prize promptly rescinded the offer when it was discovered that they hated each other so much that they would not stand on the same stage together!

12) The humorous Ig Nobel Prize is a parody which annually honors research "that cannot or should not be repeated.”

13) Hemingway reportedly said of the prize, "You finally scramble ashore and the bastards hit you over the head with a lifebelt."

14) There have been only four individuals who have won more than one Nobel Prize: Marie Curie (Physics 1903 & Chemistry 1911), Linus Pauling (Chemistry 1954 & Peace 1963), John Bardeen (Physics 1956 & 1972) and Frederick Sanger (Chemistry 1958 & 1980).

15) One organization has won the Nobel Peace Prize three times: International Committee of the Red Cross (1917, 1944 & 1963)

   
  About | Donations | Membership | Privacy Policy | Use Policy | Contact | Directions
© Exploratorium | The museum of science, art and human perception