La historia de los Premios Nobel

La historia de los Premios Nobel

Escrito el 20/12/2022
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The origin of the Nobel Prizes dates back to November 27, 1895: Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, donating most of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. Thus the Nobel Prizes were born. A will that caused great controversy, not only for his family, who opposed the establishment of the Nobel Prize, but also for the international public opinion. It took five years before the first Nobel Prize could be awarded in 1901. Today, it is considered the most prestigious award in the world.

Since then, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences (introduced in 1968) have recognized the work of almost 600 laureates. Researchers and writers whose contribution deserves a place in a historical list that includes such illustrious names as Albert Einstein, Alexander Fleming, Martin Luther King Jr., Marie Curie, etc.

Alfred Nobel's wish was that his assets should serve a benefit to mankind. According to his will, his estate would have to be divided into five sections:

First, to the most important discoveries or inventions in the field of physics. Another part, to the person who made the most important chemical discovery or improvement. Another part should go to the person who made the most important discovery in the field of physiology or medicine. Another part for the person who, in the field of literature, produced the most outstanding work. And finally, a portion for the person who has done the most to advance communion among nations, the abolition of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.

But Alfred Nobel not only detailed the content of the prizes, but also wrote down the institutions that would award them. Thus, the physics and chemistry prizes are awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. The physiological or medical achievements are awarded by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. For literature, the Stockholm Academy would be responsible for awarding them; and for champions of peace, the Norwegian Storting would be responsible.

The Nobel Prizes are today the most illustrious recognition to which a professional of science or literature, or those who have worked for the peace of nations, can aspire. And all this as a tribute to a man who wanted to improve the world, tormented by the uses of his most famous invention: dynamite.

Did you know that there is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics?

Rumor has it that Alfred Nobel's wife was unfaithful to him with a mathematician, and for that reason he decided to ignore that discipline in his famous awards. It is a more than understandable reason to leave without an award to the mathematics eggheads, but it was never confirmed.

The key is usually in the simplest things, and leaving aside love affairs, the most logical thing is that Nobel was not at all interested in mathematics, and this has been proven. Nobel was a chemical engineer, invented dynamite, manufactured weapons and also had an entrepreneurial side, which led him to amass a large fortune thanks to his many patents (he registered 350).

With his immense fortune, he left the order in his will to reward the people who had contributed the most in the previous year to certain disciplines, those most related to his interests, and among them, mathematics was not among them. But mathematicians do not work without recognition; John C. Fields took care of that. The Canadian provided the money for this discipline to obtain its well-deserved prestige. He began this task in 1936 by awarding two medals, which later became four.

They are awarded every four years to coincide with the international mathematics congresses, where the names of the lucky winners are announced. The only requirement that these aspiring geniuses must have is to be under 40 years of age on January 1 of the year of the congress. In this case, the International Mathematical Union decides who are the deserving winners of the prize.