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Nobel Neglects.

posted Jan 28, 2015, 9:42 PM by Ranmini Perera   [ updated Nov 4, 2016, 12:18 PM by Upali Salpadoru ]

Nobel neglects and naugties.

One of the greatest philanthropist, Alfred Nobel who donated the Prizes to be awarded annually for five disciplines laid down certain conditions.

 The gist of his last will which explains them is as follows:-  
The will as signed on    27-11-1895   

Fig.1.  Alfred Bernhard Nobel. 1833-1896, Norway.

" The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way:

“the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows ":

It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not ".


Receiver of prize

Award er

1. One part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics;


The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

2. The person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement;


The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

3. One part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine;


The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet

4. One part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction;


The Swedish Academy in Stockholm

5. One part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. (Parliament)

 In spite of the extreme care taken by Alfred Nobel in drafting his will, serious problems have cropped up since the inception. Although the Norwegian government has undertaken the responsibility to carry on as faithful as they could, certain amendments and changes have become vital.

Violations of the Will.

 As a result of alterations, amendment and modifications of the will by the executors, some of the changes are picked up here.

    1. According to the will each award has to be for a single person. They have started nominating up to 3 people for a single award.
    2. The award has to be for the contribution made during the previous year, But very often they  have been delaying it till the  recipient approaches the grave.
    3. Nobel does not seem to have mentioned anything about 'posthumous awards' but  they avoid  such awards.


A few problems and  controversies,

1.     At the very outset  Alfred's   relations opposed the establishment of the Nobel Prize. ( As a much bigger part of his funds,  than they  have received, has been channelled there)

2.    Prize awarders  he named, refused to do what he had requested.

Anyhow Norwegian government overcame all obstacles , taking five years for the process, and started awarding prizes since 1901.

3.    Svante August Arrhenius ( 1859 – 1927) was a child prodigy from Sweden. 

He could be considered as the father of electro-chemistry.  He was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1901 against strong opposition. 

He was  awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903.                                                            

Unfortunately he did more damage to the good name of the institution than an honest service. “He helped his friends to get prizes and denied them to those that he disliked”.

One good  example was the case of  Dmitri Mendeleev. 

He is the one now considered as the ‘Father of Inorganic chemistry'                                            

The Periodic Table of elements he formulated is found in almost every chemistry lab all over the world.

In 1905, Mendeleev was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Next year When his name came up before the Nobel Committee , Arrhenius got a member to object. The argument was that the Periodic system discovered by Mendeleev is too old. The following year too his name had to be dropped due to opposition from Arrhenius.                                                            The real reason was Mendeleev criticised his Dissociation Theory.                                        

4.    The 1909 prize in physics was awarded to Guglielmo Marconi for his invention of the radio.  

However, the U.S. patent office deliberated between issuing patent for the radio to Marconi and Nikola Tesla. The patent eventually went to Tesla in 1943.

Subsequently when the award was offered to him to be shared with Thomas Alva Edison he rejected it.   Visit - Nicolai Tesla.

5.    In 1923 Nobel Prize was awarded to Frederick Banting and James Macleod for the discovery of insulin.

In 1950 for the first time in the history of the Nobel Prize , the committee admitted that an error had been made with regard to the 1923 Nobel award. They accepted that Charles Best also deserved to be a Nobel Laureate but the prize could not be awarded posthumously according to the revised  policy.

6.    In 1944 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to German scientist Otto Hahn for the discovery of nuclear fission, but some critics say his colleagues Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman had assisted with the discovery.

The Nazi government reportedly pressured Hahn to minimize Meitner's contributions because she was Jewish.

7.    Marie Curie and Pierre were awarded half the prize money of the 1903 Physics Nobel prize while the other half was given to Henri Becquerel  "Nobel prize in physics is awarded in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”

“In 1911 Curie was nominated for the Chemistry Prize. Madame Curie then received a letter signed by Svante Arrhenius, …asking her to cable back stating that she would not attend the award ceremony and to declare that she did not want to accept the Prize until the Langevin court case had shown that she was not guilty. She promptly replied that the prize had been awarded for the discovery of Polonium and Radium and slander concerning her private life should not mar the appreciation of the discovery.”

Marie delivered her Nobel Lecture undeterred on December 11th expounding Radioactivity and her research. She declared that she regarded this award too as a tribute to Pierre Curie.

8.    Mahathma Gandhi . 1869  to 1948, needs no introduction. ""  itself has described him as “The Missing Laureate”. 

Here it is from horses mouth.Mahatma Gandhi, the Missing Laureate Peace Editor, 1998-2000

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) has become the strongest symbol of non-violence in the 20th century. It is widely held – in retrospect – that the Indian national leader should have been the very man to be selected for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was nominated several times, but was never awarded the prize. Why?” Øyvind Tønnesson

9. Douglas C. Prasher (born 1951) is (U.S).a research scientist with a doctorate in  molecular biology  

In 1988, using a two-year, $200,000 grant from the American Cancer Society, He cloned the gene for green fluorescent protein (GFP), the protein that gives the jellyfish its glow. Later he  shared his findings with Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien along with a few other peers.

 In 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Tsien for their work on Green Fluorescent Protein.  neglecting the  pioneer..

Chalfie said :-  "Douglas Prasher's work was critical and essential for the work we did in our lab. They could've easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out."[

   Tsien also agreed :-

  "Doug Prasher had a very important role."

   At the time of the above award, Dr.Douglas Prasher PhD, was working as a shuttle bus driver on a low wage. On hearing the news he said, “I'm really happy for them. I was really surprised that particular topic carried that much weight."

   No Comments have been made by the Noble Academy over this.

Chalfie and Tsien invited Prasher and his wife, Virginia Eckenrode, to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony, as their guests and at their expense.

All three Chemistry laureates thanked Douglas Prasher in their speeches.


10.The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1952 was awarded to Selman A. Waksman "for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis"

Albert Schatz  who really discovered and named it was forgotten. When Schatz appealed to the Nobel Committee their excuse was, “ that the Nobel Prize was awarded not only for the discovery of streptomycin but also for the development of the methods and techniques that led up to its discovery and the discovery of many other antibiotics.”

Fig. Twenty three year old Schartz working with deadly TB bacilli.

When the case was contested in court, Wacksman agreed to share the credit and the remunerations along with Schatz.


In 2009, the Peace Award was given to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to his vision  and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Even Obama was  "surprised".   It was called a "stunning surprise" by The New York Times.  Nominations for the award had been due by 1 -2- 2009, only 12 days after Obama took office.

Former Polish President Lech Walesa, himself a Noble laureate, responded, "So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far."

12    Cordell Hull received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his prominent role in establishing the U.N. Hull was President Roosevelt's ‘Secretary of State’

        “While his efforts to start the U.N. were admirable, his actions six years earlier caused widespread consternation. during the S.S. St. Louis crisis when 950 Jewish refugees, seeking asylum from Nazi persecution, set sail for the U.S. from Hamburg. Despite FDR showing willingness to help, Hull, together with Southern Democrats, voiced strong opposition and threatened to withdraw support for FDR in the forthcoming election if he didn't follow suit. On June 4, 1939, the President denied the ship entry, forcing it to return to Europe, where more than a quarter of its passengers subsequently died in the Holocaust.”                                                      Courtsey Times