How did the Nobel Prize come into being?
The Nobel Prizes were established by the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor, engineer, and industrialist, best known for inventing dynamite. Alfred Nobel was born in 1833 and held over 350 patents in various fields.
The origin of the Nobel Prizes can be traced back to a mistaken obituary. In 1888, Alfred Nobel's brother Ludvig Nobel passed away, and a French newspaper mistakenly published an obituary for Alfred instead. The headline read "The Merchant of Death is Dead" and criticized him for amassing wealth from his inventions, particularly dynamite, which was used in warfare.
This incident deeply affected Alfred Nobel, causing him to reflect on his legacy. He expressed a desire to be remembered for positive contributions to humanity rather than for the destructive potential of his inventions.
In his will, drafted in 1895, Nobel left the majority of his fortune to establish the Nobel Prizes. The prizes were to be awarded annually to individuals and organizations that had made outstanding contributions to humanity in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Medicine or Physiology, Literature, and Peace.
The Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901, five years after Alfred Nobel's death, in accordance with his wishes. The Nobel Foundation was established to manage and administer the prizes. The prizes have since become some of the most prestigious and recognized awards in the world.
In 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank (Swedish National Bank) established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, which is awarded alongside the original Nobel Prizes.
Alfred Nobel's decision to use his wealth to establish the Nobel Prizes reflects his desire to leave a lasting positive impact on humanity and is a testament to the potential for individuals to shape the world for the better.